Outside LB: Best, Sleeper, Overrated

Oregon's Dion Jordan tops our list, but who is draft's big sleeper and who is overhyped among this class of 3-4 outside linebacker candidates?

Here is a closer look at the outside linebackers, compiled from conversations with scouts and the NFL's longtime lead scout, Dave-Te' Thomas.

Best in class

1. Dion Jordan, Oregon (6-6, 248): Contributed five sacks, 10.5 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles as a senior to earn first-team all-Pac-12 honors for the second consecutive year. In two seasons in the starting lineup, he chalked up 27 tackles for losses. He entered Oregon as the nation's No. 10 tight end but made move to defensive end during his redshirt freshman season. Jordan can play in either scheme; he's been compared to defensive end Jevon Kearse because of his explosive take-off and linebacker Terrell Suggs because of his fluidity dropping into coverage. Jordan played a lot of coverage for the Ducks, which is why he's so highly coveted by teams running the 3-4. "Speed is his best rush move, but Jordan has great hand placement to slip out and avoid blocks on the move," reads the scouting report of his official NFL biography. "He comes off the edge with a sudden burst and when asked to shoot the gaps, blockers are often surprised by his explosion through the holes. The thing you see on film since his junior year is that he combines his suddenness with efficient inside counter moves to pressure the pocket. He has also developed swim and rip moves working inside, but is better at getting to the quarterback when playing off the edge." He ran a 4.60 at the Scouting Combine before having surgery to repair a torn right labrum, an injury he fought through during the second half of the season. He should be ready for camp.


Jarvis Jones, Georgia (6-2, 242): Early entrant. Jones was a finalist for the Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Butkus and Lott awards and a two-time All-American. He was considered a likely top-five pick until testing poorly but still probably goes in the top half of the first round. He started all 26 games over the past two seasons and recorded 28 sacks during that span. A consensus first-team All-American in 2012, he piled up 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for losses and seven forced fumbles. The sacks and TFLs set school records. He sat out 2010 after transferring from USC, which wouldn't clear him from a neck injury, and was first-team All-American in 2011 with 13.5 sacks and 19.5 TFLs. The disappointing 40, however, isn't the only question in scouts' minds. "Jarvis Jones reminds me of Shawne Merriman," Thomas said. "When I have a 365-pound (Kwame) Geathers in front of me, when I have a 360-pound (John) Jenkins in front of me, I'm able to get in and do something because of those two guys. Jones reminds me of the bratty little brother. Runs around the corner, starts a fight, everyone starts chasing him and they get around the corner and there's two 360-pound brothers ready to kick your ass. That's Jones."


David Bass, Missouri Western (6-4, 262): Second-team All-American and winner of the Gene Upshaw Award, which goes to Division II's top defensive lineman. He posted 61 tackles and 11.5 sacks as a senior. The four-year starter finished with 40 career sacks, then dominated his week at the East-West all-star game. His favorite NFL player is Aldon Smith, the NFL's reigning sacks champion. He ran just 4.84 (with 20 reps and 30.5 vertical) at the Combine but 4.69 in bad weather at pro day. "Love David," Thomas said. "I think he's a late-round sleeper. People just have to go back and look at Robert Mathis and that's what they'll see in David Bass. He's that explosive." Asked to name a mid-to late-round outside linebacker prospect who could help immediately as a pass rusher, a scout didn't even need a split-second to answer before saying "David Bass."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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