Draft outlook: Outside linebackers

A thin year for the prospects that fill the board at outside linebacker as there are only a few complete players at this position and even they have some shortcomings or question marks. Here's a closer look at the top 10:

 

1—Boss Bailey, Georgia

The Good: The next productive football player from the Bailey household. Athletic, explosive and a complete linebacker. Breaks down well, efficient defending the run and terrific in pass coverage. Gets depth on his drops covering an exceptional amount of area on the field to the point where he is effective over the slot receiver on third and long situations. Easily runs down the field opposing tight ends, smooth turning back to the ball and redirects to the pass nicely in mid-air, making the tough interception. Quick changing direction, scrapes well to the flanks and stays on his feet. Deceptively strong and slides off blocks on his way to the action. Squares into the tackle and easily brings opponents down on initial contact.

The Bad: Has a history of knee injuries which must be checked out.

The Skinny: First round talent but the knee injuries may red flag him and push him deeper into the first round than his playing skills would warrant.

Projected order in draft: Late 1st round.

2—LaMarcus McDonald, Texas Christian

The Good: Forceful run defender best in a straight line. Disciplined, plays assignment football and quick to read or anticipate the action. Strong, holds his ground against blocks and bulls his way up the field squaring into the tackle, wrapping up, then easily bringing the ball carrier down on initial contact. Gets adequate depth on his pass drops.

The Bad: Lacks the quick or fluid change of direction, not fast laterally nor does he redirect well. Poor size/speed numbers; built for the weak-side but plays like a strong-side linebacker.

The Skinny: Needs to prove at the Senior Bowl he can defend the pass and make plays out to the sidelines if he's to break into the drafts first day.

Projected order in draft: Early 3rd round.

3—Nick Barnett, Oregon State

The Good: Fast, heady linebacker with a good feel for the game. Reads and anticipates the action, quick filling the gaps and constantly flying around the ball. Gets depth on his pass drops, displays great range and makes plays in every direction of the field. Has a burst of speed, easily runs with opponents in pass coverage and scrapes well laterally, quickly cutting off the corners from ball carriers. Very active.

The Bad: Small, overwhelmed at the point and not an efficient linebacker. Over-pursues the action and does not play with great body control.

The Skinny: Solid weak-side prospect that must be put in schemes that will protect him. Possibly a nickel linebacker placed on the field in third and long.

Projected order in draft: Late 3rd round.

4—Victor Hobson, Michigan

The Good: Tough, heady linebacker that defends both the run and pass. Quick reading or anticipating the action, immediately picks up pass cover assignments and plays with a good degree of instinct. Breaks down well, finds his way through the traffic and always looking to get involved in the action. Rarely off his feet and displays exceptional range, scraping well to the sidelines or getting depth on his pass drops. Displays a burst to the ball carrier and has a good degree of suddenness to his game.

The Bad: Very slow to shed and gets wired in blocks with opponents. Solid in pass defense but does not stand out. Does not time well in the forty and short.

The Skinny: Going to be downgraded because of poor size/speed numbers but like his predecessors (Ian Gold, Dhahi Jones) could find a place at the next level and comfortably fit in.

Projected order in draft: Early 4th round.

5—Angelo Crowell, Virginia

The Good: Heady linebacker that impacts the game when focused. Reads and anticipates the action, quick to recognize plays and takes good angles to the ball carrier. Breaks down well playing with leverage and forward lean, then holds his ground against blocks. Gets depth on his pass drops and also finds his way through the traffic to the action.

The Bad: Compact build and engulfed by larger opponents. Seemingly gives half-hearted efforts at times. Plays outside but may project inside due to size/speed concerns.

The Skinny: Knows the game but must apply his skills for sixty minutes. May only be effective in limited schemes.

Projected order in draft: Middle 4th round.

6—Bryant McNeal, Clemson

 

Projected order in draft: Middle 4th round.

7—Lance Briggs, Boss Bailey, Georgia

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The Good: The next productive football player from the Bailey household. Athletic, explosive and a complete linebacker. Breaks down well, efficient defending the run and terrific in pass coverage. Gets depth on his drops covering an exceptional amount of area on the field to the point where he is effective over the slot receiver on third and long situations. Easily runs down the field opposing tight ends, smooth turning back to the ball and redirects to the pass nicely in mid-air, making the tough interception. Quick changing direction, scrapes well to the flanks and stays on his feet. Deceptively strong and slides off blocks on his way to the action. Squares into the tackle and easily brings opponents down on initial contact.

The Bad: Has a history of knee injuries which must be checked out.

The Skinny: First round talent but the knee injuries may red flag him and push him deeper into the first round than his playing skills would warrant.

Projected order in draft: Late 1st round.

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2—LaMarcus McDonald, Texas Christian

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The Good: Forceful run defender best in a straight line. Disciplined, plays assignment football and quick to read or anticipate the action. Strong, holds his ground against blocks and bulls his way up the field squaring into the tackle, wrapping up, then easily bringing the ball carrier down on initial contact. Gets adequate depth on his pass drops.

The Bad: Lacks the quick or fluid change of direction, not fast laterally nor does he redirect well. Poor size/speed numbers; built for the weak-side but plays like a strong-side linebacker.

The Skinny: Needs to prove at the Senior Bowl he can defend the pass and make plays out to the sidelines if he's to break into the drafts first day.

Projected order in draft: Early 3rd round.

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3—Nick Barnett, Oregon State

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The Good: Fast, heady linebacker with a good feel for the game. Reads and anticipates the action, quick filling the gaps and constantly flying around the ball. Gets depth on his pass drops, displays great range and makes plays in every direction of the field. Has a burst of speed, easily runs with opponents in pass coverage and scrapes well laterally, quickly cutting off the corners from ball carriers. Very active.

The Bad: Small, overwhelmed at the point and not an efficient linebacker. Over-pursues the action and does not play with great body control.

The Skinny: Solid weak-side prospect that must be put in schemes that will protect him. Possibly a nickel linebacker placed on the field in third and long.

Projected order in draft: Late 3rd round.

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4—Victor Hobson, Michigan

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The Good: Tough, heady linebacker that defends both the run and pass. Quick reading or anticipating the action, immediately picks up pass cover assignments and plays with a good degree of instinct. Breaks down well, finds his way through the traffic and always looking to get involved in the action. Rarely off his feet and displays exceptional range, scraping well to the sidelines or getting depth on his pass drops. Displays a burst to the ball carrier and has a good degree of suddenness to his game.

The Bad: Very slow to shed and gets wired in blocks with opponents. Solid in pass defense but does not stand out. Does not time well in the forty and short.

The Skinny: Going to be downgraded because of poor size/speed numbers but like his predecessors (Ian Gold, Dhahi Jones) could find a place at the next level and comfortably fit in.

Projected order in draft: Early 4th round.

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5—Angelo Crowell, Virginia

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The Good: Heady linebacker that impacts the game when focused. Reads and anticipates the action, quick to recognize plays and takes good angles to the ball carrier. Breaks down well playing with leverage and forward lean, then holds his ground against blocks. Gets depth on his pass drops and also finds his way through the traffic to the action.

The Bad: Compact build and engulfed by larger opponents. Seemingly gives half-hearted efforts at times. Plays outside but may project inside due to size/speed concerns.

The Skinny: Knows the game but must apply his skills for sixty minutes. May only be effective in limited schemes.

Projected order in draft: Middle 4th round.

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6—Bryant McNeal, Clemson

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Projected order in draft: Middle 4th round.

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7—Lance Briggs,