Who's the best pass-rushing OLB in the draft?

Your team is looking for a pass rusher (we know this because every team is at all times). NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas put the deep analytics to the test with the top nine outside linebacker options in the draft, producing a pass-rush winner based off his comparison charts. The answer might surprise you.

With National Football League teams placing much more emphasis on speed along their first- and second-level lines of defense, it has become imperative for teams to have quality edge rushers with the ability to play the “Buck” and/or “Sam” spots in those alignments.

 

Teams are looking for those blue chip hybrids – players capable of eluding big blockers coming off the edge, yet still have the power to take on double teams and shoot the inside gaps. Ideally, they are looking for athletes who not only have the raw power to play through trash, but also those who are quick enough and agile enough to drop back and handle linebacker chores, when the scheme requires them to cover backs, tight ends and slot receivers in the short-to-intermediate areas on the football field.

 

These charts compare the performances of the top-rated cornerbacks eligible for the 2015 draft, using their 2014 season statistics for this project. The five players chosen are based on the consensus ratings from teams in the league. Each of the players listed below are considered to be early-round draft selections. I examine each athlete’s performance in detailed categories, based on game averages or percentage of plays.

 

 
RUSH END/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER TALE OF THE TAPE
PLAYERSCHOOL CLASSHEIGHT WEIGHT40-YD
Vic BeasleyClemson Senior6:03.0 2464.53
Alvin DupreeKentucky Senior6:04.0 2694.56
Dante FowlerFlorida Junior6:02.5 2614.60
Randy GregoryNebraska Junior6:04.7 2354.64
Eli HaroldVirginia Junior6:03.1 2474.60
Hau'oli KikahaWashington Senior6:02.3 2534.90
Lorenzo MauldinLouisville Senior6:03.5 2594.85
Nate OrchardUtah Senior6:03.2 2504.80
Shane RayMissouri Junior6:02.5 2454.64
POINT SCORING SYSTEM: Players are rewarded points for where they rank within each category…The point system used rewards 10 points for a player that ranks first in a particular category; nine points for ranking second; eight points for third; seven points for fourth; six points for fifth; five points for sixth; four points for seventh; three points for eighth; two points for ninth place.

FINAL REPORT CARD
PLAYERGP ARRK APRK NPRK PPRK PTSRK
BEASLEY, Vic13 298 376 101 038 0797
DUPREE, Bud12 365 288 047 065 0748
FOWLER, Dante Jr.10 432 394 065 101 0982
GREGORY, Randy11 336 441 056 074 0894
HAROLD, Eli12 269 288 038 029 0599
KIKAHA, Hau’Oli14 384 307 083 047 0806
MAULDIN, Lorenzo12 327 413 092 056 0875
ORCHARD, Nate13 491 385 029 083 0973
RAY, Shane14 403 432 074 092 0991
AVERAGE12.3 36.2  36.4  06.0  06.0  84.7
NOTES: This chart lists the statistics compiled by each defensive lineman during their respective seasons…AR indicates points scored in the above Against the Run Comparison category…AP indicates points scored in the above Against the Pass Performance Chart category…NP indicates points scored in the above Negative Plays Charged category…PP indicates points scored in the above Positive Plays Charged category…PTS indicates total points scored from all of these categories…RK indicates final ranking, based on total points scored.


RUN DEFENSE COMPARISON CHART
 STATISTICS PLAY BREAKDOWN vs. THE RUN
PlayerTK SOAS TFLNG ATTYDS TDLG YPC1st 3rd4th RZ/GL
BEASLEY037 032005 21.5-11601 026-098 0106 -03.7602 0501 01/00
DUPREE075 045030 12.5-06203 065125 0322 01.9211 1202 11/03
FOWLER053 022031 11.0-04804 059038 0109 00.6407 1200 13/10
GREGORY054 023031 10.0-06905 048031 0111 00.6508 0901 10/02
HAROLD054 029025 14.5-06503 055045 0113 00.8213 0300 06/04
KIKAHA072 053019 25.0-13903 055-011 0011 -00.5508 1000 04/01
MAULDIN051 036015 13.0-05511 046010 0011 00.2201 0400 05/03
ORCHARD084 054030 21.0-12308 081036 0114 00.4412 1801 10/09
RAY065 047018 22.5-12211 064-026 0118 -00.4103 1204 04/01
NOTES: TK indicates total tackles recorded by the defender…SO indicates solo tackles…AS indicates assisted tackles…TFL indicates tackles behind the line of scrimmage/lost yardage…NG indicates times defender stopped an opponent for no gain on a rushing attempt…ATT indicates plays made vs. the run…YDS indicates yards gained by the defender’s opponents on plays made vs. the run…TD indicates touchdowns allowed vs. the run…LG indicates longest rushing attempt gain vs. the defender…YPC indicates average yards per carry by the opponent vs. the defender…1st indicates carries by an opponent that resulted in a first down vs. the defender…3rd indicates third-down plays made by the defender vs. the run…4th indicates fourth-down plays made by the defender vs. the run…RZ/GL indicates plays made by the defender inside the red zone/on goal-line plays vs. the run.


AGAINST THE RUN COMPARISON
PLAYERGP TKARK TFLARK NGRK R/AVGRK 3/4SRK RZ/GLRK PTSTOT
BEASLEY13 02.859 1.652 0.089 -03.761 0.467 0.089 298
DUPREE12 06.252 1.048 0.256 01.929 1.173 0.922 365
FOWLER10 05.303 1.106 0.405 00.646 1.202 1.301 432
GREGORY11 04.915 0.919 0.454 00.657 0.915 0.913 336
HAROLD12 04.507 1.215 0.256 00.828 0.259 0.595 269
KIKAHA14 05.144 1.791 0.218 -00.552 0.716 0.297 384
MAULDIN12 04.258 1.087 0.921 00.224 0.338 0.426 327
ORCHARD13 06.461 1.623 0.623 00.445 1.461 0.774 491
RAY14 04.646 1.614 0.792 -00.413 1.144 0.297 403
NOTES: GP indicates games played by the athlete…TKA indicates average tackles per game…RK indicates rank in that category…TFLA indicates tackle-for-loss average per game…NG indicates tackles of ball carriers for no gain…R/AVG indicates opponent’s average gain per rushing attempt vs. the defender…3/4S indicates third and fourth-down stops vs. the run…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other players listed…The point system used rewards 10 points for a player that ranks first in a particular category; nine points for ranking second; eight points for third; seven points for fourth; six points for fifth; five points for sixth; four points for seventh; three points for eighth; two points for ninth place.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Outside of Dupree and Orchard, none of the rush ends really had great tackles figures (TKA), as most of their production came from behind the line of scrimmage rather than in the first- and second-level area. You hope that your rush end can average a half dozen tackles per game and at least one stop-for-loss. Kikaha made most of his big hits behind the line (TFLA) when charging from the second level or from the edge, but Orchard did pile up 12.5 of his stops-for-loss on the bull rush. Mauldin dealt with injury issues the last two years and his shoulder problems were eased by having him play more at the line than trying to squeeze through trash. The result was his high amount of stops vs. ball carriers for no gain (NG), as he was very good at closing on the ball and reacting quickly to the action in front of him. Beasley (12.0 sacks), Kikaha (19.0) and Ray (14.5) held runners to negative yardage for the season, but while most were the results from their lost yardage via sacks than as run stuffers, Beasley did stop runners nine times with Ray delivering losses on eight running plays. Kikaha delivered 6.5 stops-for-loss vs. running backs and Harold checked in with 7.5.


PASS DEFENSE COMPARISON CHART
 STATISTICS PLAY BREAKDOWN vs. THE PASS
PlayerTK PBINT SACKPR ATTNO YDSPCT TDLG 1st3rd 4thIC
BEASLEY037 0300 12.0-09509 1203 00525.00 0005 0004 0001
DUPREE075 0101 07.5-04405 1909 05747.37 0027 0203 0103
FOWLER053 0100 04.5-03415 2403 00712.50 0008 0114 0104
GREGORY054 0301 07.0-06716 2203 05113.64 0024 0309 0005
HAROLD054 0201 07.0-04200 0502 02440.00 0116 0101 0000
KIKAHA072 0200 19.0-13001 1812 04766.67 0108 0202 0004
MAULDIN051 0300 06.5-04211 2406 03125.00 0011 0107 0104
ORCHARD084 0300 18.5-11802 2107 06033.33 0116 0504 0110
RAY065 0100 14.5-09413 3404 03011.76 0113 0212 0113
NOTES: TK indicates total tackles recorded by the defender…PB indicates pass deflections…INT indicates interceptions…SACK indicates sacks recorded/lost yardage…PR indicates times defender pressured the quarterback…ATT indicates number of passes attempted in the defender’s area…NO indicates number of passes caught by an opponent vs. the defender…YDS indicates yards gained by the defender’s opponents on plays made vs. the pass…PCT indicates percentage of passes completed vs. the defender…TD indicates touchdowns allowed vs. the pass…LG indicates longest pass completion vs. the defender…1st indicates receptions by an opponent that resulted in a first down vs. the defender…3rd indicates third-down plays made by the defender vs. the pass…4th indicates fourth-down plays made by the defender vs. the pass…IC indicates times the defender prevented his pass coverage assignment from catching a pass (re-route/jam/covered on the play).

AGAINST THE PASS PERFORMANCE CHART
PlayerGP SKARK PRARK 1stRK 3/4SARK PDARK ICRK PTSTOT
BEASLEY13 0.924 0.695 0.001 0.317 0.234 0.088 376
DUPREE12 0.636 0.426 0.177 0.336 0.176 0.257 288
FOWLER10 0.459 1.501 0.104 1.501 0.108 0.404 394
GREGORY11 0.645 1.452 0.278 0.823 0.361 0.453 441
HAROLD12 0.587 0.009 0.082 0.089 0.252 0.009 288
KIKAHA14 1.362 0.078 0.145 0.148 0.147 0.296 307
MAULDIN12 0.548 0.924 0.082 0.674 0.252 0.335 413
ORCHARD13 1.421 0.157 0.389 0.385 0.234 0.772 385
RAY14 1.043 0.933 0.145 0.862 0.079 0.931 432
NOTES: SKA indicates average of sacks recorded per game…RK indicates rank in that category…PRA indicates average of quarterback pressures per game…1st indicates average amount of passing first downs defender allowed an opponent per game…3/4SA indicates average of third/fourth down stops made by the defender vs. the pass per game…PDA indicates average of passes defended (interceptions/ pass break-ups) by the defender per game…IC indicates times the defender prevented his pass coverage assignment from catching a pass (re-route/jam/covered on the play)…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other players listed…The point system used rewards 10 points for a player that ranks first in a particular category; nine points for ranking second; eight points for third; seven points for fourth; six points for fifth; five points for sixth; four points for seventh; three points for eighth; two points for ninth place.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES
Let’s face it, rush ends are just that – players rushing the passer. As important as the big sack is to stopping an offensive attack, rattling the quarterback on hurries and chase-downs also hold great importance, as it will generally lead to a loss-of-down. All but Fowler had very good success in getting to the quarterback for an emphatic sack. Fowler and Gregory were major nuisances in the backfield, along with Mauldin and Ray, as all reached double digits in the QB pressure department. Five of Fowler’s hurries caused interceptions or fumbles. Gregory created three turnovers and Ray four from their QB hurries. Ray and Fowler also killed the most drives, delivering 14 and 12 third- or fourth-down hits vs. the pass last season. One look at the amount of times that Orchard and Ray managed to reroute and jam receivers on pass plays (IC) and it gives you confidence that both have the athleticism and ability to handle linebacker chores at the next level. Beasley, on the other hand, was often replaced when Clemson’s defense was facing obvious passing situations and that could be the reason teams are not optimistic that he can make the conversion to being a second-level defender.


NEGATIVE PLAYS CHARGED AGAINST THE DEFENDER
PLAYERGP 1STR1STP PENTDR TDP10+R 20+R10+P 20+PNP AVGPTS TOT
BEASLEY13 0200 0201 0000 0000 0005 0.3810 1
DUPREE12 1102 0303 0001 0100 0122 1.8304 7
FOWLER10 0701 0301 0000 0000 0012 1.2006 5
GREGORY11 0803 0201 0002 0002 0119 1.7305 6
HAROLD12 1301 0601 0100 0001 0023 1.9203 8
KIKAHA14 0802 0101 0102 0000 0015 1.0708 3
MAULDIN12 0101 0100 0001 0002 0006 0.5009 2
ORCHARD13 1205 0301 0103 0003 0028 2.1502 9
RAY14 0302 0701 0001 0002 0016 1.1407 4
NOTES: 1STR indicates amount of first downs defender allowed an opponent on running plays…1STP indicates amount of first downs defender allowed an opponent on passing plays…PEN indicates amount of penalties charged to the defender…TDR indicates touchdowns defender allowed on running plays… TDP indicates touchdowns defender allowed on passing plays…10+R indicates running plays for 10 yards or longer charged to the defender…20+R indicates running plays for 20 yards or longer charged to the defender…10+P indicates passing plays for 10 yards or longer charged to the defender…20+P indicates passing plays for 20 yards or longer charged to the defender…NP indicates total amount of negative plays charged to the defender (total from each category)…AVG indicates average of negative plays charged to the defender per game…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other players listed.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES
While this chart highlights the poor performance of some of the players, Beasley’s ranking comes with an asterisk, as he was rarely on the field for passing situations and had just one particular task assigned to him – getting to the quarterback. Orchard, Harold and Dupree were run at often. If you subtract the yards lost via sacks, Dupree actually allowed an average of 3.6 yards per rushing attempt, along with being bulled over on three plays for touchdowns. Harold gave up 2.75 yards per carry and Orchard allowed 2.65 yards per tote. Both Ray and Harold were penalty prone (PEN), but Ray’s were mostly personal fouls, including one ejection for targeting, while Harold’s were more for jumping off-side. Ray needs to keep his emotions in check better and the rash of penalties came on drives that produced four touchdowns and one field goal. Harold’s issues are with cadence, but that has been a recurring factor for him throughout his career, leading some to wonder about his inconsistent ball awareness skills.


POSITIVE PLAYS MADE BY THE DEFENDER
PLAYERGP TFLNG FUMPR PD3DS 4DSTDSR TDSPRZ NPAVG PTSTOT
BEASLEY13 2301 0309 0309 0101 0001 05103.92 038
DUPREE12 1503 0205 0215 0303 0011 05904.92 065
FOWLER10 1804 0315 0126 0105 0213 08808.80 101
GREGORY11 1005 0116 0418 0101 0010 06606.00 074
HAROLD12 1604 0300 0304 0000 0006 03603.00 029
KIKAHA14 2703 0401 0212 0203 0004 05804.14 047
MAULDIN12 1411 0111 0311 0101 0005 05804.83 056
ORCHARD13 2208 0403 0222 0205 0210 08006.15 083
RAY14 2611 0313 0124 0506 0404 09706.93 092
NOTES: TFL indicates tackles behind the line of scrimmage/lost yardage (total of solos and assists)…NG indicates times defender stopped an opponent for no gain on a rushing attempt…FUM indicates total of fumbles recovered/ caused…PR indicates times defender pressured the quarterback…PD indicates pass defended (break ups/interceptions)…3DS indicates total amount of third-down plays made (pass/run)… 4DS indicates total amount of fourth-down plays made (pass/run/punt return coverage)…TDSR indicates touchdown-saving tackles made vs. the run…TDSP indicates touchdown-saving tackles made vs. the pass…RZ indicates plays made inside the red zone…NP indicates total amount of negative plays charged to the defender (total from each category)…AVG indicates average of negative plays charged to the defender per game…PTS indicates points scored for each ranking category…TOT indicates that defender’s final ranking vs. the other four players listed…The point system used rewards 10 points for a player that ranks first in a particular category; nine points for ranking second; eight points for third; seven points for fourth; six points for fifth; five points for sixth; four points for seventh; three points for eighth; two points for ninth place.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES
If you look at Fowler’s stats sheets, his season looks pretty pedestrian compared to the others, but he made the most out of those opportunities. The chart above is a good indication of who is really a clutch performer. Fowler, Orchard and Ray not only produced at a high level, but they did it in a variety of ways – whether by a sack, a tackle-for-loss, a forced fumble, a pressure or a big third- or fourth-down hit. Harold and Beasley had most or all of their success as pass rushers.

SCOUT.COM DRAFT RANKINGS

Prospects by: OVERALL RANK | Position | College | Home State | Name
Position:
QB RB FB WR TE OT OG C DT DE OLB MLB S CB K P LS



Scout NFL Network Top Stories