Scouting the 2004 Draft OLB Position

The Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Buccaneers have shown that defensive schemed teams can win championships. Peter Boulware and Derrick Brooks have been a big part of top defensive teams that reeked havoc on QBs around the league.<br><br> Many scouts have been looking for speedy, powerful Lbs that rush the QB, drop back in coverage and support the run. This years class just might be a hidden treasure of such players.

Full Name: Michael Boulware School: Florida St

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 226 40: 4.51 Number: 58


Started every game at strongside linebacker, named to the All-ACC second team and a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. Second on the team with 127 total tackles, also broke up 7 passes, forced three fumbles and had 4 tackles for loss.

2001: Tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions and ranked fourth in tackles with 81. Also recovered 2 fumbles and f4 pass break-ups.

2000: FSU's top tackler on kickoff teams, finishing the season with 21 tackles and 2 forced fumbles.

The Good: Tremendous athlete continually growing as a football player and quickly turning into a complete linebacker. Fast, explosive and a defender with great range and the ability to make plays in all directions off the field. Covers a lot of area, can play over the slot receiver and possesses excellent skills in pass coverage. Disciplined, patient and takes good angles to the action, snuffing out the play. Solid footwork moving laterally or backwards. Reads and keys the action much better than he's given credit for.

The Bad: Tall, thin and though he's added bulk, not physically developed at this point. Squares and wraps-up into tackles but has them broken.

The Skinny: A great prospect, Boulware will quickly grow into an every down linebacker at the next level. He should immediately see action on the weakside yet don't be surprised if he grows into a strongside defender. Carries a first round grade but could slide out of the top 32.

Full Name: Kellen Brantley School: Wake Forest

Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 240 40: 4.71 Number: 54


Started all 13 games, finished sixth on the team with 61 total tackles, tied for second with 5 tackles for loss and also one sack, one interception and 2 pass breakups.

2001: Started all 11 games at inside linebacker, finishing second on the team in tackles with 95, also recording 11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and a team-high 3 interceptions.

2000: Saw action in all 11 games as a freshman tallying 33 total tackles, including 22 solo stops.

The Good: Smart, explosive linebacker efficient against the run or pass. Displays good range, lateral speed and has a closing burst. Quick changing direction, squares into ball carriers and brings them down on initial contact.

The Bad: Short and engulfed on the second level by lineman. A bit stiff.

The Skinny: Brantley does not get the credit he deserves and is a prospect that could surprise at the next level. Though teams will be turned off by the tape measure it is hard to pass up Brantley's head and speed.

Full Name: Karlos Dansby School: Auburn

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 231 40: 4.57 Number: 11


Associated Press and Coaches First-Team All-SEC selection. Led the team with 14 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. Second on the team with 3 interceptions and 9 quarterback hurries and fourth on the team with 76 tackles.

2001: Finished the season third on the team with 59 tackles including 8 tackles for loss. Led the team with 5 interceptions.

2000: Partial qualifier that practiced but could not play.

The Good: Explosive and exciting playmaking defender with a tremendous amount of upside potential for the next level at a variety of linebacker positions. Displays a good head for the play, immediately keys or diagnoses the action then locates the ball. Disciplined, stays with assignments and tough. Holds his ground against blocks by bigger lineman or defeats them and not afraid to mix it up. Easily stays with running back in pass coverage, displays great footwork and excellent speed. Quick getting to the flanks in run defense. Immediately alters his angle of attack or changes direction, fires up the field and has a burst of closing speed in every direction. Very sudden, explosive and quickly flashes on the scene. Strong at the point and brings ball carriers down on initial contact.

The Bad: Tall and slender, which initially gives him problems handling blocks. More built up speed rather than first step quickness.

The Skinny: A terrific athlete, Dansby impacted the Auburn defense from the day he stepped on the field. He could play either of the outside linebacker positions and though he may take a little time getting adjusted to the strength of the NFL opponents, a quality every down defender for the future and very high pick next April.

Full Name: Keyaron Fox School: Georgia Tech

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 223 40: 4.61 Number: 54


Tech's third-leading tackler with 92, recorded 13 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 6 pass breakups, and one interception.

2001: Tech's second-leading tackler with 95, had 8 tackles for loss and 2 sacks, plus 4 pass breakups and 3 quarterback hurries. Named Tech's Most Improved Defensive Player.

2000: Suffered a broken left arm against North Carolina and missed three games, but was able to return for the final three contests, playing with a cast.

The Good: Explosive, athletic linebacker mentally growing into the position. Fast blitzing up the field, has a closing burst of speed and flashes on the scene. Displays great range in pass coverage yet also fast to the flanks and cuts the corners off. Vicious and hard-hitting.

The Bad: Hesitant, slow to react and must improve his overall instincts. Lacks the classic size.

The Skinny: Fox has the physical skills and speed to play at the next level. While needs to iron out his game, become more cognizant and quicker with reads, he has the ability to be a productive future starter in the NFL.

Full Name: Marques Harris School: Colorado

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 226 40: 4.64 Number: 30


Honorable mention All-Big 12 honors from the Big 12 Coaches. Started all 14 games posting 68 tackles, a team best 14 tackles for losses, 4 sacks and 11 quarterback pressures.

2001: Started all 13 games at defensive end. Racked up 51 tackles, 6 for loss and 3 sacks. He tied for the team lead in hurries with 8, was fourth on the team with 11 third down stops, had 3 pass deflections and an interception.

2000: Played in all 11 games, including two starts as the nickel defensive back against Oklahoma State and Missouri.

The Good: College down lineman who projects to outside linebacker at the next level. Plays low with leverage, displays good first step quickness and pursues the action from all angles with speed. Tenacious, adjusts or redirects well and works his hands to get off blocks. Nice closing burst of speed and has displayed skill in the past when dropped off the line.

The Bad: Rarely asked to stand up over tackle and pass cover skills are unknown. Broke a leg early in the season and will return to CU for a fifth year in 2004.

The Skinny: A pass rush specialist and athletic defensive end in college, Harris is very much like former Colorado Buffalo Greg Jones. He will test well athletically and looks the part but is a risk as the ability to read and react off the line of scrimmage is a relative unknown for Harris.

Full Name: Derrick Johnson School: Texas

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 230 40: 4.68 Number: 11


2002: Started all 13 games at weakside linebacker; a consensus first-team All-Big 12 selection and became just the second Texas linebacker to be named a Butkus Award semifinalist. Second on the team with 120 tackles and 4 interceptions. Also registered 13 tackles for loss, a pair of sacks, 10 pressures and 10 pass breakups.

2001: Saw action in all 13 games, starting the Oklahoma and Texas Tech games. Named the Big 12 co-Defensive Freshman of the Year, second-team all-conference and Defensive Newcomer of the Year. Ranked second on the team with 83 tackles, third with 13 tackles for loss and fourth with 4.5 sacks.

The Good: Gifted linebacker who could effectively be used on the inside or at outside. Fires up the field in run defense yet shows good range and sideline-to-sideline movement. Scrapes well laterally, fast to the flanks and or in pursuit of the action. Ever improving in all aspects.

The Bad: Not the most efficient, bites on the play action and gets confused. Late reactor. Game lacks suddenness.

The Skinny: Johnson has outstanding physical skills, prototypical linebacker size and a tenacity that will make him highly desired when he enters the draft. Better in the box and making plays going forward, he still needs to improve his mental skills in pass coverage. That said, the arrow is pointing up for Johnson who will be a high pick when he enters the draft.

Full Name: Teddy Lehman School: Oklahoma

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 240 40: 4.51 Number: 11


Chevrolet National Defensive Player of the Year, one of three finalists for the Butkus Award, first team All-American by AP, and a consensus All-Big 12. Second on the team with 112 tackles, and 17 tackles for loss.

2001: Started at linebacker in 11 regular season games and the bowl game. Third on team with 83 tackles, registered 2 sacks and had one interception return for a touchdown.

2000: One of three true freshmen to see time on defense, playing in 12 games mainly on special teams.

The Good: Smart, instinctive linebacker that plays the game like a man possessed and brings a lot of intensity to a defense. Amazingly quick in his head and immediately keys the play or diagnoses the action before it unfolds. Disciplined, stays with assignments yet tough and flies around the ball, sacrificing his body to make the tackle. Does an outstanding job with the defensive calls. Plays with excellent speed, fast to the flanks and scrapes laterally. Gets depth on pass drops, good range and very cognizant when the ball is in the air. Makes tackles on his knees if necessary, always squaring and wrapping up the ball carrier.

The Bad: Short and engulfed at the point.

The Skinny: There is not much to dislike about Lehman's game. His athleticism, brains and tenacity are exactly what one wants in a defensive captain and this will all endear him to a coaches heart. Should quickly move into the starting line-up at the next level and produce from the word "go".

Full Name: Kendyll Pope School: Florida St

Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 218 40: 4.55 Number: 9


2002: Earned a spot on the All-ACC second team after leading the team with 131 total tackles. Also posted 12 tackles for loss, 5 pass break-ups and 2 interceptions on the season.

2001: Started every regular season game and second on the team in total tackles with 113. Fourth on the team with 7 tackles for loss, recorded 2 sacks and credited with 5 pass break-ups on the season.

2000: Spent his true freshman season backing up Tommy Polley at weakside linebacker. Standout on special teams.

The Good: Solid weakside prospect with a good head for the ball. Quick picking up assignments, instinctive and immediately finds the ball. Goes sideline-to-sideline, gets through the traffic and makes a lot of plays laterally. Gets depth on pass drops and has excellent range. Plays heads up football.

The Bad: Tends to grab tackle rather than wrap-up. Slow shedding blocks once engaged at the point. Lacks the flat out speed and does not flash on the scene. Bothered with knee injuries this season.

The Skinny: Pope reminds us of a lesser version of Tommy Polley at this point in his career with the ability to cover the pass and willingness to defend the run. With the depth and talent at linebacker this year Pope will slide further into the first day than his skills warrant. Still, he could develop into a starter at the next level.

Full Name: Dontarrious Thomas School: Auburn

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 225 40: 4.58 Number: 54


2002: Third on the team with 92 tackles, second on the team with 11 tackles for loss. Named the Capital One Bowl Defensive MVP after totaling eight tackles, a sack and a pass break-up. Named to the Verizon Academic All-District second-team.

2001: Named to the Coaches All-SEC second-team and SEC Academic Honor Roll selection. Finished with 122 tackles, twice more than any other player on the team and led the team with 9 tackles for loss.

2000: Named to the Coaches Freshman All-SEC team. Finished third on the team with 62 tackles including 4 tackles for loss.

The Good: Imposing athlete that forces the action everywhere on the field. Fast moving laterally, cuts the flanks off from runners, taking on then defeating blocks on his way to the action. Bends his knees, plays with leverage and has a closing burst of speed. Good long speed and range in pass coverage, covers a lot of ground and comfortable in space.

The Bad: Mentally hesitates in pass defense, which causes him to arrive on the scene a half step late. Does not flash on the scene and not explosive. Takes extra steps and not efficient.

The Skinny: Thomas could develop into a very good strongside linebacker at the next level and should be a relatively high pick. He's a tremendous athlete and hard worker yet must pick up the details of his position and vastly improve his pass cover skills.

Full Name: D.J. Williams School: Miami-Fl

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 250 40: 4.55 Number: 17


2002: Semi-finalists for the Butkus Award and a second-team All-BIG EAST selection after registering 108 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 4 quarterback sacks. Broke up 8 passes and forced 2 fumbles.

2001: Starter at weakside linebacker after moving from fullback, starting all but one game of the season. Finished with 43 tackles, including a team-leading 10 tackles in the season-opening victory at Penn State.

2000: Played in 11 games at fullback and on special teams.

The Good: Tremendous athlete whose physical skills rate at the top of the linebacker list. Plays with excellent speed, quick arriving on the scene and strong at the point. Slides off blocks or defeats them altogether, taking on then beating offensive linemen. Breaks down well playing with leverage and has a nice move to the ball. Excellent range and easily stays with tight ends anywhere on the field. Hard hitter who intimidates opponents or leaves ball carriers stunned at the point of attack.

The Bad: Hesitant to react, lacks the great instincts and not always properly positioned to make a play in pass coverage. Does not take the best angles to the action nor is he an efficient defender.

The Skinny: Williams' athletic skills are worthy of an early selection but his mental hesitation is disconcerting. Though he has improved his reads, Williams is still a late reactor and has given up several big plays already this season on screen passes and the like. Could be a productive player at the next level but must be put in a simplified defense where his responsibilities are kept simple and easy.

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