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2014 NFL Draft: eDraft's Official Post-Combine Outside Linebacker Rankings

2014 NFL Draft: eDraft's Official Post-Combine Outside Linebacker Rankings
By Matt Johnson on March 02, 2014

The eDraft Top-100 prospects list is out and with our composite rankings, we now bring you positional rankings. Each position group is ranked in exact order with our Top-100, from the top player all the way to the bottom. Here we will provide a short breakdown of each player taking a further look at them and expanding on thoughts from the rankings.

The outside linebacker group ranked near the top in amount of players in our top-100 prospects and offers outside linebackers with different skill-sets and defensive-ends who could be making the transition to outside linebacker. Four outside linebackers received top-32 grades with two more in the top-50.

 

1. Khalil Mack, Outside Linebacker, Buffalo

The top linebacker in the 2014 class, Mack’s stock has been rising up the boards since his breakout performance. Mack is an outstanding athlete who has shown outstanding ability to rush the passer and get into the backfield.

But what makes him truly outstanding is his versatility to play any linebacker position in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Mack stands out as a pass rusher but also impresses in coverage and versus the run, he is a Pro Bowl-caliber player who should be a top-five pick in May.

 

2. Anthony Barr, Outside Linebacker, UCLA

Barr’s been the opposite of Mack since the college football season started back in August. Originally seen as the best linebacker in the class and someone who could potentially challenge for the top pick, Barr’s play and stock slid down the boards to where it now sits in the 20’s.

He is still making adjustments in just his second year on defense, but you didn’t see the progression from year one to year two that many hoped for. He is a great athlete but a very raw prospect. His potential makes him worthy of a first-round selection, but we aren’t talking about a top-five player anymore.

 

3. Dee Ford, Outside Linebacker, Auburn

Turn on the BCS National Championship and Texas A&M game and the player that will jump out at you from Auburn is Ford.  Facing off against future first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi, Ford destroyed him with speed and an unbelievable first step to slip past the tackle and hit the quarterback.

Ford might only have speed working for him, but when you have it you’re going to use it and it’s hard to match Ford’s quickness. After dominating against Florida State, Ford carried that success over and was the star of the Senior Bowl. Now a likely first-round pick, teams are falling in love with Ford.

 

4. Kyle Van Noy, Outside Linebacker, BYU

Heralded as one of the top defensive prospects entering the year, Van Noy didn’t deliver on all of the expectations people had for him in his final season. But after a disappointing year, Van Noy dominated at the Senior Bowl to bring the spotlight back.

Van Noy showed at the senior bowl he can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 or 4-3, just finding ways to get to the football. While he doesn’t excel in any one area, his game is well rounded and he has all of the fundamentals you look for in an NFL-ready player. Likely a second-round value pick come May, Van Noy will make plenty of coaches happy.

 

5. Ryan Shazier, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State

Shazier has seen his draft stock go on a rollercoaster ride this season, ranging from top-15 to outside the top-45. He looks like a safety in pads but played well at linebacker for the Buckeyes this year showing off his range, and can make scouts drool with his lightning first step.

He is still adjusting to the position and doesn’t have the type of body you can count on in a linebacker. Lacks discipline on the field, drawing penalties and always playing with a chip on his shoulder, which could be a good and bad thing. In a thinner draft he is without question a first-round pick, but now looks like an early second round selection.

 

6. Jeremiah Attaochu, Outside Linebacker, Georgia Tech

Attaochu is a work in progress but teams are willing to wait just to get his pass-rush ability now. He is an outstanding athlete who shined this year and climbed his way up the rankings, can fit perfectly as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

While he is still a work in progress, you saw signs of improvement this season especially versus the run and getting into the backfield. But coaches need to work with him on his aggressiveness and doing a better job getting outside the tackle. Attaochu is a potential first-round pick who will fit perfectly in a 3-4 defense.

 

7. Telvin Smith, Outside Linebacker, Florida State

Smith is another example of determining the importance of size and where it puts a prospect’s value. Smith is too big for safety and too small for linebacker, but there is no denying his athleticism and instincts. He flies around the field and creates turnovers, bringing the heart you wish more players would have.

The big question here, is where do coaches put him? At 220 pounds it’s hard to determine where he will play, but he is a very good football player with a nose for the football. Size will remain a concern but once he settles in, coaches will love him.

 

8. Jackson Jeffcoat, Outside Linebacker, Texas

Football runs through Jeffcoat’s bloodlines, his father, Jefferson, was a standout defensive lineman for the Dallas Cowboys who shined getting after the quarterback. He also comes from a prestigious program with the Longhorns and has received plenty of attention since high school.

Injuries have been a big issue for Jackson Jeffcoat, but when he is healthy he is one of the more impressive defensive players in this group. He played defensive end at Texas, but has worked on making the adjustments to play outside linebacker who excels getting after the quarterback. If he checks out with doctors, Jeffcoat’s stock could rise a month leading up to the draft and potentially squeeze his name into the second round conversation.

 

9. Carl Bradford, Outside Linebacker, Arizona State

Another pass-rush specialist who will make his money off destroying the quarterback and finding his way into the backfield. Bradford is one of few true outside linebackers in this class, and will receive plenty of addition from teams.

More teams are looking for pass-rushers and that’s precisely what Bradford brings to the table. While he may not bring a lot outside of that, he can play a key role for a playoff team. Likely should hear his name called in the top-75 selections.

 

10. Adrian Hubbard, Outside Linebacker, Alabama

If you dig deep enough you will find greatness in every individual, and the same thing applies for draft prospects. Hubbard has been one of the biggest disappointments since 2012, but with the right coaching staff he could be great.

A horrific performance at the Senior Bowl along with some questions about how quick he is off the ball, Hubbard has a lot of questions facing him heading into the draft. He offers great size and nice speed, making him a project player and later pick.

Matt Johnson

Matt "Bigfoot" Johnson

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