Top Outside Linebackers In 2019 Draft

1. Kentucky DE Josh Allen – Senior – 6-5, 262 – 4.63
Allen came to Kentucky as a two-star recruit who kept developing year by year, until he became a full blown star as a sophomore. He shot up everyone’s draft chart with an exceptional final season in which he recorded 17 sacks in 13 games, which was the best in the SEC. He won the Bronko Nagurski Award for most outstanding defensive player, the Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year, the Ronnie Lott Award for defensive impact player of the year, and was also first-team all-American and SEC player of the year. Other than Nick Bosa, he is the best edge rusher in this draft. Allen explodes out of the gate and has a tremendous amount of speed. He’s flexible to bend around the end and matches that with power, recording 42 tackles for loss, 31.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles for the Wildcats. The Bucs were at his pro day workout and had him in for a Top 30 visit.

2. Mississippi State OLB Montez Sweat – Senior – 6-6, 260 – 4.41
Sweat was Michigan State for two years and only played in one game before going to Copiah- Lincoln Community College and then transferring to Mississippi State. Sweat was on a tear at the Senior Bowl this year, barreling over offensive linemen and even incidentally ripping off another player’s helmet as well. He has good length in his arms that allows him to extend and see the play before getting by, which makes him a formidable run stopper. He’s at his best rushing the passer with great strides off of the ball, and blazed a 4.41 time in the 40-yard dash, which solidified his Top 15 draft status. Sweat had 103 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, and 22.5 sacks in 26 games for the Bulldogs. It was revealed at the Combine that Sweat has a pre-existing heart condition, so that will be something to monitor. Tampa Bay had Sweat in for a Top 30 visit after back-to-back double-digit sack seasons in the SEC.

3. Florida State OLB Brian Burns – Junior – 6-5, 249 – 4.53
Burns has the full bag of tricks when it comes to pass rushing moves. He’s quick and can spin inside, swim, rip, and do any other pass rush technique that’s been done. Burns has a large wingspan, letting him get a handle on the quarterback and using his 4.53 speed to tear around the corner with great bend and pad level. Burns had six forced fumbles in his career, so knows how to find the ball. While he excels as a pass rusher, Burns isn’t as equipped in stopping the run. He played around 230 pounds for most of his time at Florida State and there are some questions about his ability to convert speed to power on tape and at the next level despite the fact that he added nearly 15 pounds of bulk before the NFL Scouting Combine. Burns had 123 tackles and 23 sacks at Florida State and visited One Buc Place prior to the draft.

Louisiana Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson

Louisiana Tech DE Jaylon Ferguson – Photo by: Getty Images

4. Louisiana Tech OLB Jaylon Ferguson – Senior – 6-5, 271 – 4.82
This player knows pass rushing, as he is the all-time sack leader in NCAA history with 45 career sacks. He would fit well in the 4-3, with a strong ability to tackle. Ferguson has talent with many traits such as his technique, flexibility, and movement, but isn’t elite in any of them. He lacks upper body strength and can get sloppy in his stance, though he shouldn’t be overlooked just because he played at a smaller school. Ferguson had a notable story about getting his invite rescinded from the NFL Scouting Combine after a background check about him found that he got in a fight at McDonald’s back in his freshman year. It seemed like a bit of an overreaction from the Combine and it shouldn’t drop his draft stock. The Bucs had Ferguson in for a Top 30 visit and he’s viewed as a second-round pick.

5. Florida OLB Jachai Polite – Junior – 6-3, 258 – 4.84
Polite had a real good junior year when he really became noticed nationally. In that season, he recorded 45 tackles, 19.5 of them for a loss, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles in 13 games. He’s got long size as a strong run defender, while having a good jump off the snap. Polite seemed to be on the right track until the NFL Scouting Combine, and now may have derailed his draft potential. He posted very poor numbers in his drills, but even worse, he made public comments about not enjoying some interviews with teams like the 49ers and Packers because they “bashed” him during their personal interviews. Polite should have just kept that to himself, and teams will surely take notice. Still, he’s talented and will likely go in the second round. Polite visited the Bucs on a local visit.

6. Old Dominion OLB Oshane Ximines – Redshirt Senior – 6-3, 253 – 4.78
Ximines does well with getting his hands on his opponent first and using his power and speed to do the rest to get in the backfield. Physically as a player he is fine, but Ximines lacks the proper bend that you see from some of the best NFL players that you see today. He’s a solid athlete with average lateral movement. He’ll need to work on some of his technique at the next level. Ximines had 176 tackles, 32.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and an interception during his time at Old Dominion.

7. Michigan OLB Chase Winovich – Senior – 6-3, 256 – 4.59
He is the hard-nosed competitor that you want as a player on your team. While on the Wolverines, Winovich had 166 tackles, 43 for a loss, and 18.5 sacks in his career. His best season came as a junior, where he recorded a personal high of 8.5 sacks. He’s a tireless energy guy that expresses toughness out on the field while also carrying a high football IQ. What he could work on his flexibility if he wants to set the edge.

8. Stanford OLB Bobby Okereke – Senior – 6-1, 239 – 4.58
It’s important to have athletic players on your team, but it’s also good to have players with a high football IQ. This may not come as a surprise with Stanford being his school, but Okereke is an intelligent football player. He’s also actually has both an undergrad and bachelor’s degree while also playing college football. Okereke is a player that you can count on to be in the right place during the middle of a play. He’s excellent in tracking the ball carrier through both shedding blocks are making the stop one on one in open space. His arms are massive, measuring at 34 inches which makes it easy for him to wrap up and get his hands in there to rip the ball out. He even had a forced fumble during the practice sessions at the Senior Bowl where Okereke was among the most impressive from the linebacker position. He ended up with 227 tackles and 10 sacks with the Cardinal.

9. Georgia OLB D’Andre Walker – Senior – 6-2, 251 – N/A
Playing in a limited role during his first two seasons, Walker really put it together once becoming a starter for his junior and senior year. This included seasons of 39 and 45 tackles and 5.5 and 7.5 sacks, increasing each year. He stood out most with his tackles for loss, with 13.5 and 11.5, showing a nose for the backfield. Walker is a run stopper that stands his down at the line of scrimmage, but he lacks proper passing rushing skills and must continue to work in that area.

10. Alabama OLB Christian Miller – Senior – 6-3, 247 – N/A
Miller can be a little slow off the ball but he makes up for it with his hand technique and arsenal of pass rushing moves. While at Alabama, Miller was primarily a backup before he was going to get his shine as a junior, but he tore his bicep in the season opener and wasn’t able to play until his senior year. Once returning though, he battled through adversity and showed off that pass rushing skills when he finally got a shot to start. Miller had eight sacks and 11 tackles for losses in his senior year on the Crimson Tide.

Best Of The Rest

11. Clemson OLB Tre Lamar – Junior – 6-3, 253 – 4.95
Lamar was a four-star recruit at Clemson that saw him win two National Championships. He started right away as freshman all the way to declaring for the draft after his junior season. In that time, he notched eight sacks with 146 tackles in 34 games for the Tigers. Lamar is physically imposing, using his big size to close off a gap when heading into the line. His size does limit his lateral movement, and he’ll have to overcome a very slow time in the 40-yard dash and rely on his college game tape.

12. TCU OLB Ben Banogu – Senior – 6-3, 250 – 4.62
Teams looking for a player who can explode off the ball should be interested in Banogu. He’s got the speed and directional ability to really develop into a high-end pass rusher. He’ll have to get a little stronger while growing as a player, but all of the tools are present for this linebacker. After one season at Louisiana-Monroe in 2015, Banogu transferred to TCU, but had to sit out year due to the NCAA’s transfer rule. He then produced two straight years with 8.5 sacks in 2017 and 2018, notching a total of 17 sacks and 156 tackles over that span. His play was good enough for an invite to the Senior Bowl and could be a steal on Day 3.

13. Arkansas OLB Dre Greenlaw – Senior – 5-11, 237 – 4.53
Greenlaw has those quick twitch bursts of speed that lets him close down on a runner. He had steady competition playing in the SEC, and that helped him develop his quickness. As a Razorback, Greenlaw played in a total of 40 games and recorded 321 tackles while notching 4 sacks and three interceptions. He has a lot of work to do with reading and reacting to a play earlier, sometimes it’s too little too late. He’ll have to put his athleticism to use on special teams starting out before developing more of his game.

14. Oregon OLB Jalen Jelks – Senior – 6-5, 256 – 4.92
Jelks is lightning fast off the ball. He showed off that quickness with a good performance during the practice sessions at the Senior Bowl, where he won the majority of his one-on-one battles against opposing offensive linemen. While he has the speed, he needs to clean up some of his technique to get balanced and in position. Jelks’ best year with Ducks came during his junior season, where he recorded 59 tackles, with seven sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss and seven pass deflections. He went from playing defensive end during his first three years to playing linebacker as a senior.

Wyoming DE Carl Granderson - Photo by: Getty Images

Wyoming DE Carl Granderson – Photo by: Getty Images

15. Wyoming OLB Carl Granderson – Senior – 6-5, 254 – 4.79
Granderson statistically doesn’t blow anyone away, but he has length and size that gives him good separation from a blocker that’s trying to lock in with him. He can cut down into the gap and blow a place up, but doesn’t have lateral quickness. There’s still more to be desired with his burst off the ball, though his skill set did get him an invite to the Senior Bowl. Granderson had 173 tackles and 16.5 sacks while playing for the Cowboys.

Click Page 3 For The Bucs’ Best Bets At OLB

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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surferdudes
2 years ago

Nassib, JPP are defensive ends, not OLBers. I’ll ask this again, reminds me of Abbott, and Costillos who’s on first? If those two are playing OLB, who’s playing D end? JPP played D end his whole career, mostly in a 4-3. I’m sure he can be a stud as a D end in a 3-4, but I can’t see him as a stand up OLB. Same goes for Nassib although I think he has more ability to play OLB. So the way I see it we don’t need D ends as much as true OLB’s, or any LB’s. First pick… Read more »

LIBucsFan93
2 years ago

In a traditional 4-3 defense Nassib and JPP would play DE. In standard 3-4 defenses the DL normally consists of bulkier DLmen who can pressure the QB with Bull rush moves. The DL primary responsibility is to clog up running lanes to allow the 4 LB to do their jobs and pursue the Runner or drop in Coverage.

JPP and Nassib lack the bulk to play DL/DE in a 3-4 style defense.