Top Five: Outside Linebackers in the 2013 NFL Draft

jarvisjones

As we start to head more heavily into free agency and the draft season, we wanted to start a series of posts that introduces some of the top names at each position in the 2013 draft class.  Ed Valentine of BBV had a good idea with his series, so we’re stealing a page from his work.  So without further ado, we’re going to starting piecing together lists of the top five prospects at each spot based on the Perfectly Coiffed One’s lists and then adding some consensus data (CBS, Fox, etc.) on round rankings.

Next up, the top five outside linebackers.

Jarvis Jones* - Georgia – 6’3″ 241 lbs (1st Round)
Khaseem Greene - Rutgers – 6’1″ 230 lbs (2nd Round)
Jamie Collins - Southern Miss – 6’3″ 239 lbs (2nd-3rd Round)
Chase Thomas - Stanford – 6’4″ 239 lbs (2nd-3rd Round)
Arthur Brown – Kansas State – 6’1″ 228 lbs (2nd Round)

Jets Status: The problem of course with most of this group is that they don’t fit that 6’2″+ / 260 lbs+ mark that anyone who runs even a partial 3-4 wants out of those outside linebackers.  Why is that?  They need OLBs who can stack against an offensive tackle and shed that block, or to hold the block and set the edge of the play against a much bigger player. This is a hard spot to draft and most of the 4-3 OLBs wouldn’t work for the Jets.  Even a top talent like Jarvis Jones is going to need to add some weight to his frame for the Jets to work best in a 3-4 set.  This is is one of the most wide open spots on the Jets roster with the pending cut of Calvin Pace and the assumed plan to not re-sign Bryan Thomas.  Add in that Garrett McIntyre was not a consistently good player for the Jets in 2012 and we now have a wide open race for who might get to play more in 2013.  Ricky Sapp is well positioned, but he’s going to have to work hard to fend off any potential free agents, but even if they draft a player there’s still two starting spots to fill at the present.

Analysis:  Jones is one of the most adept playmaking linebackers in this class, but he’s been questioned because of a degenerative back condition call spinal stenosis.  Even so, Jones has been compared to Von Miller, minus a little bit of open field tackling ability and explosiveness off the snap.  Green is known for being a very competent open-field player and is particularly skilled at creating turnovers.  He’s good in coverage because he actually has experience playing the safety spot.  His biggest drawback is that he’s not as physical as much as he is elusive, something that unless the Jets were to switch over to a full-on 4-3, would be a real problem.   Jaime Collins has an uncanny blend of speed, fluidity and flexibility for his size that allow him to track the ballcarrier, blitz or drop in coverage well.  Collins is the cliche draft conundrum, the freakish athlete who might not possess the instincts to excel in the NFL.  Thomas is pretty much the opposite of Collins.  It’s hard for opponents to counter him because of his high-motor, agility and sound leverage techniques coupled with high disciplined and high IQ football.  Even so, he isn’t an explosive athlete and won’t be much help in blitzing the QB because of it.  Arthur Brown will be a great tackler and container in the NFL, but has yet to display an ability to turn the ball over.

Keep an Eye On … : We know this analysis won’t be particularly satisfying to Jets fans because it doesn’t really scratch the itch for the type of player that the Jets need at OLB.  Still, of this group Jarvis Jones would be a real possibility for the Jets.  Also, I like the potential of guys a little further down in the draft like Brandon Jenkins (proj 2-3), John Simon (proj. 3) and Lerentree McCray (proj. 5th).




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