Draft Grades for Top 10 by Position - 3-4 OLBs

By Lance Zierlein
March 29, 2013

The list of OLBs is a little thin in 2012.

3-4 Outside Linebacker Rankings

Outside Linebacker School Round
Dion Jordan Oregon 1st
Barkevious Mingo LSU 1st
Jarvis Jones Georgia 1st
Jamie Collins Southern Miss 2nd
Trevardo Williams Connecticut 2nd/3rd
Corey Lemonier Auburn 3rd
Lerentree McCray Florida 3rd/4th
Brandon Jenkins Florida St. 3rd/4th
Michael Buchanon Illinois 4th
Quanterus Smith W. Kentucky 5th


There are plenty of hybrid pass rushers coming out of college these days, but the list of OLBs in this year's draft leave quite a bit to be desired.

I am a huge fan of the potential of Dion Jordan, but I also realize that he is primarily a projection-based prospect who is going to be drafted on what he will/should do rather than what he has done.  Jordan is long and can cover a ton of ground from the 3-4 OLB spot.  He's got great edge rush potential, but he's still very raw with his pass rushing skills right now.

Barkevious Mingo looked like a better player last year than this year, but LSU also asked him to play a little tighter this year and they had him dropping into coverage more than I remember last year.  Mingo has the physical attributes that will get him drafted within the first 16 picks, but I don't think his tape from 2012 warrants it.

I don't care what Jarvis Jones' 40 time was at his pro day, it is clear that he has football speed.  Jones is a more polished pass rusher than probably any player on this top 10 list and he can be moved around on the field.  There are medical concerns surrounding Jones, but one of the issues that continues to stick with me is that I can't find a position where I feel comfortable locking Jones in at.  He feels like a 3-4 OLB / 4-3 DE tweener to me for some reason.  Then again, so did Bruce Irvin and he went early last year.

Jamie Collins and Corey Lemonier represent tremendous potential, but carry some "buyer beware" tape.  Collins is an outstanding athlete who has a phenomenal closing burst which helps him get to ball carriers at angles that other LBs can't.  He lines up on the line of scrimmage at times and has shown an ability to rush the passer with that same burst off the edge.  Scouts will tell you that some of Collins tape is simply not what it should be.  Lemonier has that same edge burst, but he was a disappointment over the second half of the season.  I am willing to give a higher grade than most might on both players due to their upside/ceiling.

Trevardo Williams is very intriguing thanks to his effortless change of direction skills and overall motor.  With his compact frame may remind some of Dwight Freeney when he was coming out of Syracuse, Freeney was bigger and much more explosive.  I think Williams could easily fit in as a DE, but at 6'1, most teams would probably rather have him at OLB in a 3-4.

Lerentee McCray has shown an ability to stand up or put his hand on the ground and he has played on both the left and right side so he has the versatility he needs to play in a 3-4 as an OLB.  I think he has deceptive power and it is partly due to having fairly long arms for his height.  I think he gets up under tackles at times because they don't expect him to be able to get his hands on them so quickly.  While McCray's change of direction is just okay, I do like his potential with a physical 3-4 front.

Brandon Jenkins' season was over before it began thanks to a foot injury in the opening game, but I didn't think his tape from 2011 was good enough to warrant a 1st/2nd grade as some were hypothesizing.  There is potential there, but I can't see taking him any earlier than middle of the 3rd.  Michael Buchanon has the athleticism to play at 3-4 OLB as well as his natural position of 4-3 DE.  After the first few selections, there isn't as many OLB candidates as you might think and Buchanon is a player who could potentially be a target at that position by a team looking for length at the position.

Quanterus Smith had some moments during the season, but I just didn't see enough projected talent to have him any higher than I do.