Outside Linebackers: Final Position Rankings

2019 NFL Draft:  Top Ranked OLBs

There are no “can’t miss” first round players in this year’s outside linebacker class. Joseph, who is the best run defender of the group, might be on the board when the third round begins. It’s just not talent heavy on the top. However, by the time the third, and fourth round rolls around, expect to see the first wave of 8-10 outside linebackers come off the board. After that, teams will be looking for guys who can excel at special teams and guys with speed.

Vosean Joseph is lightning quick going downhill.
Photo: Jerome Miran/USATODAYSports

1. Vosean Joseph, Florida, 6-1/230

With Josh Allen being listed with DE’s, Joseph now sits atop the OLB rankings. Joseph shows plenty of downhill speed and lateral quickness. Has good instincts and trusts his eyes. He’s a powerful and physical ‘backer that makes splash plays. Athletic enough to cover any back.

2. Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame, 6-2/234

Tranquill is one of the good guys. A team player that will do anything asked of him. Can cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield which might get him on the field sooner than later. Will most like be a special teams standout.

3. David Long, Jr., West Virginia, 5-11/227

Much like Joseph, Long is a big play waiting to happen. He loves physical contact and tries to separate ball carriers from the ball. Generally, trusts what he sees, but can be overly aggressive at times.

4. Ben Burr-Kirvan, Washington, 6-0/230

Burr-Kirvan is a tackling machine. Played in the middle at Washington but projects either at weakside linebacker or a hybrid-safety at the next level. He ran a 4.56 at the combine. Will most likely earn his bread-and-butter on special teams to begin with.

5. Blake Cashman, Minnesota, 6-1/237

Cashman turned heads by declaring early for the draft. Known for his football IQ more than his athleticism, his Combine number were very solid. Was a tone-setter for the Gopher’s defense. Has the frame to get bigger.

6. Dakota Allen, Texas Tech, 6-1/232

Dakota Allen became a household name after his stint on season two of Netflix’s Last Chance U, but he also backed it up on the field. During the last two seasons, Allen racked up 162 total tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss in 23 games played. 

7. Tyrel Dodson, Texas A&M, 6-0/237

Dodson is a leader on and off the field: won the team’s community service award. The junior linebacker has 201 career tackles with 18.5 tackles-for-loss and 11 passes defended.

8. Gary Johnson, Texas, 6-0/225

Speed is the name of Johnson’s game. Above average range and athleticism. Can get skinny and shoot gaps. He’s at his best when playing in pursuit.

9. Cody Barton, Utah, 6-2/237

Was new to the linebacker position when he arrived in Utah back in 2016 and has been steadily growing into the position. Has played in 50 games with 23 starts in his four year career. He played inside at Utah, but has enough athleticism to move outside at the next level.

10. Chase Hansen, Utah, 6-3/222

Hansen was unable to workout for Scouts at Utah’s Pro Day, telling scouts that he had played the second half of the 2018 season with a herniated disc in his lower back. How teams view his currently medical situation will have a lot to do with how they evaluate his draft status.
Hansen’s has some of the best pass defense skills in his position group. He had 16 passed defended in his career at Utah. And in today’s pass happy NFL, his skill set would certainly be welcomed.

11. Terez Hall, Missouri, 6-1/230

Team Captain bursting with high motor energy. Loves film study and is assignment sound. Has improved his coverage skills and hands while at Mizzou. Two -year starter with 36 games played.

12. Sione Takitaki, BYU, 6-1/238

Takitaki really upped his game last year, accounting for 119 tackles, 75 of which were solo. Takitaki closes on the ball in a flash and wraps up well. He had a very solid week at the East-West Shrine game. Should make an immediate impact on special teams.

OTHER PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:

  1. T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin, 6-0/230
  2. Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas, 5-11/237
  3. B.J. Blunt, McNeese State, 6-1/220
  4. Joe-Giles Harris, Duke, 6-2/234
  5. Luke Gifford, Nebraska, 6-3/243
  6. Quinton Bell, Prairie View A&M, 6-3/238
  7. Koa Farmer, Penn State, 6-1/228
  8. Jordan Jones, Kentucky, 6-2/234
  9. Curtis Bolton, Oklahoma, 6-1/220
  10. Kaden Elliss, Idaho, 6-3/222
  11. Oluwaseun Idowu, Pittsburgh, 6-0/225
  12. Nate Harvey, East Carolina, 6-1/225
  13. Troy Reeder, Delaware, 6-1/235
  14. Deonte Roberts, Rutgers, 6-1/230
  15. Tre Crawford, Alabama-Birmingham, 6-1/228
  16. Khalil Hodge, Buffalo, 6-0/235
  17. Denzil Ware, Jacksonville State, 6-2/240
  18. Charles Wright, Vanderbilt, 6-3/240
  19. Ben Humphreys, Duke, 6-2/225
  20. Nate Hall, Northwestern, 6-2/225
  21. Gunner Scholato, Austin Peay, 6-1/233
  22. E.J. Speed, Tarleton State, 6-3/227

***

Top Five ‘Tweeners: These players were college defensive ends who will be asked to move to linebacker at the next level. They’ll need to prove they have enough athleticism to cover tight ends and running backs at the next level – something they either didn’t do in college, or did in a limited capacity. Individual and private workouts will primarily determine where they are drafted.

  1. Christian Miller, Alabama, 6-3/247
  2. Ben Banogu, Texas Christian, 6-3/250
  3. Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois, 6-0/233
  4. Jamal Davis II, Akron, 6-3/243
  5. Anree Saint-Amour, Georgia Tech, 6-3/247

***

Team Needs:

AZ | SF | NYJ | OAK | TB | NYG | JAX | DET | BUF | DEN | CIN | GB | MIA | ATL | WASH | CAR | CLE |MIN | TEN | PIT | SEA | BALT | HOU | CHI | PHI | IND | DAL | LAC | KC | NO | LAR | NE

***

The 2019 NFL Draft will be held Thursday-Saturday, April 25-27 in Nashville, Tenn.

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