By: Matt Bove
With only Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Dezman Moses on the roster outside linebacker depth will be a thing needs to address in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. I think the top three of Matthews, Perry and Moses are solid, but obviously the Packers need some more depth.
Perry's development as a pass rusher opposite Matthews is one the biggest keys for the upcoming season. Perry had two sacks in four games last year and, he was really starting to come on before a wrist injury ended his season. Also, he was very good at setting the edge in the run game. I think with another year to learn the position Perry will take a step forward towards becoming a very good outside linebacker.
Since they spend a first round pick on Perry last year and have Matthews, the Packers are unlikely to draft an outside linebacker early in the draft, but they will be looking for depth later on. The draft will probably work out there will not be an outside linebacker worth taking for the Packers at pick 26 anyways. Here are my top 10 outside linebackers for the 2013 NFL Draft. (3-4 OLB's only as that is what the Packers run)
1. Dion Jordan- Oregon
Jordan is an absolute freak who is in contention to go number two overall to Jacksonville. Jordan played at defensive end, outside linebacker and even cover slot receivers at Oregon. His length, size, speed and athleticism make him a rare breed. Rushing the passer, Jordan is an explosive edge rusher with a quick first step and turns the corner well. He will need to get stronger to add some power and counter moves, but his speed rush should be lethal right away. Against the run, Jordan's long arms helped him extend and disengage blockers. However, you cannot rely on that in the NFL against lead blockers, so he will need to improve his strength. Jordan also shows no lack of effort, as he has a high motor and made plays on coming from the backside. In coverage he is extremely fluid with loose hips. Jordan's athleticism and versatility makes him the easy choice for my number one outside linebacker.
2. Jarvis Jones- Georgia
Jones was extremely productive at Georgia last season with 85 tackles, 14.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles. However, his spinal stenosis diagnosis has scared some teams off. Like Jordan, Jones is an explosive athlete and playmaker off the edge. Jones is a more polished pass rusher than Jordan at this point, but Jordan's versatility Jones' injury concerns puts Jordan over him. Watching him at Georgia, he was an animal and had a non-stop motor. Jones was very effective in stunts and twists at Georgia as well as rushing from the edge. In the run game, unlike Jordan, Jones has short arms so he has trouble getting off blocks and needs to improve his strength.
3. Damontre Moore- Texas A&M
Moore was a consensus Top 10 pick before the Combine, but his stock has been dropping ever since. He only did 12 bench reps and only ran a 4.95 40-yard-dash at the Combine. However, Moore is a classic example of people making to many conclusions about him in gym shorts rather than watching the tape. He was very productive at Texas A&M last season with 85 tackles and 12.5 sacks. Moore is more than just a speed rusher rushing the passer, although he did show enough speed to win off the edge because of his impressive quick first step. He used an array of pass rushing moves, including a nice spin move, a powerful bull-rush, and the ability to rush the inside. This makes him the most complete pass rusher in the draft at this point. Against the run, Moore has the strength and power to hold up against blockers and can disengage blockers very well. He will fall in the draft because of his combine numbers, but teams may live to regret that.
4. Barkevious Mingo- LSU
Mingo is a very raw player who relied solely on his athleticism at LSU. Learning how to play 3-4 OLB could be a challenge for him. Mingo, like Bruce Irvin last season, will not be able to play on running downs early on, as he still has to get a lot stronger and improve his technique. Mingo has a lean and athletic frame and possess elite speed of the edge. His acceleration end explosiveness are unmatched in this draft. Unfortunately , he doesn't have many other moves yet other than just using his speed.
5. Jamie Collins- Southern Miss
There is a big drop off from Mingo to Collins, as this year's 3-4 outside linebacker is pretty top heavy. Collins had a great year last year for Southern Miss, as he had 92 tackles and 10 sacks. He was a beast at the Combine, including an incredible 41.5" vertical jump. However, he is more of a freak athlete than a polished player at this point and his motor was inconsistent at Southern Miss. He is a project, but has the potential to develop into a very good player. He is very explosive and has good closing speed, but his pass rushing package is limited at this point.
6. Corey Lemonier- Auburn
Lemonier will have some issues converting to a 3-4 outside linebacker due to his lack lack of fluidity in changing direction in open space. As a pass rusher, he uses a good mix of speed and power to get to the quarterback. He ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at the Combine, which will intrigue teams. He is a big hitter who looks for the knockout blow a lot. He will just be a situational pass rusher early on.
7. Trevardo Williams- Connecticut
At this point Williams is strictly a pass rusher, as you do not know whether he can drop into coverage or whether he has the strength to play the run. He is an explosive athlete with a quick first step and is great at jumping snap counts. However, due to his strength and size limitations he is just a pure speed rusher with no power moves.
8. Chase Thomas- Stanford
Thomas is unlike most of the guys listed so far, as he is a limited athlete. He is great against the run and just plays the game relentlessly. He has a very high football IQ and is just a very active player. He isn't much of a pure pass rusher with speed off the edge, but he was able to pressure the quarterback through stunts and blitzes.
9. Brandon Jenkins- Florida State
Jenkins suffered a LisFranc injury in Florida State's first game, but he declared for the draft anyways. Jenkins is another speed rusher off the edge, but lacks the bulk and the strength to play the run well. A fairly common theme in this year's class.
10. Sean Porter- Texas A&M
Porter is a versatile player who possess a very nice frame. He is very fluid in space and showed ability to rush from the inside and outside. Needs to play more physically. Porter isn't special at anything but solid in a lot of areas.