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2011 NFL Draft - Outside Linebacker Rankings
Texas A&M OLB/DE Von Miller
Texas A&M OLB/DE Von Miller
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 22, 2011


Led by Texas A&M's Von Miller, there are plenty of very good, very athletic pass rushers who can get into the backfield on a regular basis. Can they hold up against the run? Can they do more than hit the quarterback? This is a deep group, but it's also, potentially, full of specialists. With the draft less than a week away, check out the CFN ranking of the top outside linebacker prospects.

2011 NFL Draft Position Rankings

Top Ten Outside Linebackers


By Pete Fiutak

- All-Time Greatest Draft - Linebackers
- 2011 NFL Outside Linebacker Rankings - No. 11 - 25

2011 NFL Prospect Rankings & Breakdowns
- QBs | RBs | FBs | WRs
- TEs | OTs | OGs | Cs 
- OLBs | ILBs | DTs | DEs 

2011 NFL Post-Combine Draft Rankings
- Top 32 Talents
- 2nd Rounders
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- 4th Rounders
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- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders & Top Free Agents  

2011 NFL Combine Position Analysis
- QB | RB | WR | TE
- C | OT | OG | DE
- DT | ILB | OLB | S | CB
- 2012's Top Returning NFL Prospects - Offense

THE 2010 NFL DRAFT


2010 CFN Talent Rankings
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- 2nd Rounders
- 3rd Rounders
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- 5th Rounders
- 6th Rounders
- 7th Rounders 
- Top Free Agent Talents 

2010 CFN Position Rankings & Analysis

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs

2010 NFL Combine Quick Looks & Post-Combine Rankings

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs

2010 NFL Combine Results
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs 

2010 NFL Combine
- Offensive Winners  
- Offensive Losers 
- Defensive Winners 
- Defensive Losers

This Class Is … athletic. The world of hybrids kick in full force with plenty of very quick pass rushers who can get into the backfield in a hiccup. Can they all hold up against the run? There are several great disruptive forces, but there's still a question mark about the overall level of linebacker play.

The Best Value Pick Will Be … Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut
Most Underrated … Mason Foster, Washington
Most Overrated … Von Miller, Texas A&M
The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is … Mario Addison, Troy
 
1. Von Miller, Texas A&M 6-3, 246
He was really a defensive end in college and will have to prove he can be a full-time star in more space in a true outside linebacker role. While he won the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker, he didn’t always look natural in workouts making the transition; too many scouts were glossing over the concerns because they’re blinded by the athleticism and the pass rushing skills. Yes, he blazed through the short runs and put up great times, but he didn’t always appear to move instinctively well enough in outside linebacker football drills. Not a defensive end at an NFL level, he might be faster than anyone he’ll line up against, but he doesn’t have the bulk to work on every down up front. He might turn out to be a very, very expensive one-trick pony, but that one-trick could be dominant enough to send him to Honolulu on a regular basis. With his speed and burst, he should be an absolute terror at getting to the quarterback and being a game-changer. Is he going to be a top-shelf, all-around outside linebacker? Probably not, and it’s not always a sure-thing that some players can make the little position adjustments needed to shine – like former Wake Forest “sure-thing” Aaron Curry - but prospects with Miller’s talents are rare. There’s a good chance Miller can be a faster, lighter, more athletic Clay Matthews.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. Akeem Ayers, UCLA 6-3, 254
Known as an athletic, big outside linebacker, he didn’t do as well as hoped for at the Combine, but his game tape is still tremendous and still makes him the model outside linebacker. Fluid, he moves extremely well and has the quickness to go along with the size to be used as a pure pass rusher from time to time, but he’s a linebacker who can make things happen as a pass rusher. The problem is his lack of speed, and while he’s good enough to move well, he doesn’t have NFL wheels. How much will the offseason workouts matter? He was considered a Combine type of guy, but now he’ll have to be seen as a better football player than a workout warrior.
CFN Projection: Second Round

3. Bruce Carter, North Carolina 6-2, 241
There’s a chance Carter could be one of the biggest steals in the draft, but it’ll be a bit of a risky pick after suffering a torn ACL late last year. A tremendous athlete, he has 4.5 speed and special quickness – at least before the injury – with sideline-to-sideline range and tremendous playmaking ability. He’s not physical enough against the run and he’s not a blow-him-up type of hitter, but once he’s healthy he’ll fly all over the field and will chase down plays and be great at getting into the backfield. However, he has to get a fire lit under him and the motor has to be running on every play. The skills are there to be a dominant defender, but if he isn’t back to form after his injury, and if he doesn’t want to be an eat-nails linebacker who destroys people, he could be merely average. With his skills, though, the potential is there to be great.
CFN Projection: Second Round

4. Justin Houston, Georgia 6-3, 270
With excellent size and a great burst off the ball, he has the athleticism to work as an outside linebacker or could move to end if needed and be used as a 3-4 pure pass rusher. When he’s on and when he has the fire lit under him, he can dominate and take over a game. With phenomenal athleticism to go along with his bulk and size, he has peerless raw tools, but he has to use them on a more consistent basis. He disappeared way too often and wasn’t nearly as good as his final numbers. He’s the epitome of the pass rusher who comes up with one or two great plays a game and looks good on paper, but doesn’t play up to the stats. If he wants it and if he decides he wants to be great, he could be a destructive force, but he has to be more physical and has to take his game to another level. There’s a chance he could be a far better and bigger pro than he was a collegian.
CFN Projection: Second Round

5. Dontay Moch, Nevada 6-1, 248
He might not be all that big and he can’t be a defensive end, but he’s a peerless athlete. Von Miller might have a good burst and Bruce Carter, when healthy, might be as fluid as they come, but no one in this draft moves like Moch, who blew up a 42-inch vertical leap and ripped off a 4.46 at the Combine; he uses the wheels well as a tremendous closer on the quarterback. He’s a willing run stopper who’ll try to hold up against the run, but his money will be made as a playmaker into the backfield. Now he needs to be more creative and has to figure out how to hone his craft after spending his career destroying WAC opponents by simply being faster and more athletic. Get a good block on him and he’ll stay hit, but he’ll spend most of his time flying around blockers.
CFN Projection: Third Round

6. Nate Irving, NC State (ILB) 6-1, 240
On his way to becoming a Butkus Award-level, he suffered several major injuries after falling asleep at the wheel and getting into a bad car accident. He managed to come back to become an ultra-productive leader and playmaker for the NC State defense, and he has gotten stronger from the adversity. A pure football player who acts the part and has the fire needed to be a top run stopper, but he’s not the surest of tacklers and he doesn’t have the elite athleticism to be an NFL pass rusher. While he’s versatile enough to play inside or out, he’s a big of a tweener without the makeup to be a middle linebacker and lacking the wheels to fly into the backfield from the outside.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

7. Mason Foster, Washington 6-1, 245
While he might not have all the tools and he might not be a special athlete in any way, the guy is a nails-eating baller who never, ever misses a tackle. One of the nation’s most underappreciated players, he was ultra-productive with 163 tackles last year with 14 tackles for loss, and he can be a very, very good starter at the next level if he has a good group around him. While he doesn’t have the raw tools and he isn’t going to do much pass rushing from the outside, he’ll make himself into a producer.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

8. Ross Homan, Ohio State 6-1, 240
A normal hard-nosed, athletic Buckeye linebacker with good smarts and nice workout numbers. A pure football player, he’s always in the right position and he’s solid in pass protection when he doesn’t have to cover a large area. While he has decent size, it’s a fake weight bulking up ten pounds in a hurry this offseason, and now he’s more of a middle linebacker but without the durability to hold up for the job. While he’ll get from Point A to Point B, he’s not going to cut on a dime and he’ll get outjuked at times. He’s going to be a good pro, but there’s a limit on whether or not he can be a special one.
CFN Projection: Third Round

9. K.J. Wright, Mississippi State 6-3, 246
With great size and good tackling ability, he’s very smart and he works his tail off to make things happen. Unlike most of the outside linebackers in this draft, he’s decent in pass coverage and is better at staying with receivers than his raw tools might suggest. He’s not an athlete, he’s not a huge hitter, and he’s not all that fast, but even though there’s a hard ceiling on what he can do he can and can be a good, solid run stopper on his drive and his motor. An inside linebacker working on the outside, he’s a strongside linebacker only. He won’t be special, but he should be a decent starter.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

10. Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma (DE) 6-3, 262
With excellent size and a great ability to get into the backfield, he was an elite pass rusher at the collegiate level and was tremendously productive on a consistent basis over three years. His future could be as a 4-3 defensive end and a possible pass rushing specialist, but he’s a good enough all-around football player who doesn’t take too many wasted steps and makes up for his shortcomings by always being in the right spot. The problem is his painful lack of speed and athleticism, registering a jaw-dropping 5.16 in the 40, and his other Combine numbers were awful. There’s a limit on what he can do and what he can become, but he was so productive at such a high level that he’s worth a long look at a starting spot somewhere.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

- 2011 NFL Outside Linebacker Rankings - No. 11 - 25