Let me start off by saying, this is my personal #1 need for the team in the draft. It's really a toss-up between this position and the CB position. What's gonna make this a tough decision, is who is going to be available when we get to pick at #27.There are a few CBs I would be happy to grab in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, so if one of these 1st round caliber guys falls, I think we should jump all over one.
My 1st round prospects...
1. Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Height: 6-3. Weight: 245.
Projected 40 Time: 4.69.
Projected Round (2014): Top-20 pick. by Walter Football.
Draft Scout Has him as the #1 OLB and a Top Ten Pick.
In other words, this one is probably gone way before we get to pick.
2/8/14: The fast and strong Mack is a downhill defender who makes lots of plays in the backfield. He is adept at shedding blocks with the speed and athleticism to be an edge-rusher in the NFL. Mack would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
The senior dominated Ohio State to open this season. Mack had nine tackles with 2.5 sacks versus the Buckeyes, plus an interception that he returned 45 yards for a touchdown. Mack notched a sack, a pass batted and six tackles versus Western Michigan. Early in the season, he recorded eight tackles and a sack against Connecticut.
In the regular-season finale against Bowling Green, Mack had 12 tackles with 2.5 tackles for a loss. He exploded against Miami of Ohio for three forced fumbles, three sacks and eight tackles. Mack recorded 10 tackles, an interception and a sack taking on Kent State. He notched a sack, a pass batted, an interception and three tackles against Massachusetts.
Mack closed out 2013 with 10.5 sacks, 100 tackles, five forced fumbles, seven passes broken up, three interceptions and 19 tackles for a loss.
A pass rushing LBer, with great coverage skills. Just what we need.
2. Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Height: 6-4. Weight: 248.
Projected 40 Time: 4.65.
Walter Football has this one as a Top-10 Pick.
Draft Scout has him as the #2 OLB.
2/8/14: In 2013, Barr totaled 65 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, five forced fumbles and a pass batted. He showed his amazing burst off the snap and pass-rushing ability with steady pressure all season.
In his penultimate game for the Bruins, he helped beat rival USC with five tackles, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two sacks. Prior to that, Barr had seven tackles with a 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack against Arizona State. His numbers were solid, but the Sun Devils did a pretty good job of keeping him from making game-changing plays.
Barr stepped up with a big game against Oregon, recording four tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. A week before taking on the Ducks, the senior had eight tackles with a tackle for a loss against Stanford. He recorded three tackles and sack versus California. Barr notched two sacks, five tackles and three tackles for a loss against Utah. He picked up three tackles and a sack versus New Mexico State in the contest before that. His performance against Nebraska was monstrous as he collected forced three fumbles, 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.
So the chance of either of these guy being there are slim to none at the 27th pick, and while I don't normally condone trading up, these two sure are tempting. Fortunately there are some QB needy teams picking early, so we'll see.
3. Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU
Height: 6-3. Weight: 244.
Projected 40 Time: 4.65.
Walter Football has him as a 2-3 Round Pick.
Draft Scout has him rated 1st or 2nd Round. And their #4 OLB.
The LBer they have rated above Noy, would be more suited to a 4-3 Will, or Weakside LBer.
This is one we might have a shot at.
2/8/14: Even though it was a moderately disappointing season, Van Noy made a lot of impact plays for BYU in 2013. He recorded 68 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, seven passes batted and two interceptions. Teams also game planned for Van Noy to go away from him.
Against Wisconsin, Van Noy had eight tackles with two tackles for a loss and an interception. He recorded six tackles and three sacks versus Georgia Tech. The senior picked off a pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown against Utah State. A week earlier against Middle Tennessee on a tackle for a loss, Van Noy knifed through the line to tackle the running back in the end zone for a safety.
Van Noy had a big impact against Texas, recording eight tackles with a sack. He also had a ton of other pressures and hits on the quarterback. In Week 1 versus Virginia, Van Noy racked up four tackles with two tackles for a loss. He also caused an interception while tackling the quarterback.
8/14/13: Van Noy is extremely explosive coming off the edge. He is a solid run-defender, but really excels in pass defense. Van Noy is a good athlete who drops into coverage well, yet he is still a phenomenal blitzer.
Now we are getting to some later round guys, unless their stock improves at the combine and/or Pro Days.
4. Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn
Height: 6-2. Weight: 243.
Projected 40 Time: 4.60.
Projected Round (2014): 2-3. Walter FootBall.
2/8/14: Ford was Auburn's best edge rusher in the Tigers' fast front seven. He ended 2013 with 29 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Ford has excellent speed off the edge with moves to get away from blockers. In the National Championship, the senior dominated Florida State's right tackle. He missed the first two games of the season.
While Ford is very explosive off the edge, he isn't big enough to remain at defensive end in the NFL. Ford will have to move to outside linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, he would have to play as a linebacker who rushes off the edge in passing situations, similar to Von Miller in Denver. Ford projects best as an edge rusher for a 3-4 defense.
5.Carl Bradford*, OLB, Arizona State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 243.
Projected 40 Time: 4.68.
Projected Round (2014): 2-3. Walter Football.
2/8/14: Bradford played really well in 2013. He has a unique skill set with toughness as a run-defender and pass-rushing ability.
Bradford was impressive against Notre Dame with a lot of disruption. He was superb against Washington State with forced fumbles and a sack. The junior was suspended against Oregon State. Bradford had 61 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes broken up, one interception and three forced fumbles in 2013. He could be a nice weapon in a 3-4 defense who plays on the inside and outside. Bradford would fit best as a Sam (strongside) linebacker in a 4-3, but he could also be trained on the inside.
6. Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
Height: 6-3. Weight: 252.
Projected 40 Time: 4.71. 2nd to 3rd. Walter Football.
2/8/14: In 2013, Attaochu collected 45 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and 12.5 sacks. He beat North Carolina left tackle James Hurst for one of those sacks. Attaochu had big games against Clemson and Georgia. He is a good speed rusher, but he'll most likely have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL. Attaochu played well at the Senior Bowl.
7. Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville
Height: 6-3. Weight: 252.
Projected 40 Time: 4.70.
2/8/14: The Cardinals had a tough defense in 2013, and Smith was the leader of the unit. He was the American Conference Defensive Player of the Year as he finished the season with 14.5 sacks for Louisville. Smith also had 42 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and three passes broken up. The senior's sack total put him second in the nation behind only Stanford's Trent Murphy. Smith had multi-sack games against Florida International, Rutgers, South Florida, Connecticut and Miami. He then held his own at the Senior Bowl.
There are some others rated lower that I'm not going to list, other than Michael Sam, whose name rings a bell for some reason.
Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri
Height: 6-1. Weight: 260.
Projected 40 Time: 4.71.
Projected Round (2014): 3-5.
Just figured I'd share a little about Sam, since he is in the news so much as of late...
2/8/14: Sam was a breakout performer for Missouri in 2013 with 11.5 sacks. He also recorded 48 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and two passes broken up. Sam returned a fumble for a touchdown in the Tigers' upset win over Georgia. He dominated with three-sack games against Arkansas State, Vanderbilt and Florida. Sam was shut down by Tennessee's tough offensive line, and Auburn ran over him in the SEC Championship. He should move to outside linebacker in the NFL, but could be a situational defensive end in obvious passing downs. Sam had a mixed week at the Senior Bowl.
That's all I have right now, so let me know what you think, or put forth you own thoughts on some candidates you feel I left out. Remember I'm looking at OLB, not lighter guys more suited to ILB or to 4-3 Defenses.