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Steelers Draft Prospects: Analyzing the Outside Linebackers

copyright Rivertiger Arts 2015 - Football Player Prospect
With less than 2 months before the 2015 NFL Draft the Steelers will have some decision to make before the start of the league’s calendar year. These decisions will impact which way the Steelers will choose to pick during the draft. With the impending free agency of Jason Worilds, Arthur Moats and James Harrison, the position seems to be a spot were depth will likely be added. Jarvis Jones is the only signed outside linebacker currently on the active roster to play a snap with Pittsburgh.

Below is an evaluation of the top outside linebackers in this year’s draft class with my thoughts on who the Steelers will target. With so many teams now employing the 3-4 alignment it’s tougher to target ‘tweeners’ who were too small to play defensive end and too big to play outside linebacker. In the past Pittsburgh was very good at targeting college defensive ends and teaching them the nuisances of the outside linebacker position. Jason Gildon, LaMarr Woodley and Joey Porter come to mind. This position is one of the deeper positions in this draft.  Here is my list of potential Steelers draft prospects they may want to target.
1. Shane Ray 6-3, 245 Jr. Missouri- Consensus all American and the SEC Defensive player of the year. Extremely fast can run a 4.4 in the 40. Ray has insane athletic ability. Broke Aldon Smith’s Missouri single sack record with 13.5. Needs to make better decisions can be rattled. He has to be better at controlling his emotions. He has a Great first step. The best edge rusher in the draft a top 7 pick.

 
2. Randy Gregory 6-6, 245 Jr. Nebraska– Gregory played defensive end at Nebraska and is projected to switch to the Outside. Very Tall with the body structure to add weight and get stronger. Very raw and a likely top 10 pick. Tough in run support and can be very explosive. He can be exploited in the pass game if ask to drop into coverage a lot. Has had some injury concerns which may cause him to fall some but not that far.

 
3. Dante Fowler Jr. 6-2, 261 Jr. Florida-3-4 outside linebacker will most likely be used on the strong side. Can set the edge well. Can be dominant at times. Will be a great player in the right system. Played in a proven conference in the SEC. Reminds me a lot of Khalil Mack who was drafted by the Raiders. Can be fool and is overly aggressive at times but very versatile. Florida lined him up all over the field. I think he’s gone by the early teens.

 
4. Alvin Bud Dupree 6-4, 267 Sr. Kentucky-has a great work ethic. Was voted team captain. Displays good leadership. He could be very good if he gets good coaching at this point more of a pass rusher. He has a basketball background. Had a 2nd round grade until a good senior season pushed him into the 1st round. A perfect pick for a 3-4 team could very well be the pick for The Steelers if he can make it passed The Saints.

 
5. Vic Beasley 6-2, 235 Sr. Clemson– A bit small. More of a 4-3 outside backer to me. Scouts will be very intrigued by his ability. I think he’s definitely a first round pick just not sure where he will go. He had 13 sacks and 23 tackles for losses. At this point he wins with speed and uncanny athletic ability. I’m not sure how that will transition in the pro game where he will have to win with more than speed. He would be a great fit for a team like Seattle but no way will he make it that far. Has a ton of ability.

 
6. Shaq Thompson 6-2, 231 Jr. Washington– Made lots of play in Washington. I heard rumblings that he might be converted to safety. Can play inside and outside very versatile. Also played some running back at Washington. A Big time playmaker. He scored 4 defensive touchdowns in 2014. Great for a team that can employ a hybrid scheme. Some team will be in love with his playmaking ability. Might not make it out the first round. I have a 2nd round grade on him. Needs to get bigger. A bit small and call be easily blocked at times. Strictly a 4-3 guy.

 
7. Eli Harold 6-4, 235 Jr. Virginia-Very experienced in a 3-4 system. Played a lot in Virginia 24 starts in the last 2 years. Good player but a coordinator might have to be somewhat patience with him early on. Could be a situational player at first. He hasn’t reached his full potential. Body frame can add more weight. Not great in space and will need some time to develop.Mid 2nd round grade.

 
8. Owamagbe Odighizuma 6-4, 266 Sr. UCLA– A great name. Had a Great week down at the senior bowl. Helped his stock a lot. Long arms seal the edge good very powerful. Had 2 surgeries which might be a red flag. Non stop Motor.

 
9. Lorenzo Mauldin 6-4, 256 Sr. Louisville– Has great character. He has had a tough childhood and a remarkable story. Grew up in a foster home both of his biological parents are in jail. Had 9.5 sacks 2nd team all-acc. always around the ball. Has had lots of nagging injuries. Lorenzo could be around in the 3rd round for Pittsburgh.

 

In closing, this year’s draft class has some very interesting talent at the outside linebacker position. With teams placing a bigger importance on pass-rushing and pressure, I’m sure all of these guys will be off the board by the third round. Some NFL team will reach and make a surprise choice that will cause somebody to drop. It occurs every draft, so it’s always tough to predict. I’m sure the Steelers will pick a player from this talent pool.

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  1. Pingback: ACROSS ENEMY LINES: Steelers Draft Prospects: Analyzing the Outside Linebackers | The Barking Dawg | Cleveland Browns Blog

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