Rankings and quick lookaheads of all the outside linebacker prospects invited to the 2019 NFL Combine.
2019 NFL Outside Linebacker Combine Workout: Sunday, March 3
Here we go with the 2019 NFL Combine, with all the breakdowns and analysis of every positive and negative for all of the top prospects. This isn’t that hard. Just simplify it – who can play football well enough to make an impact at the next level?
The bigger breakdowns will come before the NFL Draft, but for now – again, from the college perspective – here are the pre-combine rankings for all of the outside linebackers invited to the big workout.
Before getting into the top five breakdown, here’s a ranking of the best of the rest.
2019 Pre-NFL Combine Outside Linebacker Best of the Rest Rankings
Number in parentheses is the projected round drafted pre-NFL Combine.
21. Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic 6-2, 231 (7 FA)
Can he return from a torn up knee that cost him the second half of the season? When he’s healthy, he’s a big tackler and disruptive force, but he’s a free agent flier until his knee works.
20. Nate Hall, Northwestern 6-2, 231 (6)
He was a nice all-around college linebacker who did a little of everything right for his entire career, but there’s no wow to his game as a next-level prospect. He’s a try-hard type who might make it on special teams.
19. Blake Cashman, Minnesota 6-1, 226 (7 FA)
Too small, takes a beating, and suffered the consequences with banged up shoulders. He’s a try-hard former walk-on who’ll run through a wall, but he’s missing the tools. He’ll have to be a special teamer.
18. Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas 6-0, 221 (7 FA)
A good volume tackler with 321 stops in his four years, he’s tough as nails and he’ll get in on everything. However, he’s way too small, and he’s purely a special teamer to start without a true NFL spot. Even so, the potential is there to get drafted as a top athlete, and then a D will figure out what to do with him.
17. Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin 6-4, 229 (7 FA)
Yeah, he’s nothing more than a special teamer out of the gate, but despite his lack of size, he could rise up and turn into a dangerous pass rushing specialist with a few key chances.
16. Gary Johnson, Texas 6-0, 216 (7 FA)
He turned into a fantastic all-around defender and leader coming from the JUCO ranks, growing into more of a pass rusher last season to go along with his 90 stops. The tweener size, though, will make him a specialist on the outside after working on the inside under Tom Herman.
15. Jordan Jones, Kentucky 6-1, 220 (7 FA)
Size, size, size. He’s barely at 220 pounds and he’ll likely play more at 215. He’s a tough tackler who’s smooth as glass moving to the ball, but he’s just not big enough to be a regular starter.
14. Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame 6-2, 235 (5)
A good tackler who’ll blast through a wall to make a tackle, he’s not quite an inside linebacker at the next level, and he’s not athletic enough to find a regular spot on the outside. He’ll be drafted, though, as a potential backup in several areas.
13. Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii 6-3, 236 (7 FA)
A tackling machine who finished his career with 390 tackles with 41 tackles for loss, he might not have the tools and the speed, but he’ll hit and produce no matter where he plays in a linebacking corps. However, he has to prove he’s okay after suffering a late season shoulder injury.
12. Cody Barton, Utah 6-2, 227 (7 FA)
He’s undersized, but he plays with his hair on fire. There’s a toughness to his game to go along with the speed to find a spot on the field. He’s a true tweener who’ll make a roster on special teams alone.
11. Otaro Alaka, Texas A&M 6-3, 240 (7 FA)
Absolutely looks the part, absolutely has the right tools, and is absolutely worth a long look for a variety of roles. He’s not really an NFL inside linebacker, though, and will have to be developed into a tweener pass rusher on the outside. He’ll be worth the late pick.
10. Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin 6-2, 237 (5)
A nice all-around defender over the last three seasons, he was steady as a rock and excellent at getting into the backfield on a regular basis. The tools aren’t quite there, but he’s a max effort defender who’ll make a team as a key reserve at either outside spot.
9. David Long, West Virginia 5-11, 221 (5)
A disruptive force who’s great at getting into the backfield as well as making the big stop, he overcomes his lack of raw bulk by working his way behind the line and always getting around the ball. His lack of size will be too much of a problem for some, but his all-around game, quickness and production are enough to get him to push for a potential weakside starting spot.
8. Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington 6-0, 219 (4)
He’s not big enough. He’s missing the power, the bulk, and the ability to avoid getting wiped off the field by any NFL offensive lineman. However, he’s an elite tackling machine who can fill in a hybrid role to take a whole slew of stops. All he did was make 176 tackles last season – he can play.
7. Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State 6-2, 230 (3)
In a draft loaded with undersized ballers who have to figure out a place to play, Hanks breaks the mold with excellent size to go along with enough athleticism to be tried out in a few different spots. He needs some coaching and work to play up to his tools, but unlike others, there actually is something to work with.
6. Chase Hansen, Utah 6-3, 227 (4)
A good enough specialist to be tried out at several spots on a defense, he’ll live behind the line if he’s given the chance. He came up with 114 tackles and 22 tackles for loss in his senior season, with the quickness and want-to to translate into a passing down playmaker at the next level.