Underrated Linebackers (Sleepers/Gems)


By Nolan Kuzmick, Ourlads’ Draft Analyst

Jeremiah Attaochu - Georgia Tech

Jeremiah Attaochu- Georgia Tech, DE/OLB, Sr: Elite edge rusher that has an explosive burst at the snap. Plays low as he dips under outside and uses his speed to beat blockers to the corner. Gets his inside leg past the lineman and plants his outside leg at the corner to turn sharply to the QB. Shows combative hands and displays a solid rip move. Once he has defeated his blocker he lunges at the QB wrapping up the sack. Very disruptive of the pocket, hurrying the play when he doesn’t get there in time for the sack. Uses his arms to keep separation against blockers and stuff them at the line against the run and works well down the line. Drops into coverage with the speed and athleticism to play man. Fits best at DE where he can improve his handwork and add strength to defend the run. If moved to linebacker he will need to fine tune as he isn’t experienced there, but he is completely capable of being coached into a starter at either position. Projected 2nd round pick, worthy of a 1st round choice

Chris Borland- Wisconsin ILB/OLB, Sr: Explosive out of his stance, attacks the line. Dodges blockers with a side step, shove/stiff arm and swim move. Finds the lane to the backfield or ballcarrier and bursts through, diving at the ballcarrier.  Fills the hole on short yardage and has lots of power through his hips to stop the runner for no gain on 3rd/4th and short or the goal line. Makes the read fast and is relentless to make the play, has made the tackle on his 2nd attempt numerous times. Goes for the strip on his tackles and has a knack for causing the turnover. Uses smart pursuit angles and chases down the ball, works really well across the field to runs on the opposite side. Doesn’t have the ideal size teams look for, sometimes when blockers are able to engage he has trouble releasing. Contacts blockers shoulder pads before they get to him with a strong punch, keeping them away. Fits well as the ILB, but looks like he can play OLB in a 4-3 as well. Showed solid ability on special teams at the Senior Bowl and tight man coverage, leaving his feet to dive in front of the route and knock the ball out. If Borland were a few inches taller he would be a 1st round pick. Projected 3rd round, good value in the 2nd round

Kevin Pierre-Louis–Boston College, OLB/S, Sr: Hustle, speed, high-motor, play-maker. Flies around the field and lays a hit, has a good football IQ. When rushing off the edge, has a powerful initial impact on blockers throwing them out of their stance and allowing him to get past. Cover linebacker that can turn and drop coverage and defend against short to intermediate routes. Reads the throw and can make the play on the ball, with the ball in his hands he has the ability to take it all the way. Used as an inline blocker on punts, gets out of engagement and downfield fast, often the first guy down to make the tackle. Shows high effort from whistle to whistle, after blitzes he has turned and chased down receivers from behind, showing his speed and continued pursuit. Leaves his feet to make the play, sure wrap-up tackler down low. Keeps contain, but has the speed to slash down inside and make the play. Would like to see him work on getting off blocks with technique and add some weight.  Lots of potential here, this guy will be a starter in the NFL. Projected 5th round, worthy of a 3rd round choice

Tariq Edwards- Virginia Tech, OLB, rSr: Overlooked after an injured Junior season, bounced back for a solid Senior year to match his Sophomore season. Has lined up at ILB, on the edge, outside man up on WRs and has performed well at each spot. A do-it-all defender that has the size and speed to match his natural game play. Sticky pass coverage on RBs and TEs, using his long gets arms to break up the pass. Closes hard when the ball is arriving and breaks passes up with high impact. Has played zone out in the flat and has ran man down the field. Has shown his ball skills, batting balls out of the air and diving to make interceptions. Hurries the QB and records sacks regularly when rushing. Flows well, has good hip movement, long precise strides, energy, speed and power, one of the top LB steals. Projected FA, worthy of a 4th rounder

Brock Coyle- Montana, ILB/OLB, Sr: Highly productive backer that led his team in tackles for back to back seasons, has a nose for the ball. Uses quick hands to work off blocks, getting his hands on the breast plate of the lineman and transitioning into a quick swim to get past them. Uses a strong rip move that shows his power to get to the play. Has a deep drop in coverage, shows his athleticism to back-peddle, turn and run and stick with receivers. Has a high vertical to swat the ball out of the air or come down with it. Has smooth lateral movement and shows awareness to find the lanes to the ball. Projected 7th round, worthy of a 5th round pick

Trashaun Nixon- New Mexico State, OLB, Sr: Versatile prospect that has experience playing Sam and Will. Switched to Will midway through the season and fit better off the line in the open space. An athletic prospect that has the instinct of a linebacker and the athleticism of a safety. Drops into coverage, hips turn well, has the speed to run with his man and the vertical to get up and bring the ball down or knock it out of the air. In zone, closes fast on the catch and makes a sure tackle. When the QB handles the ball too long or tries to run he closes fast to disrupt the play. Makes wrap up tackles, and has the strength to make big hits. Has direct pursuit angles and eludes blockers. Could improve his ability using hands to keep separation from blockers and get off blocks. Looks like a solid special teams player that has a fit as a weak side 4-3 OLB, his ability in the passing game separates him from others. Projected FA, worthy of a 6th round choice

Eddie Lackey- Baylor, OLB, Sr: Highly energetic player that flies around the field making plays, always around the ball. Doesn’t have the size you look for in this position, but makes up for that with his awareness and hustle. His feet never stop moving, often keeping his feet jumping until he makes his read and pursues the play. He recognizes the play quickly and attacks the line to stop the run. His size has limited his ability to get off blocks effectively, but most of the time he reads the play fast enough and hustles to get to the play before linemen tangle him up. He is a hitter that plays like he enjoys contact, running past his own players to make the tackle. Shows a nice drop, reads the QB well in zone, constantly positioning to maintain assignment. Plays sneaky in the zone and QBs have overlooked him allowing him to pull up and make the pick. Will be a very special special-teamer and can provide OLB depth, possibly safety consideration. Projected FA, worthy of a 6th round choice

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