Rush Linebacker Rankings

Steve O Speak

These rankings are based on how a player projects as a rush linebacker in the 3-4 defense.  Players like Brandon Graham, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Ricky Sapp were covered in the defensive end rankings.

1. Jerry Hughes- Hughes is the best pure rush linebacker in this draft. His speed and athleticism is unmatched in this class. While I think he is a bad fit as a DE or 4-3 OLB, Hughes should be a dominate pass rusher coming from the 3-4. As good as Hughes is, I don’t think he will be drafted in the top 20, since he comes from TCU and didn’t face the same competition as some of the other rush linebackers.

2. Sergio Kindle- Kindle is widely considered the better player than Hughes and deservedly so since he could also fit in with some teams as a defensive end. Kindle for me has always been a bit overrated, since I consider him a boom or bust player. The talent is there, but it doesn’t always show through during gameday. Kindle also didn’t have great off-season workouts, which concerns me regrading his speed and agility.

3. Thaddeus Gibson– Gibson was a bit of a surprise when he declared back in January, but has been fairly impressive this off-season. Overall I think he will be drafted in the 3rd or 4th round, but end up being a steal of this draft. He is still a bit raw so he will likely need to be a situational pass rusher at the start of his career, but should impress with his natural athletic talents.

4. Koa Misi- Misi has been steadily moving up draft boards since his impressive Senior Bowl performance. He should solidly be in the 3rd round range now, and displays advanced pass rushing skills. Athletically he doesn’t have the same skill set as some of the other rush linebackers, but makes up for it with a high level of football smarts.

5. Eric Norwood- A lot of people have soured on Norwood this season, but he had a pretty good senior campaign, leaving me to wonder what the hang up on him is. Norwood showed good speed at the combine, and while he was below average in strength, he should be a good pass rusher at the next level. Norwood always seemed to have a nose for the ball, and put himself in sound position to make a play. Norwood always showed good pursuit angles as well, and flashes enough all-around ability to become a top-notch rush linebacker.

6. Arthur Moats– Moats has been on NFL team’s radar as a late round pick after he dominated Division 1-AA competition the past few years at JMU. A defensive end by trade, the question remained whether he could transition to OLB. Moats answered a number of those questions with a stellar combine. He has firmly moved his way up from round 6-7, to possibly as high as the 4th round. Moats could end up being a great small school sleeper in this draft.

7. Jason Worilds- Worilds was another surprising junior to declare for the NFL draft. He was coming off a weak junior campaign, but always had the talent to be a starter at the next level. While the talent is there I seriously wonder if Worilds will ever reach it. He’s had a bit of an up and down off-season, culminating with an impressive Pro Day. While his workout numbers might boost him up a round or two, I don’t think he is better than a late 4th round prospect.

8. Cameron Sheffield- Sheffield has not had the best off-season, particularly when it comes to his workout numbers, but still remains a solid mid-round prospect. While the numbers give pause, on the field Sheffield always proved to be a playmaker. While he may never be a star, he should be a solid player in the NFL.

9. George Selvie- Selvie has had a disastrous year this past season, in terms of his draft stock. A year ago Selvie was a lock Top-50 prospect (if not a sure-fire first rounder) now he may be lucky to be selected in the top 150 picks. A bad senior campaign, plus a horrible combine has left Selvie in the 5th round range.

10. O’Brien Schofield- Schofield won’t be the 10th rush linebacker drafted, and in fact might not hear his name called until the 7th round, but he has immense potential. Schofield was having a great off-season until he tore his ACL at Senior Bowl practice. At the very least any team taking Schofield will have to put him on the PUP list and may even have to resort to placing him on injured reserve. When he does return to action Schofield has immense potential and could end up being a great late round steal in this draft.

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