The Square Pigeon’s 2019 NFL Draft Coverage – Outside Linebacker
Top 5 Outside Linebackers
This is not a strong position in this draft.
None of these guys will make my top 50 list.
I’d expect none of them to come off the board until late in the second round.
Even so, the two guys on the top of the list have serious potential to develop into quality NFL linebackers.
1) Vosean Joseph Florida
Vosean Joseph led the Florida Gators in tackles as a junior this year. Joseph hopes his 93 tackles and 4 sacks got him on teams’ radar. He also managed to knock away five passes. There are possibly some character issues as the team suspended him from a game, and he was ejected during Florida’s game against Kentucky this year.
In the NFL, Joseph’s biggest asset comes from his ability as a pass defender. His speed and coverage skills will allow him to make an immediate impact as a nickel linebacker. He was also a fairly good pass rusher in college despite not being asked to do it that often.
While he has skills against the pass, he isn’t good against the run. He led the Gators in tackles, but most were assisted tackles (40 solos and 53 assisted). Runners elude him in the open field. Plus, he is undersized which causes him to get blocked out of many of the plays.
2) Emeke Egbule Houston
I like Emeke Egbule more than anyone else that I have seen, but he is might end up as the best OLB in this class. Egbule’s production was solid at Houston with 69 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, five passes defended, and two forced fumbles.
The first thing that popped off the screen when watching Egbule was how fluid he was for a linebacker. There is little stiffness in his hips when he turns to cover. His coverage skills are so good, he lined up against wide receivers. Then, I loved that he fit blockers how hard as they were hitting him.
Despite his hitting power against blockers, he isn’t much of a tackler. Poor technique causes too many misses. He is a raw athletic talent that will need time to improve before he can make consistent contributions for his team; however, he should be a special teams standout right out of the gates.
3) David Long Jr West Virginia
West Virginia is lost a great college player when David Long Jr. decided to enter the draft. Long was named the Defensive Player of the Year for the Big 12 after he accumulated 111 tackles and seven sacks. He has also named a second-team All-American.
Long quickly reads and reacts to the play which drastically helps his ability to stop the run. This initial read has also led to an incredible number of tackles for a loss. His quick readability and decisive action make him a special talent.
Even though he put up seven sacks this year, I think he will struggle as a pass rusher in the NFL. Blockers generally have a size advantage given the fact that Long is 5’11” and only 227 pounds. He also can get caught over-committing on plays.
4) Terrill Hanks New Mexico State
Production was clearly not an issue for Terrill Hanks during his senior year. Hanks racked up over 100 tackles in only nine games. This made three consecutive seasons with over 100 tackles for Hanks. He clearly had a nose for the ball.
Nothing that Hanks does leaps off the screen, but he doesn’t do anything terrible either. He is painfully average with everything that he does. He is an okay tackler, and he gets into a good position in zone coverage. While he didn’t manage to get many sacks, he is a decent blitzer and puts pressure on the quarterback.
The combine did little to help Hanks. He put up a dreadful 4.98 40 which didn’t help since the film shows how stiff of a runner he is. His lateral movement is also extremely poor. He shined on special teams last season with New Mexico State and that may be the only way he makes a roster in the NFL.
5) Drue Tranquill Notre Dame
Drue Tranquill has played pretty good for the Irish when he can stay healthy. Tranquill tore both ACLs which lost him significant play time. His leadership ability was never in question as he has been a captain for Notre Dame the past two seasons.
Tranquill has great range thanks to his to his speed. As a former defensive back, you expect not only the speed but the pass coverage. Making his name in the NFL will revolve around his ability to cover running backs and tight ends.
His limited size makes it easy for him to be taken out of the play. He struggles to get off blocks. Injuries concerns also will make his stock drop. With two torn ACLs, several teams probably will have him off their board already.