Shane Ray*, OLB/DE, Missouri
Height: 6-3. Weight: 245. Projected 40 Time: 4.84. Projected Round (2015): Top-16. 1/31/15: Ray recorded 14.5 sacks, 65 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles this year. He had multi-sack games against Toledo, Central Florida, Kentucky and South Carolina.
Ray has demonstrated a real burst off the snap with the agility to turn the corner. He needs to get stronger for the ground game, but he has speed-rushing skills and edge-rush athleticism. Against the run, Ray does well in pursuit, but he can have problems when teams run straight at him. Ray lacks length, but he has good pass-rushing moves and is extremely fast off the snap.
8/23/14: Ray contributed to Missouri's fierce pass rush during the 2013 season. While he didn't have as big of an impact as Kony Ealy, Michael Sam or Markus Golden, Ray made some plays for the Tigers in their rotation. He had 39 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for the year. With Ealy and Sam in the NFL, Ray should see more opportunities. He needs to add weight for the next level.
Personal: Son of Wendell Ray and Sebrina Johnson.
Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
Height: 6-3. Weight: 235. Projected 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2015): 1-2. 1/31/15: Beasley gave NFL evaluators further evidencein 2014 that he has to move to outside linebacker and isn't large enough to get any consideration as a defensive end outside of obvious passing situations. However, the senior is strong for his size, so once he moves to outside linebacker he should be a well-rounded player. Beasley clearly is fast and athletic enough to play linebacker. He has natural pass-rushing skills and is a terror in the backfield.
Beasley totaled 12 sacks, 33 tackles, 21.5 tackles for a loss, three passes batted and three forced fumbles in 2014. He was very consistent with sacks, recording them in the vast majority of games, including a string of six straight outings. In November, Beasley was banged up with a hand and shoulder injury that held him back. He closed out the regular season versus South Carolina with five tackles, two sacks, another tackle for a loss and a forced fumble. He overwhelmed left tackle Corey Robinson and guard A.J. Cann. Beasley totaled three tackles, a pass batted and two sacks against Florida State. After a quiet first quarter, he ate up left tackle Cameron Erving. Overall, that tape will help Beasley in his bid to be a first-round pick.
8/23/14: Beasley was a tremendous pass-rusher for Clemson in 2013 with 13 sacks. He also picked up 23 tackles for a loss, 41 tackles, six passes batted, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. After dominating the early part of 2013, Beasley was clamped down by Florida State as the Seminoles blew out Clemson. To close out the season, Beasley handled South Carolina left tackle Corey Williams with two sacks against the Gamecocks and gave Ohio State a lot of problems in Clemson's bowl win.
Beasley had a breakout 2012 season with eight sacks, but the sophomore was only a situational pass-rusher with 14 total tackles on the year. Beasley must add weight to play defensive end in the NFL.
Personal: Majoring in sociology. His father played at Auburn and is a high school coach.
Eric Kendricks, OLB/ILB, UCLA
Height: 6-0. Weight: 230. Projected 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2015): 1-2. 1/31/15: Kendricks amassed 149 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two passes broken up, three interceptions and one forced fumble in 2014. The senior is a sideline-to-sideline run-defender who covers a ton of ground. He also is an asset in pass coverage as he guards some receivers well in man coverage and does very well in zone. In the NFL, Kendricks should be a three-down starter. He backed out on the Senior Bowl, and how he handled it rubbed some the wrong way.
The senior was all over the field against Virginia to open 2014. The big plays he made led to 14 points from the Bruins' defense. Kendricks stripped a receiver of the ball deep in UCLA territory, and a teammate scooped up the fumble to return it for a touchdown. While the quarterback was flooded with defenders on the next drive, Kendricks had tight coverage on the running back and was able to undercut the throw to pick it off and run 37 yards to take it to the house. Kendricks totaled 16 tackles, two passes broken up, the forced fumble and the interception against Virginia. He also was impressive against Texas (11 tackles), Arizona State (10 tackles), Washington (13 tackles), USC (14 tackles, 1 INT) and Stanford (11 tackles).
8/23/14: Kendricks played well in 2013 with 105 tackles, four tackles for a loss and an interception. He was third in the Pac-12 in tackles. Kendricks is an instinctive defender who can defend sideline-to-sideline.
Kendricks was a backup until a breakout 2012 season in which he led the Pac-12 in tackles. Kendricks had 149 tackles with six tackles for a loss, two sacks, four passes broken up, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick. His instincts were excellent as he did a great job of reading and reacting. Thanks to a disruptive defensive line and star outside linebacker Anthony Barr, Kendricks was able to make plays off of them.
Kendricks is getting good preparation from a UCLA coaching staff under Jim Mora, Jr. that has a lot of pro experience. While Kendricks plays middle linebacker for the Bruins, he would have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL if he can't add weight.
Personal: Economics major. Son of Marv Kendricks and Yvonne Thagon. Eric Kendricks is the younger brother of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks, a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of California.
Benardrick McKinney*, OLB/ILB, Mississippi State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 249. Projected 40 Time: 4.62. Projected Round (2015): 1-2. 1/31/15: McKinney had 71 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and four passes broken up in 2014. One of those sacks came when he beat Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi off the edge. McKinney was a big-time presence in the Bulldogs' defense and displayed the ability to be a three-down starter who can drop into pass coverage or rush the quarterback.
8/23/14: After redshirting in 2011, McKinney made a splash in 2012 and was named a First-Team Freshman All-American by numerous media outlets. He recorded 102 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and four passes broken up. The sophomore had 70 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2013.
McKinney is an intriguing, versatile athlete who has a lot of upside. He has the potential to add weight and play 3-4 outside linebacker, and maybe even some defensive end, along with inside and outside linebacker. Sources have told WalterFootball.com that they view McKinney as a three-down middle linebacker candidate for the NFL.
Shaq Thompson*, OLB, Washington
Height: 6-1. Weight: 228. Projected 40 Time: 4.60. Projected Round (2015): 1-3. 1/31/15: Thompson totaled 81 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, four passes broken up, one interception and three forced fumbles in 2014. He produced some clutch turnovers for the Huskies. Thompson showed his athleticism by contributing at running back with an average of averaged 7.5 yards per carry for 456 yards and two touchdowns. He produced some clutch turnovers for the Huskies. For the NFL, Thompson is a speedy sideline-to-sideline linebacker. A few teams told WalterFootball.com that they graded Thompson on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft.
8/23/14: Thompson played well for Washington in 2013 with 78 tackles, four tackles for a loss, four passes broken up and an interception. He was a freshman sensation for the Huskies the year before and made a huge impact for their defense. Thompson totaled 74 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, three interceptions, three passes broken up and a blocked kick.
The junior has added some necessary weight. It will be interesting to see if Thompson can take his game to another level as an upperclassman.
Personal: Thompson played pro baseball in the minor leagues for the Boston Red Sox. After one season of minor league baseball, Thompson gave up on baseball to focus on football preparation in the summer of 2013.
Eli Harold*, OLB/DE, Virginia
Height: 6-4. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.85. Projected Round (2015): 2-3. 1/31/15: Harold was very impressive in 2014. He totaled 54 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, two passes batted, one interception and a forced fumble. The junior had strong showings against UCLA, Louisville and North Carolina. Harold is fast and athletic on the edge. He looks like he could add weight to remain in a 4-3 defense in the NFL.
8/23/14: Harold made a big impact as an edge rusher for Virginia in 2013. The first-year starter totaled 8.5 sacks with 15 tackles for a loss, 51 tackles, two forced fumbles and a pass broken up. His season was highlighted by a three-sack game against rival Virginia Tech.
Harold is a fast and athletic edge rusher, but probably will have to move to linebacker if he can't gain a significant amount of weight. As a freshman backup in 2012, Harold had two sacks.
Hau'Oli Kikaha, OLB/DE, Washington
Height: 6-2. Weight: 246. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2015): 2-3. 1/31/15: In 2014, Kikaha led college football in sacks with 19. He also had 66 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two passes batted. He was extremely consistent, recording a sack in every game. At the Senior Bowl, Kikaha illustrated that he needs some work for the NFL as an outside linebacker and isn't big enough to be more than a situational defensive end for obvious passing plays.
Kikaha is quick off the edge with good moves and agility. Kikaha needs to get stronger for the NFL. He would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. For a 4-3 defense, Kikaha would need to have to move from linebacker to end. If Kikaha were bigger with more explosiveness, he'd be a higher draft pick.
8/23/14: After missing the 2012 season with a knee injury, Kikaha took the Pac-12 by storm as a junior. He ripped off 13 sacks with 70 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and three passes batted. He had only 15 tackles in 2011 and 49 stops in 2010. Kikaha is a dangerous edge rusher who could rise high if he can stay consistent with his 2013 performance.
Personal: Former champion in judo.
Lorenzo Mauldin, OLB, Louisville
Height: 6-4. Weight: 244. Projected 40 Time: 4.84. Projected Round (2015): 2-3. 1/31/15: Mauldin was moved to outside linebacker for 2014, and that is the realistic home for him for the NFL unless he can add a significant amount of weight. Mauldin performed well in his position change. He racked up 51 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, three passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2014. Mauldin is quick off the edge with some nice pass-rushing technique.
8/23/14: Mauldin is a speed rusher who needs to add weight for the NFL. Otherwise, he'll have to move to outside linebacker. In 2013, Mauldin formed a dynamic duo with teammate Marcus Smith coming from the other side. Mauldin had 9.5 sacks, 40 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and four passes broken up. In 2012, he was a backup who totaled 4.5 sacks.
Jordan Hicks, OLB, Texas
Height: 6-1. Weight: 241. Projected 40 Time: 4.72. Projected Round (2015): 3-5. 1/31/15: Hicks had an excellent season for Texas and would be higher in the rankings if it weren't for the size of his medical file. That being said, Hicks went from maybe going undrafted to a potential mid-rounder due to an impressive senior season. He totaled 107 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, two passes broken up and two interceptions in 2014. Hicks also played well at the Senior Bowl, and, of course, teams were asking a lot of questions about his medical background. He has shown speed, tackling ability and instincts.
8/23/14: Hicks only played four games in 2013 before a torn Achilles tendon ended his season. He was Texas' leading tackler at the time of his injury with 41 stops. The season before, Hicks missed 10 games with hip injury. He was a First-Team All-Big XII selection in 2011 with 65 tackles, four tackles for a loss and four passes broken up. Hicks must stay healthy and produce as a senior in order to get drafted.
Martrell Spaight, OLB, Arkansas
Height: 5-11. Weight: 232. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2015): 3-5. 1/31/15: Spaight was an All-SEC selection and earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl. In Mobile, he had a solid week and showed that he is an instinctive defender. 2014 was the senior's a breakout season with 128 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, three passes broken up, one interception and one sack. He had only 22 tackles with a sack as a junior. Spaight played two seasons at Coffeyville Community College.
Personal: Son of Mark and Tela Spaight.
Mike Hull, OLB/ILB, Penn State
Height: 6-0. Weight: 231. Projected 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2015): 3-5. 1/31/15: Hull had a quality senior season for the Nittany Lions as he was a quality run-defender and was decent in pass coverage. Hull totaled 107 tackles with 10.5 for a loss, three passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble in 2014. Hull had a decent week at the Senior Bowl, but didn't really stand out.
As a junior, Hull had 78 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, .5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two passes breakups. He had 58 tackles with four sacks, five tackles for a loss, one interception, and four passes broken up in 2012.
Personal: Son of Tom and Donna Hull. His father played for the 49ers and Packers.
Jake Ryan, OLB/ILB, Michigan
Height: 6-3. Weight: 236. Projected 40 Time: 4.73. Projected Round (2015): 3-5. 1/31/15: Ryan showed flashes of his 2012 form in 2014, and looked better on a weekly basis. For the year, he totaled 112 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and three passes broken up. Ryan had three tackles for a loss with double-digit tackles against Penn State and Utah. He is a tough run-defender who needs to improve his pass coverage for the NFL. Ryan was solid at the East-West Shrine.
8/23/14: After an ACL tear in spring practice of 2013, Ryan made his return to the field in amazingly quick fashion. In a limited role against Penn State in early October, he had three tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Ryan wasn't the same player he was in 2012, but he contributed for his team. The junior had 30 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss. Ryan would have been better off taking a redshirt and having another year of eligibility to play college ball.
Ryan was Michigan's best defensive player in 2012, so it was understandable why they were desperate to have him back. Ryan led the team in tackles with 88 in 2012. As a sophomore, he also had 16 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes batted and four forced fumbles in a sensational season.
Ryan recorded 37 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one forced fumble in 2011. He is a pure football player with toughness, intelligence and good instincts.
Lynden Trail, OLB, Norfolk State
Height: 6-6. Weight: 262. Projected 40 Time: 4.83. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 1/31/14: Trail helped himself with a good week at the Senior Bowl. He showed the ability to drop into coverage and rush the passer. Trail is a great fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker. If it weren't for the off-the-field concerns, he'd probably be a second-day pick.
Trail is a two-time FCS Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year with the Buck Buchanan Award. The senior amassed 91 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks in 2014. Trail has a history of off-the-field issues, including an arrest for assault. He started out his collegiate career at Florida before transferring to Norfolk State in 2012.
Geneo Grissom, OLB/DE, Oklahoma
Height: 6-3. Weight: 264. Projected 40 Time: 4.82. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 1/31/15: Grissom was moved 3-4 outside linebacker for 2014 and rushed the quarterback from that position. The switch was a good fit for him and one that would work for him in the NFL. Grissom had 39 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, four passes batted, one interception and two forced fumbles in 2014, but he has put more pressure on the quarterback than the numbers indicate. He missed the final three games with an injury and didn't impress at the Senior Bowl.
8/23/14: 2013 was Grissom's first season of serious playing time, but the junior definitely picked the right time to have a breakout game. He closed out the year by making 2.5 sacks, batting a pass and returning two fumbles 34 yards with an eight-yard touchdown run to help beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. For the season, Grissom totaled 40 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, one interception and four passes deflected. Prior to 2013, he was a backup who also spent some time playing tight end.
Personal: Son of Eugene Grissom and Kimberly Wallace. Majoring in African-American studies.
Tony Washington, OLB, Oregon
Height: 6-3. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 1/31/15: Washington had 60 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, two forced fumbles and four sacks this year. After a quiet start to the season, he played better in the second half. Because of the National Championship, he was late to the East-West Shrine and didn't get to show much.
8/23/14: In 2013, Washington totaled 60 tackles with 12 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. He showed nice edge rushing skills for the Ducks. Washington had 20 tackles and 18 tackles respectively over his first two seasons.
Personal: son of Monique and the late Tony Washington Sr.
James Vaughters, OLB/ILB, Stanford
Height: 6-2. Weight: 258. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 1/31/15: Vaughters totaled 42 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2014. For the NFL, he would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Vaughters had a decent week at the East-West Shrine, but didn't do much to help his draft stock.
8/23/14: Vaughters is a tough, physical linebacker who has some pass-rush ability. He had 36 tackles with six tackles for a loss, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2013. Early on at Stanford, Vaughters was an outside linebacker before moving inside as a sophomore in 2012. With Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov in the NFL, the Cardinal may move Vaughters around from inside in running downs to outside in passing situations.
Personal: Son of Jonathan and Vanessa Vaughters. Majoring in American studies.
Zach Hodges, OLB, Harvard
Height: 6-2. Weight: 242. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 1/31/15: Hodges has received some draft buzz. He snagged an interception this season, but Harvard doesn't publish its players' stats. In 2012, Hodges was the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year. Entering 2014, he had 92 tackles with 31 tackles for a loss, 17.5 sacks and five forced fumbles across his career. Hodges held his own at the Senior Bowl, but he didn't stand out.
Derrick Malone, OLB/ILB, Oregon
Height: 6-2. Weight: 220. Projected 40 Time: 4.62. Projected Round (2015): 6-FA. 1/31/15: Malone had 85 tackles with two passes broken up for the year.
8/23/14: Malone was backup before earning a starting job as a junior in 2013. He totaled 105 tackles with two tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception. Malone is a fast and athletic linebacker. He has started in the middle for the Ducks, but he will have to move to outside linebacker for the next level.
Personal: Son of Derrick Malone.
Dyshawn Davis, OLB, Syracuse
Height: 6-2. Weight: 221. Projected 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2015): 6-FA. 1/31/15: Davis recorded 61 tackles with six tackles for a loss, two passes broken up and three forced fumbles this year.
8/23/14: Davis is a fast linebacker who is able to make plays in the backfield. He broke into the starting lineup in 2012 and totaled 69 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, one sack and one interception. Davis had 49 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes batted in 2013. While Davis is fast, if he doesn't add weight, he'll have to move to safety in the NFL.
Personal: Son of Donte Pettit and Shonda Davis. Majoring in child and family studies.
Josh Shirley, OLB, UNLV
Height: 6-3. Weight: 228. Projected 40 Time: 4.55. Projected Round (2015): 7-FA. 1/31/15: Shirley recorded 20 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks in 2015.
8/23/14: Shirley left Washington and will play at UNLV as a senior in 2014. Last year for the Huskies, he had only 12 tackles with four tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2013. Shirley didn't record any stats against Stanford or Oregon. He lost his starting spot and was only used as a situational pass-rusher at defensive end.
In 2012, Shirley recorded 33 tackles, 6.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and a pass batted. He looked to have mastered the strip sack despite not being an every-down player or starter. Shirley totaled eight forced fumbles and 15 sacks through his first two seasons of college football.
Shirley was a pass-rushing force in 2011 and ended the season on fire. The redshirt freshman racked up 6.5 sacks in the final four games, including three sacks against Robert Griffin III of Baylor in the Alamo Bowl. He totaled 28 tackles with 12 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and 8.5 sacks for the year.