2016 Preseason All-American Projections: Outside Linebackers

By Charlie Campbell
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Heading into the 2016 college football season WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises and the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next April in the 2017 NFL Draft.

First-Team Outside Linebackers:

Jarrad Davis, Florida

If you watched the Gators last year, Davis leapt out at you and was maybe the most impressive player on their defense, including star cornerbacks like Vernon Hargreaves III and Jalen Tabor. Davis is a devastating inside presence who made some clutch tackles for Florida in 2015. He was an unsung hero of one of the best defenses in the nation and was a beast in the SEC Championship along with the other late-season games against elite competition.

In 2015, Davis totaled 98 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, an interception and 3.5 sacks. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is fast, physical and instinctive. He has sideline-to-sideline speed with the athleticism to be a three-down defender. Davis could be an Mike (middle) or Will (weakside) linebacker in a 4-3. He also could function on the inside of a 3-4.

With Antonio Morrison and Keanu Neal in the NFL, it wouldn’t be surprising if Davis’ tackle total increases as a senior. Plus, he has a year of experience, so he could be even more instinctive now that he has a year of playing against SEC offenses. Davis could be in store for a huge year, and a lot of NFL evaluators are excited to watch him.

Tim Williams, Alabama

The 6-foot-4, 237-pound Williams showed some serious talent late in the 2015 season. He became a pass-rushing force on the edge and put a ton of heat on the quarterback. Williams gradually earned a bigger role and ended up totaling 10.5 sacks on the year. He showed that he is a fast edge rusher with a nose for the quarterback.

Williams showed that he has a ton of upside and could be even better now that he has some experience. The senior barely played in his first two seasons before rotating in last year. This season, Williams is projected to be a starter. Alabama has other good pass-rushers like Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson and Da’Shawn Hand drawing attention, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Williams has a huge year for the Crimson Tide.

Second-Team Outside Linebackers:

Anthony Walker, Northwestern

There has been a lot of positive press and hype about Walker heading into the 2016 season. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder was all over the field for the Wildcats last year, totaling 122 tackles with 20.5 for a loss, three sacks, four passes batted, and an interception. He is a fast and instinctive defender who can cover from sideline to sideline. Heading into the season, many view Walker as one of the best linebackers in the nation, and if he stays healthy, he should produce at a similar level to 2015.

Richie Brown, Mississippi State

Brown was a contributor as a freshman and sophomore, but he took his game to another level as a junior. In 2015, he totaled 109 tackles with 13 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, two passes broken up, and an interception. The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder was a solid tacker and also had good instincts.

With Chris Jones and Beniquez Brown in the NFL, Brown will take on a bigger role, and he could easily surpass his tackle production from last year. Demonstrating pass-coverage ability for the NFL along with the speed and athleticism to be a three-down starter is critical for Richie Brown as a senior.

Third-Team Outside Linebackers:

Peter Kalambayi, Stanford

Similar to other players on this list, Kalambayi could be in store for a bigger year as he takes on a larger role in his defense. With Blake Martinez in the NFL, the Cardinal will need Kalambayi to step up in his fourth year at Stanford. He flashed serious potential as a sophomore with 6.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for a loss, and an interception. Last year, Kalambayi had 52 stops, a 20 tackle increase and 4.5 sacks. The senior has talent and upside to be better in 2016.

Ryan Anderson, Alabama

Like Tim Williams, Anderson came on late in the year to finish the 2015 season in impressive fashion. He totaled 37 tackles with 11.5 for a loss, six sacks, and two forced fumbles on the year. Anderson (6-2, 255) showed versatility to defend the run and rush the passer. He has versatile size and also could line up on the inside to help make up for the loss of Reggie Ragland. Anderson is projected to take on a bigger role, and the talented player should produce an impressive season.

Honorable Mentions: TCU’s Josh Carraway, Wisconsin’s Vince Biegel, Stanford’s Peter Vin, Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter, Alabama’s Rashaan Evans, Florida State’s Jacob Pugh, Louisville’s Stacy Thomas and Penn State’s Nyeem Wartman.

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12