The top 2012 3-4 rush linebacker prospects available for the 2012 NFL Draft in the order in which I believe they will be drafted. * - denotes 2013 prospect. ** - denotes 2014 prospect.
This page was last updated April 25, 2012
By Charlie Campbell.
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NFL Picks - Sept. 19
Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
Height: 6-1. Weight: 264.
40 Time: 4.66. 10-Yd Split: 1.72.
Vertical: 34.5. Broad: 9-1.
Arm: 31 1/2. Hand: 9 1/4.
Projected Round (2012): Top-15 Pick.
4/25/12: Ingram has stayed as the top defensive end in the final weeks leading up to the draft. There is some debate about if he can play defensive end in a 4-3 defense, but Ingram played well on the line in college at tackle and end. It seems to be somewhat of nit-picking a special prospect. At his pro day, Ingram had yet another superb performance to confirm his high draft grade. Previously, he had an excellent Combine to that helped him climb further up draft boards. Ingram ran extremely fast, and was phenomenal in the field work. His movement looked extremely fluid and effortless all around the field. Ingram proved that he is capable of playing 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level.
At the Senior Bowl, Ingram was dominant in pass rushing one-on-ones. He has fabulous speed to go along real power. Ingram bull rushed linemen while also blazing by them around the corner. He has a good rip move and spin move to beat offensive linemen. The redshirt senior is a special athlete.
Ingram is very quick for his size, and beats offensive linemen with a combination of speed and physicality. South Carolina used him as a defensive tackle at times, and he rushes very well against guards. Even with Ingram's short arms, he is a dynamite pass rusher.
Ingram started this season extremely strongly. He was slowed down with injuries in the middle portion of the year, but finished well. He had 48 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, two interceptions and two passes batted away in 2011.
In the first game of the season, Ingram recorded an interception versus East Carolina. Against Georgia, he ran a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown and returned a fumble five yards for another touchdown. Ingram also recovered a fumble for a touchdown against Vanderbilt. He ended his South Carolina career well with a big game against Nebraska.
8/21/11: Melvin Ingram has excellent size and is strong at the point of attack. Last year, he led South Carolina in sacks with nine, more than teammate Devin Taylor, even though Ingram did not log as much playing time. He also had 11 tackles for a loss, 28 tackles and one forced fumble. Ingram was third in the SEC in sacks, yet he doesn't get much national attention. On passing downs, Ingram can move inside and rush from the defensive tackle position. Entering this season, he is the starter opposite Taylor. On passing downs when Taylor moves inside that will allow South Carolina to get No. 1 recruit Jadeveon Clowney on the field. If Ingram's production stays consistent, he should at the very least be a second-round pick.
Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
Height: 6-2. Weight: 272.
Projected 40 Time: 4.70.
Arm: 32. Hand: 8 5/8.
Projected Round (2012): Top 25.
4/25/12: There is a lot of debate about how Upshaw will best fit in the NFL as a 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker. That has his draft slotting more fluid, but with the need for pass rushers he still is likely to go in the top 25. Upshaw did not have a good Combine performance and sat out his pro day with a minor injury. Upshaw had a delay but eventually worked out for teams with a solid showing.
Like Ingram and Coples, Upshaw had a dominant performance at the Senior Bowl. To start his week, he caused murmurs from the crowd at the weigh-in. The muscular Upshaw checked in at 6-foot-1, 273-pounds. That was heavier than expected, but he carries the mass extremely well and, honestly, looks like a bear.
On the field, it is amazing how much speed and flexibility that Upshaw has at that weight. He used his natural pad level, power, weight and speed to routinely beat offensive linemen with bull rushes and speed around the corner. Upshaw won a lot of battles against Florida State offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders.
Upshaw was a disruptive force for Alabama in 2011. For the season, he had 52 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, an interception and two forced fumbles. Upshaw impacted the game more than his stats illustrate. He had big performances versus Florida, Arkansas, Auburn and both games against LSU.
Against the Tigers, Upshaw consistently pressured the quarterback and defended the run well. In the first game, he had one sack but had a number of near sacks with hits on the quarterback. Upshaw finished the evening with six tackles and a sack. In the rematch, he had seven tackles with a sack.
Upshaw could easily be the first 3-4 outside linebacker to go in the 2012 draft. He is an excellent edge rusher. However at his size, Upshaw could fit as a 4-3 defensive end as well. He has natural pad level with good strength to shed blocks and the athleticism to weave around tackles.
8/24/11: Courtney Upshaw offers the schematic flexibility that many 3-4 teams love to add in their front seven defenders. Last season, Upshaw led the Crimson Tide with seven sacks. He also contributed 52 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss and four forced fumbles. He definitely is a good fit for NFL 3-4 defenses and projects as one of the top 3-4 edge rushing linebackers in the draft. At 6-foot-2, 265-pounds he has big size for the position.
Whitney Mercilus*, DE/OLB, Illinois
Height: 6-4. Weight: 261.
40 Time: 4.63. 10-Yd Split: 1.56.
Vertical: 32. Broad: 9-10.
Arm: 33 7/8.
Projected Round (2012): 1.
4/25/12: Many teams have shown interest in Mercilus and his stock has had a quiet rise. He stands a good shot of cracking the top 20. Mercilus featured his special speed and athletic ability at the Combine. He ran well, moved extremely well laterally in the field drills and had quality strength. Mercilus showed 3-4 teams that he can operate as an outside linebacker. Reports were that Mercilus performed well at his pro day. Between the Combine and his pro day, he has cemented his status as a first-round pick.
A typical game from Mercilus in 2011 featured a sack and a forced fumble. He led the nation in sacks and forced fumbles last year. The junior totaled 57 tackles with 22.5 tackles for a loss, 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles.
Mercilus showed no mercy this season to offensive tackles and quarterbacks. All year long, he beat tackles with a combination of speed, strength and athleticism. Against Ohio State's Mike Adams, one of the best offensive tackles Mercilus played this year, he beat Adams for 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Mercilus was tough on Wisconsin and its powerful offensive line with a sack-fumble on a bull rush through massive right tackle Josh Oglesby. Routinely, Mercilus plays with ideal pad level and body lean.
The early entry prospect is extremely fast and gets upfield in a hurry. His speed puts offensive tackles on their heels, and he has the athleticism to drop his hips and shoulder to turn towards the quarterback. Mercilus' strength can take linemen by surprise, and he has a powerful bull rush. In run defense, Mercilus anchors and holds his ground well. He needs to work on shedding blocks in order to be able to make more tackles in the ground game.
Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 260.
40 Time: 4.62. 10-Yd Split: 1.57.
Vertical: 31.5. Broad: 9-10.
Arm: 32 3/4. Hand: 10 1/8.
Projected Round (2012): 1.
4/25/12: McClellin draft stock has soared over the final few weeks leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft. He has received a ton of interest from teams, especially from 3-4 defenses. They love McClellin's versatility and the ability to play him at many spots in the front seven. Some 4-3 defenses are interested as well. For a 4-3 defense he would probably be an outside linebacker that rushes as a stand up end in passing situations.
At the Senior Bowl, he weighed in at 248 pounds. In the month leading up to the Combine, McClellin added 12 pounds. He had a excellent performance in Indianapolis with a fast 40 and a great showing in the field drills.
As a senior McClellin recorded 50 tackles, seven sacks, 12.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble and a blocked kick. Aside from playing as a traditional defensive end, he lined up for the Broncos as both a stand-up rush linebacker and an inside linebacker.
Playing all over the front seven took McClellin out of some pass-rushing situations, which hurt his sack production this season. That versatility makes him a good fit for the 3-4 in the NFL. Against a future NFL offensive lineman, Georgia's Cordy Glenn, McClellin was phenomenal. He is quick, and features a relentless motor. McClellin has fabulous instincts and he uses them to create splash plays. In the NFL he could be ideal 3-4 outside linebacker in the mold of Clay Matthews or Mike Vrabel.
8/21/11: Shea McClellin broke into the starting lineup early in his sophomore season and had 36 tackles with six tackles for a loss and thee sacks. Last year, he made a big improvement. McClellin led Boise State with 9.5 sacks. He also contributed 13.5 tackles for a loss.
McClellin had one of his best games against one of Boise's best opponents, Virginia Tech. In that contest, he recorded 2.5 sacks, four tackles for a loss, and six tackles. McClellin has a good motor and is a hard worker.
Chandler Jones, DE/OLB, Syracuse
Height: 6-5. Weight: 266.
40 Time: 4.85.
Vertical: 35. Broad: 10-0.
Arm: 35 1/2.
Projected Round (2012): 1-2.
4/25/12: Jones has been the quintessential late riser. Many pundits have moved him up into the first round and potentially cracking the top 20. Jones is viewed as a versatile player who could fit a 4-3 defense or 3-4 defense. He has taken a lot of pre-draft visits.
Jones had a disappointing performance at the Combine with a slow 40 and a low bench-press total. As a redshirt junior this year, Jones totaled 38 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and one interception. However when you consider that he accumulated that in seven games, it looks much better.
Jones missed five games with a leg injury in the first half of the season, but he came back strong with four sacks in three games after returning to the lineup. Jones had four sacks as a sophomore, so he never had a season of big time production at the college level.
Jones has a nice combination of size and speed. He is physical with offensive linemen and understands leverage concepts. Jones also does a good job of getting underneath the pads of linemen to get pressure on bull rushes. Furthermore, he has good pursuit skills and a quality motor.
Typically, Jones tries to beat tackles with either his speed around the corner, or his strength on a bull rush. He is going to need to add some rip, spin and other pass-rushing moves to compete as a pro. Jones could live off his athletic ability in college, but in the NFL, he will need to expand his game.
Jones is a raw prospect, and the team that drafts him should expect some developmental time.
Nick Perry*, DE, USC
Height: 6-3. Weight: 271.
40 Time: 4.50. 10-Yd Split: 1.56.
Vertical: 38.5. Broad: 10-4.
Projected Round (2012): 1-2.
4/25/12: Perry looks like he could go late in the first round, but some believe he could slide into round two. A run on pass rushers in the top half of the draft could push Perry into the first round.
At the Combine, Perry showed up 15-20 pounds heavier than his listed weight in college. He illustrated that it was good weight as he had one of the better bench-press totals among the defensive linemen. Perry then blazed a ridiculously fast 40 time and showed explosion in the other drills.
In the field workouts at the Combine and his pro day, Perry looked rather stiff, and he doesn't seem like a good fit in a 3-4 defense at the next level. Perry could be forced into a 3-4, but he will need some time to learn the position and should drop some bulk to be more fluid.
Perry really improved his performance from 2010. He finished the 2011 season on on a tear, notching 5.5 sacks in four games. Perry battled well against Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin even though he didn't have a sack in the game. As the year wore on, Perry simply got better. He is lightning off the snap, and his speed to turn the corner and cut back to the inside overwhelms offensive tackles. Perry has a good repertoire of moves, and the only thing lacking from his game is more bulk and strength.
The redshirt junior totaled 54 tackles with 9.5 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two passes batted in 2011. If Perry had decided to return for his senior season and continued to improve under Monte Kiffin before going pro, he could have been a high first-round pick in 2013.
8/21/11: Nick Perry broke out with eight sacks as a freshman. Last year, his numbers dipped to four sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss. At his current size and weight, he would probably be better served as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin flipped Perry from right to left defensive end last year. If he stays at end as a professional, he should add some more bulk. Perry needs to improve his production in 2011 to get his draft status going in the right direction.
Ronnell Lewis*, OLB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-2. Weight: 253.
40 Time: 4.69. 10-Yd Split: 1.65.
Vertical: 31. Broad: 9-4.
Arm: 32 1/2.
Projected Round (2012): 1-2.
4/25/12: Lewis did very well at the Combine, showing serious strength, speed and explosion. Teams were also impressed with how well he interviewed and explained his time in Norman. He followed that up with a strong pro day.
Lewis played really very well this year, and he excelled at defensive end. His ability to rush the passer off the edge while playing the run well illustrates that Lewis could be a good 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He could fit as an inside linebacker in the 3-4 as well.
Lewis only played in 10 games in 2011, yet the junior had good production. He totaled 59 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, five passes batted, one forced fumble and one interception. Against Texas A&M, the team with the best pair of offensive tackles Lewis faced all season, he had a good game with eight tackles, two tackles for a loss, one interception, one pass batted away and some good pass pressure. Lewis also outplayed the Seminoles and their offensive tackles, Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders.
Academic issues made Lewis ineligible for Oklahoma's bowl battle against Iowa. He is a phenomenal athlete who has speed to burn and is built like a truck. On the field, Lewis is an intimidating force who plays with a mean streak. He is an underrated prospect who could be a pick who many teams eventually regret passing on.
8/23/11: The junior Ronnell Lewis looked poised for a breakout season after flashing as a sophomore. He recorded 3.5 sacks with an interception, a fumble recovery, and 37 total tackles last season in only four starts. The muscular senior is extremely fast and is a violent hitter.
Lewis was a definite candidate to have a big season and put himself in position to declare early for the 2011 NFL Draft, but he is missing practice with a personal matter. Plus there have been rumors that Lewis could be academically ineligible to play in 2011. Off-the-field issues are always a huge red flag to NFL teams, so he needs to come back and utilize his fabulous skill set to rehab his draft stock.
Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall
Height: 6-3. Weight: 266.
40 Time: 4.85. 10-Yd Split: 1.68.
Vertical: 32. Broad: 9-2.
Arm: 32 3/4. Hand: 9 1/4.
Projected Round (2012): 1-2.
4/25/12: Curry could surprise in crack the first round, but looks more likely to go in round two. Curry disappointed at the Combine with a slow 40 time. That poor performance halted his momentum toward the first round. However, Curry bounced back with a strong pro day and reportedly ran much faster with a 40 of 4.69 seconds.
While other players like Coples, Ingram and Upshaw were the superstar defensive ends of the Senior Bowl, Curry put together an impressive week that really helped his draft stock. He had success going against highly-touted offensive tackle Mike Adams. The week started extremely well when Curry checked in at 6-foot-3, 265-pounds. For the majority of the past couple of seasons, he was viewed as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Curry still could play that position because of his raw speed and athleticism, but he showed the strength and size to be a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. Curry was a base end in a 4-3 defense in college, so he already has a lot of experience lining up with his hand in the ground. Everybody knew that Curry was a quality pass rusher, but he performed well against the run also. It was an impressive week that really should open some doors for him to 4-3 defenses.
Curry had 77 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, three blocked kicks and seven forced fumbles in 2011. He had a three sack game against Southern Mississippi. Before this year started, Curry added weight from the 2010 season, roughly 10 pounds, yet he still looked fast and explosive. Curry had to battle consistent extra blocking this year. Right now, his consistency from 2010 to 2011 has his stock moving up.
8/21/11: Vinny Curry is an explosive athlete who had a dominant junior season. He was one of the best pass rushers in college football last year with 12 sacks. Curry also had 18 tackles for a loss and 94 tackles. At his size and weight, he should translate well as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense. Curry is very fast with fabulous closing speed. He plays better in space. However, Curry does not have the size and strength to hold up against offensive linemen when lining up with his hand in the ground as a base end. Some teams were able to run right at him. He typically uses his speed to run around offensive linemen, and that opens up his gap on run downs. Thus, Curry would be a much better fit for a 3-4 defense.
Andre Branch, DE/OLB, Clemson
Height: 6-4. Weight: 259.
40 Time: 4.62. 10-Yd Split: 1.56.
Vertical: 32.5. Broad: 10-0.
Projected Round (2012): 1-2.
4/25/12: Branch turned in an impressive Combine performance. It wasn't surprising as he looked like a fabulous athlete and speed player at Clemson. Branch is said to have performed well at his pro day too. His best fit in the NFL may be as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Branch is a finesse player that could struggle playing at the line of scrimmage. He would be better off playing in space as an outside linebacker.
Branch had a strong senior season. He made 77 tackles with 17 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2011. Branch played well against Auburn in the third game of the year. He didn't fare well against Florida State left tackle Andrew Datko.
After that performance, Branch exploded against Virginia Tech with 11 tackles, six tackles for a loss and four sacks. He is a very good athlete who has excellent straight-line speed. Branch is very quick and agile, plus he closes in an instant.
8/21/11: Andre Branch is expected to step up his production with Da'Quan Bowers leaving for the NFL. Last year, Branch had five sacks with 8.5 tackles for a loss, 54 tackles and six passes broken up. Branch has the physical tools to excel, now he just needs to raise his level of play as a senior.
Mychal Kendricks, OLB/ILB, California
Height: 5-11. Weight: 239.
40 Time: 4.41.
Vertical: 39.5. Broad: 10-7.
Arm: 31 5/8.
Projected Round (2012): 2-3.
4/25/12: Kenricks was the premier workout warrior among the linebackers at the Combine, and his performance sent a charge into his draft stock. He led the linebackers in the 40-yard dash with the fastest time for a linebacker in the past 12 years. Kenricks also led all linebackers in the broad jump and the vertical jump. In the field drills, he looked good moving around in space. Kendricks definitely helped himself. He continued that with a good pro day and has been rising up draft boards.
Kendricks had 107 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two passes broken up and two interceptions this year. He increased his tackle total dramatically from 2010, but his sack production was nowhere near the same level as he moved to inside linebacker as a senior after being an outside linebacker in 2010. In the NFL, Kendricks may be best on the outside as he is undersized to be a middle linebacker. He could play some hybrid inside/outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
8/23/11: Mychal Kendricks broke out last season as a rush linebacker for California. He recorded 8.5 sacks with 15 tackles for a loss and 66 tackles. Kendricks could use some more size to play outside linebacker in a NFL 3-4 defense, but has quality blitzing kills and if he has another quality season, should solidify his mid-round status.
Cam Johnson, DE, Virginia
Height: 6-3. Weight: 268.
40 Time: 4.75. 10-Yd Split: 1.66.
Vertical: 35. Broad: 8-9.
Arm: 33 1/2. Hand: 8 7/8.
Projected Round (2012): 3.
4/25/12: Johnson did not have an impressive Combine, but he didn't hurt his stock either. At the Senior Bowl, Johnson had a strong week of practice that helped his stock. He had some success going against Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, and Johnson was a fast and physical force. He fared very well in the pass-rushing one-on-ones and looks like a future starter in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.
Johnson had 30 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles in 2011. He dealt with a few injuries, but played through them. Johnson has a nice mix of size and speed, with a quality get-off when the ball is snapped. He is strong at the point of attack and has a good burst to close on quarterbacks in the pocket. Johnson is a better player than his stat line indicates.
8/21/11: When Virginia switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3, they moved Cam Johnson to defensive end. Last year, he had six sacks with 14.5 tackles for a loss and 53 tackles. Johnson has some quality athleticism and could improve in 2011 as he gains more experience.
Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia
Height: 6-3. Weight: 245.
40 Time: 4.43.
Vertical: 33.5. Broad: 10-3.
Projected Round (2012): 3-4.
4/25/12: At the Combine, Irvin ran a fast 40 time, as expected, even after he added some weight to his frame. Not surprisingly, Irvin looked good in 3-4 outside linebacker drills as he worked out with the defensive line group. That is his natural and, really his only, position in the NFL.
Irvin was not the pass-rushing force in 2011 that he was the year before. Irvin had 40 tackles with 15 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles this season. Others are higher on him, but he looks like a one-trick pony. Teams were able to run right at him, and there were times when offensive linemen tossed Irvin around like he was a rag doll.
Irvin was terribly misfit as a 4-3 defensive end. He has to stand up and play on the outside. Even in that role, Irvin has to get bigger and stronger to be able to hold his own at the next level. He looks like, at best, a situational player. Irvin has some off the field character concerns as well. He took a lot of pre-draft visits as teams tried to do more homework on him.
8/24/11: Bruce Irvin was a phenomenal pass rushing force in 2010. He was a situational pass rusher last season that recorded 14 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. He had two forced fumbles and 21 tackles on the season. This year, he is slated to start at defensive end for West Virginia.
Irvin has added 10 pounds, but needs to keep going to play outside linebacker effectively in the NFL. He won't take any team by surprise in 2011, so it will be a challenge for him to approach his numbers from last season.
Jake Bequette, DE/OLB, Arkansas
Height: 6-5. Weight: 275.
40 Time: 4.78. 10-Yd Split: 1.72.
Vertical: 34. Broad: 9-5.
Arm: 32. Hand: 9 1/4.
Projected Round (2012): 3-4.
4/25/12: Bequette had a solid Combine performance after a nice week at the Senior Bowl. He also spent some time as an outside linebacker and showed the potential to play the position in the NFL. If a 3-4 team drafts Bequette, it may want to have him drop 10 pounds so he can get quicker.
Bequette had a feast-or-famine season. He missed three games with a hamstring injury, two of which were against Alabama and Texas A&M. Bequette was quiet in some of the other games but exploded against South Carolina with three sacks and a forced fumble. He had 28 tackles with 10.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks and five forced fumbles in 2011. Bequette was producing well late in the regular season but was held in check by LSU. He finished his season strong with two sacks against Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
8/21/11: In 2010, Jake Bequette had seven sacks with 32 tackles and 8.5 tackles for a loss. He enters his senior year with 13.5 sacks over 32 starts. Bequette has already finished his bachelor's degree and is getting a master's. His intelligence and character will appeal to teams during the interview process. If Bequette adds weight, he could be a five technique in a 3-4, otherwise he looks like a left end in a 4-3 defense.
Jonathan Massaquoi*, OLB/DE, Troy
Height: 6-2. Weight: 264.
40 Time: 4.78. 10-Yd Split: 1.70.
Vertical: 33.5. Broad: 10-0.
Arm: 34 1/8.
Projected Round (2012): 4-6.
4/25/12: Massaquoi has added some weight to make him an option for 4-3 defenses, but he had a dissatisfying performance at the Combine with a slow time and low bench-press total. Massaquoi had 52 tackles with six sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss in 2011. He received extra blocking attention, but needed more production to help his draft status. Troy played Clemson and Auburn to start the season, and it hurts his draft stock that he didn't produce against some of the top opponents his team faced.
If Massaquoi returned to Troy and had a big senior season, he could have improved his ranking for the 2013 draft. Should a 4-3 defense draft Massaquoi, it should have him add some more weight.
8/21/11: Jonathan Massaquoi broke out with 13.5 sacks last season and 20.5 tackles for a loss as a sophomore. He also had 76 tackles with a forced fumble. The speedy and athletic Massaquoi has a good get off with strong pursuit skills. He needs to add some strength for the NFL. That being said, Massaquoi doesn't shy away from taking on offensive linemen and plays with physicality. If he duplicates that production with all the double teams that are coming his way in 2011, his draft stock could soar.
Kyle Wilber, OLB, Wake Forest
Height: 6-5. Weight: 249.
40 Time: 4.78. Bench: 25.
Vertical: 33.5. Broad: 9-9.
Arm: 33 1/4. Hand: 9 1/8.
Projected Round (2010): 4-6.
4/25/12: Wilbur had a decent senior season, recording 70 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and three forced fumble. He had a solid performance at the East-West Shrine. Wilbur had an okay performance at the Combine.
8/24/11: Kyle Wilber started out as a defensive end and moved to outside linebacker when Wake Forest switched to a 3-4 defense. He recorded 65 tackles with 14.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks last season. Wilbur will need to add some bulk to be a 3-4 linebacker in the NFL.
Brandon Lindsey, DE, Pittsburgh
Height: 6-2. Weight: 254.
40 Time: 4.78. 10-Yd Split: 1.56.
Vertical: 33. Broad: 9-9.
Arm: 32 5/8. Hand: 10 3/4.
Projected Round (2012): 5-6.
4/25/12: Early in the 2011 season, against Iowa left tackle Riley Reiff, Lindsey was held in check. Reiff won almost all of their matchups, especially in the ground game. That stopped the momentum for Lindsey's draft stock. He also didn't play very well against the Connecticut Huskies and their tackle Mike Ryan. Lindsey came back to have a good outing versus West Virginia with two sacks.
For the season, Lindsey had 54 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He is a good athlete who might be best in a 3-4 defense. Lindsey is not very physical, and he can get pushed around when lining up with his hand in the ground.
At the East-West Shrine, Lindsey had a quiet week as he played outside linebacker. He would probably be best as a situational pass rusher in the NFL. Lindsey's game is rather finesse-oriented, and he did not stand out at the Combine.
8/21/11: Last year, Brandon Lindsey filled the void when Greg Romeus went out down with injuries. Lindsey broke out with 10 sacks, 51 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. The fast, agile end will have to add some bulk for a 4-3 defense, and he could fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
Miles Burris, OLB, San Diego State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 235.
40 Time: DNP. Bench: 31.
Vertical: 37.5. Broad: 10-1.
Arm: 31 7/8.
Projected Round (2012): 5-7.
4/25/12: Burris did not participate in all of the Combine workouts. He was an excellent college player. Burris recorded 78 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and one pass broken up as a senior. He had a similar stat line in 2011 to his junior year production of 80 tackles with 20 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Against Michigan, Burris had some struggles with the Wolverines' stronger linemen as they rode him out of a number of plays.
In San Diego State's 3-3-5 defense, Burris was a rush linebacker. He would better off adding weight and playing in a 3-4 defense that can use him as a blitzer.
Cordarro Law, DE/OLB, Southern Miss
Height: 6-2. Weight: 261.
Projected 40 Time: 4.69.
Projected Round (2012): 5-7.
4/25/12: Law was productive in 2011. He had 64 tackles with 22 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Law had big games against Louisiana Tech and Rice, but versus Marshall and Virginia, he was held in check. Law had a monster game in the conference championship versus Houston. He has a nice combination of size and speed.
Law is a sleeper prospect who could reward the team that drafts him. He looks like a potential fit in the 3-4. The key with Law is for him to stay motivated and improving on his motor. He did not participate in the Combine.
8/24/11: Cordarro Law has continued to add weight and has turned himself into a legit 4-3 defensive end. He played in the 240s and 250s the past two seasons and looked like a potential 3-4 outside linebacker. In 2010, he had 11.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. Law had an excellent 2009 season, when he had 7.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for a loss. Law's athletic ability makes him a flexible player as a prospect that could be a 3-4 or 4-3 defender.
Frank Alexander, DE/OLB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-4. Weight: 270.
40 Time: 4.80.
Projected Round (2012): 5-7.
4/25/12: Alexander has put on some weight, but was not allowed to work out at the Combine because of a heart condition he wasn't aware of. After further tests, Alexander was cleared to work out at the Oklahoma pro day. His heart condition has sent his stock down from the mid-rounds to the late rounds.
Alexander was having a strong senior year, but fell very quiet at the end of the season. He had 7.5 sacksmidway through 2011, but recorded only one sack in the final six games. In Oklahoma's bowl matchup, Alexander went against Iowa's Riley Reiff, and was held in check. Alexander had 54 tackles with 8.5 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, eight passes broken up, three forced fumbles and one interception for the season. He is quick and has a good repertoire of pass-rushing moves.
Alexander had a very good game against Florida State and recorded a sack against left tackle Andrew Datko. Versus Texas, Alexander had a massive game with three sacks and a forced fumble. Against two good offensive tackles from Texas A&M, he had a solid game.
When Alexander went against Oklahoma State's Levy Adcock, he was shut out, being dominated by Adcock. Alexander could have helped himself if he had played well at the Senior Bowl or the East-West Shrine, but he did not play in either All-Star game.
8/21/11: Frank Alexander rotated into the game as a sophomore and freshman in his first two collegiate seasons. He recorded five sacks over those two years. Last year, Alexander started nine games and finished with seven sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. He had a huge game against Nebraska with two sacks and a forced fumble. Alexander has good physical tools with speed and agility. In 2011, he needs to become more consistent. If Alexander breaks out with a double-digit sack season, his stock could sky rocket.
Julian Miller, DE, West Virginia
Height: 6-3. Weight: 256.
Projected 40 Time: 4.72.
Arm: 34 1/8. Hand: 9.
Projected Round (2012): 5-7.
4/25/12: Miller had 57 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, six sacks and two forced fumbles in 2011. West Virginia didn't do the redshirt senior any favors by moving him around the line, including playing him at defensive tackle this year.
The Mountaineers even lined Miller up as a nose tackle in a 3-4 set on some passing downs. Moving him to the inside killed his pass-rushing opportunities, but he finished the regular season strong with a four-sack game against Pittsburgh.
Miller played better this year than his 2011 stats indicate. He was tough against the run and held his ground well at the point of attack. Miller also got more pass pressure than his stats reflect. He has a quality combination of strength and speed and could be a good sleeper prospect.
Miller played well at the East-West Shrine in January, but did not work out at the Combine.
8/21/11: Julian Miller has been productive in back-to-back seasons. In 2010, he had nine sacks with 14 tackles for a loss, 54 tackles, three passes broken up and one forced fumble. That came after recording eight sacks and 14 tackles for a loss as a sophomore. Miller is an underrated prospect who knows how to get after the quarterback.
Jacquies Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
Height: 6-3. Weight: 253.
40 Time: 4.75.
Vertical: 31.5. Broad: 9-2.
Projected Round (2012): 6-FA.
4/25/12: Smith dislocated his elbow in the first game of the season, and missed the next two games. He put together 39 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, five sacks, four forced fumbles and two passes broken up this season. Smith played well against Kansas State and Texas A&M. He didn't have a good Combine performance.
8/21/11: Jacquies Smith had a breakout junior season with 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss and 35 tackles. He definitely benefitted with the attention that offenses devoted to Aldon Smith. If Jacquies Smith can match his production from last year, he should be a mid-round pick.
Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame
Height: 6-2. Weight: 255.
40 Time: 4.72. Bench: 27.
Vertical: 33.5. Broad: 9-6.
Projected 40 Time: 4.59.
Projected Round (2012): 6-FA.
4/25/12: Fleming recorded 55 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble this year. He was not overly impressive this season and didn't seem to take advantage of playing next to Manti Te'o.
Fleming did not play at the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine. He did not stand out at the Combine. Fleming could be worth a late-round pick and perhaps he could land with a coaching staff that gets the most out of a college underachiever.
8/23/11: Darius Fleming has played defensive end and outside linebacker for the Irish. In 2010, he recorded 49 tackles and led Notre Dame with 11 tackles for a loss and six sacks. Fleming has some tools as a rush linebacker, and could be in store for a big 2011 season.
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