Two posts on outside linebackers are in the books. We’ve still got a couple of second-round guys to get to, but the majority of this post – our last on the position - will focus on some possible mid-to-late round gems who could strike the Green Bay Packers’ fancy in the draft.
How’s that for a succinct introduction? Not bad, right?
- Daryl Washington, TCU
The numbers: 6-feet, 2-inches, 225 pounds…turns 22 years old in October…4.58 40-yard dash time and 17 bench press reps at the combine…first team All Mountain West Conference in 2009…109 tackles, three interceptions (one returned for a score) and two sacks in 2009…five sacks over his final two seasons at TCU.
With all the talk surrounding Washington’s teammate, Jerry Hughes, Washington has become a forgotten man of sorts. Don’t let that fool you, though – Washington can play. He’s a supreme athlete with pure sideline-to-sideline range and excellent tackling skills (have I mentioned Green Bay struggled in that area last season?). His coverage skills are also very good, which would put him right at home in the 3-4 OLB spot. He’s versatile and can play multiple ‘backer spots (something the Packers always love). He’s not overly big and needs to put on bulk in order to shed blockers at the next level. His sack totals aren’t overly high, either, which gives some pause. Still, he’s got solid upside and would be a nice second round pick for the Pack.
- Eric Norwood, South Carolina
The numbers: 6-feet, 1-inch, 252 pounds…turns 22 years old in May…4.71 40-yard dash time at the combine and 21 bench press reps at his pro day in March…unanimous first team All SEC in 2009…81 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions (one returned for a score) in 2009…29 sacks for his career.
The first thing that jumps out at you about Norwood is his production in the best conference in the country, particularly in terms of rushing the passer. It is indeed his strongest asset as he enters the NFL. While not overly fast, he’s great at using his hands to clear free from blocks. From there, he relies on his good closing speed to get to the quarterback. He’s also strong, relentless and a good tackler. He’s not quite as bulky as Brandon Graham and his arms are longer (33 3/8 inches to Graham’s 32 1/4 inches). On the downside, he’s raw in coverage, overly aggressive in pursuit and, again, that 40 time is hard to ignore. He’d be a decent second round pick and an absolute steal as a third round pick for Green Bay.
- A.J. Edds, Iowa
The numbers: 6-feet, 4-inches, 244 pounds…turns 23 years old in September…4.62 40-yard dash time and 16 bench press reps at the combine (those numbers changed to 4.67 and 18 for his pro day in March)…72 tackles, five interceptions and no sacks in 2009…two sacks for his career at Iowa.
While Norwood’s biggest strength is his ability to rush the passer, Edds’ biggest plus is his ability to cover. He’s intelligent, fundamentally sound and has excellent ball skills. He’s been compared to Minnesota’s Ben Leber and, at this point, I’d say that’s fair. In that sense, Edds would be a nice compliment to Clay Matthews (a very underrated cover man). And he’s a better athlete than his 40 time would suggest. Of course, Edds also seems to bring almost nothing to the table as a pass rusher. Like a lot of cover linebackers, he’s not very aggressive. He’ll be on the board in round four and if Green Bay thinks Brad Jones is the guy – particularly as a pass rusher – Edds could be a nice guy to have for nickel situations.
- Roddrick Muckelroy, Texas
The numbers: 6-feet, 2-inches, 235 pounds…turns 23 years old in November…4.68 40-yard dash time and 19 bench press reps at the combine (40 time fell to 4.73 for his pro day in March)…second team All Big 12 in 2009…80 tackles, two sacks and one interception in 2009…five sacks for his career at Texas.
Think of a smaller, slightly slower version of Edds. Well, that’s basically Muckelroy. While he does not cover quite as well as Edds, he’s still very solid in that department. He’s also a slightly better tackler than Edds with equally strong fundamentals. He’s got good instincts and played both inside and outside for the Longhorns (again, something Green Bay loves). He needs to get much stronger and, like Edds, he doesn’t bring much of anything to the table as a pass rusher. Muckelroy will still be available in the fourth round, but if I had to choose, I’d pick Edds instead based purely on his cover skills.
- Cameron Sheffield, Troy
The numbers: 6-feet, 3-inches, 257 pounds…turned 22 years old in February…4.92 40-yard dash time at the combine (improved it to 4.85 at his pro day in March) and he did not lift at either event…second team All Sun Belt Conference in 2009…50 tackles and six sacks in 2009…11 sacks over his final two years at Troy.
Sheffield’s is a name you probably don’t know, but odds are you know of a couple of guys his school has produced (that Ware guy in Dallas and that Osi guy in New York). Like those two, Sheffield’s biggest strength is rushing the passer. He’s got an explosive first step (that 40 time is a bit misleading) and can easily navigate his way around opposing tackles. He also improved steadily in coverage and playing the run as his time at Troy went on. He needs to get much stronger to avoid being swallowed up by tackles at the next level, though, and he’d do well to play with more aggression from time-to-time. That said, if the Packers are looking for this year’s Brad Jones, Sheffield very well could be that guy. He’d be a great sixth-or-seventh round selection and could make an immediate impact as a pass-rushing specialist.
- O’Brien Schofield, Wisconsin
The numbers: 6-feet, 3-inches, 244 pounds…turned 23 years old earlier this month…No combine or pro day numbers as Schofield tore his ACL during Senior Bowl practices…first team All Big Ten in 2009…62 tackles and 12 sacks in 2009…17 sacks over his final two years at Wisconsin…cousins with both Vonnie Holiday and Bobby Engram.
Talk about heartbreak. After a very good showing in the East-West Shrine Game, Schofield was having a nice week of Senior Bowl practices until he tore his ACL. That, obviously, dropped his mid-round status considerably. His knee injury will likely cause him to miss the entire 2010 season, but if the Packers are willing to redshirt him for a year, they could end up with a very good player come 2011 (you know, if there is a 2011 season). Schofield is a pass-rushing monster with decent enough size and strength. Some worried about his coverage skills, but he showed marked improvement in that area in the postseason games/practices. I’ve said before that Green Bay needs to find immediate impact players in this draft, but in Schofield’s case, I’ll make an exception. As a seventh-round pick, he’d bring fantastic value.
That wraps up our look at outside linebackers. We’ll be back later today with a look at some mid-to-late round defensive lineman.