Outside Linebacker Help by Ranking and Round

In the land of the milk-eyes, skim is king

As of this moment, Anthony Spencer is still only here for 1 more year. It would be very prudent to go ahead and draft his replacement if he will be departing next year. Even if he stays on a long-term deal, what about DeMarcus Ware? He's under contract for 4 more years, but can we honestly count on him holding up for that whole stretch? What if he goes down in 2 years? The Cowboys must do their due diligence and look at drafting a OLB for the future. Fortunately, this years draft class is quite deep in OLBs. Some aren't as incredible as others, but there is a wealth of options, even if they aren't as spread out as you would like to see.

Now, I understand that some of these guys would be considered DEs, and some of the DEs I posted about would be considered OLBs. Just roll with it.

Outside Linebacker

Ware is the obvious archetype for the kind of insane outside linebacker we want. In my last post I said how there are no DE's in this draft that are JJ Watt, likewise there isn't quite anyone you'd bet money on being DeMarcus Ware's in this draft class either. So, the best we can do is try to identify which guys come the closest to our All-Pro linebacker. Who is more likely to be Ware and not Spencer?

DeMarcus Ware

40 Time Bench Reps Vert Jump 3Cone 20 YD S
4.56 27 38.5 10'2" 6.85


The outside linebacker position puts a premium on being fast and agile, with high explosion. If you had to choose between the two? I'd probably give the nod to speed and agility.

Who's got top-end straight-line speed? Looking for sub-4.70.

Irvin 4.50
McClellin 4.63
Perry 4.64
Bradham 4.64
Mercilus 4.68
Lewis 4.69
Branch 4.70

You don't have to be particularly strong in this position, but there is a base-line of 23 reps that most of the group hit easily.

Lewis 36
Perry 35
Vernon 31
Ingram 28
Crawford 28
Mercilus 27
Wilbur 25
Jackson 25
Bradham 24
Irvin 23
Lindsey 23

Lewis and Perry are as strong as most DE's, hmm.

Onto explosiveness/leg strength. Vert = above 35, Broad Jump = 10' or better.

Vert B.Jump
Perry 38.5 10'4"
Vernon 34.5 10'2"
Bradham 37 10'1"
Jones 35 10'0"

Perry has some high explosion.

Who is the best of the best in terms of agility?. 3 Cone set at 7.1, Short Shuttle at 4.3.

Cone 20Yard
Irvin 6.70 4.03
Ingram 6.83 4.18
Bequette 6.90 4.07

You see those numbers Irvin put up? Blistering. Ingram and Bequette ain't to bad either,

Finally, I want to look at their production ratios, which I feel like a high score is most important for this group out of the defense. Bench at 1.5 or above.

Massaquoi 2.02
Irvin 1.98
Curry 1.68

Let's look at the overview of all the OLB's benchmark hits. X = Benchmark hit, X+ = preferred benchmark hit, and D for a decent score.

40 Time Bench Vert Broad Cone 20Yard Prod.Ratio
Massaquoi D

Irvin X+ X D X+ X+ X+ X+

Perry X X+ X+ X+

Mercilus X X D D
Bequette D
X+ X+
Johnson D
Branch X

McClellin X+


Ingram D X+ D
X+ X+
Vernon D X+ D X+

Lewis X X+




Smith D

Bradham X X X+ X D D

Based on benchmarks hit, here is my ranking of this year's OLB class. This is just my opinion based on the data range. Since the OLBs are deeper in this draft, it was quite a bit harder to rank them than the DEs. Among the top 10 you could probably move a few of them interchangeably. You won't find a ranking like this anywhere else.

Bruce Irvin clearly gets the top spot. He exceeded Ware's combine numbers in the 40, 3Cone, Broad Jump, and Short Shuttle. Had Irvin gotten a 38 vert, there would be no question as to who the next DeMarcus Ware is. Irvin is hands-down the best OLB in this draft. While Irvin is projected to go in the 2nd, I would have no problem spending #14 on him.

*Quick statement about Upshaw: If you have an unimpressive production ratio and don't work out at the combine? I don't care who you are. Zach Brown wouldn't rank very high on my list either.

  1. Irvin
  2. Ingram
  3. Bequette
  4. Perry
  5. Curry
  6. Massaquoi
  7. Bradham
  8. Branch
  9. McClellin
  10. Jones
  11. Lindsey
  12. Mercilus
  13. Lewis
  14. Johnson
  15. Vernon
  16. Wilbur
  17. Crawford
  18. Smith
  19. Jackson

My preferred players would be the top 6-8. But, out of the top 12, lets look at where they are projected to go in the draft.

Round 1

  • Melvin Ingram
  • Whitney Mercilus
  • Andre Branch
  • Nick Perry

Round 2

  • Shea McClellin
  • Vinny Curry
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Chandler Jones

Round 3

  • Nigel Bradham

Round 4

  • Jake Bequette
  • Johnathan Massaquoi

Round 6

  • Brandon Lindsey

This group appears to be concentrated in the 1st and 2nd round. So, if OLB is a priority, the Cowboys will have to look earlier rather than later. However, BTB underdogs Bequette and Massaquoi could be found in the 4th round. Bruce Irvin is my #1 pet cat this year, and if he really is available at #45, there is no one better.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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