NFL Combine 2013: Linebacker Prospects Under The Microscope

USA TODAY Sports

There's a good chance the Cowboys will be looking to add a linebacker via the draft this year. Perhaps not in the early rounds, but there might be some interesting candidates later. Which is why we dig into the numbers to figure out whether there's anybody we really like in this year's draft class.

Linebackers are the last of the position groups we'll put under the microscope based on their Combine performance. And we're going to do so in largely the same format we've used for the previous posts. Once again we'll start by looking at the target measurements for linebackers. Note that there are different expectations for OLBs and ILBs as listed below:

Drill Significance OLBs ILBs
40-yard dash Speed over distance 4.70 4.80
225-pound bench press reps Upper body strength 23 24
Vertical jump Explosiveness, leg strength 36 33
Broad jump (inches)
Explosiveness, leg strength 9'9" 9'6"
20-yard shuttle Flexibility, burst, balance 4.10 4.20
3-cone drill Agility, change of direction 7.10 7.20

Because there are significant differences in the two positions, I've split them into two tables, based on the position designation for each player on the CBSSports big board. We'll start with the OLBs and look at how many target measurables each prospect met:

OLB 2013 Combine measurables (click column header to sort)

Rank Player Height Weight 40 yds Reps Vert Broad 20 S 3 Cone Targets Met
39 Ogletree, Alec 6024 242 4.70 20 33.5 10'02" 4.39 7.16 2
46 Brown, Arthur 6000 241 DNP DNP DNP 9'08" DNP DNP 0
56 Greene, Khaseem 6006 241 4.71 17 30 9'08" 4.2 7.58 0
65 Moore, Sio 6006 245 4.65 29 38 10'07" 4.31 7.49 4
71 Collins, Jamie 6034 250 4.64 19 41.5 11'07" 4.32 7.10 4
90 Porter, Sean 6012 229 4.75 22 35 9'11" DNP DNP 1
98 Holloman, Devonte 6013 243 4.76 15 33 9'05" 4.26 7.3 0
113 Gooden, Zaviar 6014 234 4.47 27 34 10'11" 4.18 6.71 4
120 Jenkins, Jelani 6000 243 DNP 27 DNP DNP DNP DNP 1
124 Thomas, Chase 6030 244 4.91 18 32 9'05" 4.31 7.17 0
131 Pough, Keith 6016 239 4.9 17 33 9'10" 4.47 7.28 1
139 Hodges, Gerald 6010 243 4.78 22 DNP 9'11" DNP DNP 1
157 Sabino, Etienne 6020 247 4.75 24 DNP 9'06" DNP DNP 1
161 Washington, Cornelius 6040 265 4.55 36 39 10'08" DNP DNP 4
164 Lotulelei, John 5113 233 4.84 25 35.5 9'09" 4.3 6.91 3
278 Mauti, Michael 6020 243 DNP 28 DNP DNP DNP DNP 0
341 Magee, Brandon 5110 223 4.74 DNP DNP 9'06" DNP DNP 0
474 Moody, Nick 6010 236 4.71 17 DNP 9'10" DNP DNP 1

The two standout prospect as measured by their Combine performance are Jamie Collins out of Southern Mississippi and Sio Moore out of Connecticut, with Moore being the more powerful player and Collins more athletic. Zavier Gooden also looks like a good prospect here, and what he doesn't have in vertical power he makes up for in agility.

A little further down Cornelius Washington dazzles with extraordinary measurements. Washington projects as a DE but was bunched in with the linebackers at the Combine, where he proved to be an athletic freak. Unfortunately, reports are that he didn't come close to replicating his athletic performance over four years of college ball. He's been described as "lost on the field", had trouble tackling and looked lost against the run (Here's a detailed write-up on Washington). Couple that with an arrest and a suspension from school, and you see why he's not ranked very high. Which is too bad, because his athletic markers beat DeMarcus Ware in all four drills Washington participated in.

ILB 2013 Combine measurables (click column header to sort)

Rank Player Height Weight 40 yds Reps Vert Broad 20 S 3 Cone Targets Met
29 Minter, Kevin 5116 246 4.81 25 33 9'11" DNP DNP 3
40 Te'o, Manti 6012 241 4.82 DNP 33 9'05" 4.27 7.13 2
121 Bostic, Jonathan 6007 245 4.61 22 32.5 9'10" 4.24 6.99 3
142 Reddick, Kevin 6013 243 4.72 23 DNP 9'05" DNP DNP 1
170 Klein, A J 6012 250 4.66 20 DNP 9'05" DNP DNP 1
206 Beauharnais, Steve 6007 240 4.84 19 33 9'10" 4.2 6.99 4
284 Taylor, Bruce 6012 237 5.01 19 30.5 9'07" 4.39 7.21 1
322 Barrington, Sam 6007 246 4.91 22 32.5 9'09" DNP DNP 1
350 Hepburn, Brandon 6024 240 4.68 21 32 10'04" 4.55 7.4 2
437 Wort, Tom 6000 235 4.78 21 31.5 9'03" 4.51 7.41 1
505 Stewart, Jonathan 6036 242 4.68 19 31 9'10" 4.53 7.44 2

Jonathan Bostic and Steve Beauhernais could be interesting later-round prospects, but overall, this may not be the best year to get an inside linebacker. Perhaps there is more to be gleaned by looking at a couple of addition metrics.

Once again, we'll be looking at five different metrics to get a better feel for this OLB/ILB draft class (read up on the details here if you are unfamiliar with these metrics):

2. Kirwan Explosion Index: [BENCH PRESS REPS + VERTICAL JUMP + BROAD JUMP = EXPLOSION NUMBER]

3. Explosive Power: (VERT+3.5*BROAD)*(WEIGHT/HEIGHT)/3000

4. Lateral Agility: [40-YARD DASH TIME - 20-YARD SHUTTLE = LATERAL AGILITY]

5. Speed Score: [(WEIGHT * 200) / (40-TIME ^ 4) = SPEED SCORE]

Linebackers, 2013 Combine additional metrics (click column header to sort)

Rank
Player POS Height Weight Expl. Indx Expl. Power Lat. Ag. Speed Targets met
29 Minter, Kevin ILB 5116 246 67.9 0.93 - - 91.9 1
39 Ogletree, Alec OLB 6024 242 63.7 0.90 0.31 99.2 0
40 Te'o, Manti ILB 6012 241 - - 0.87 0.55 89.3 1
56 Greene, Khaseem OLB 6006 241 56.7 0.85 0.51 97.9 1
65 Moore, Sio OLB 6006 245 77.6 1.01 0.34 104.8 3
71 Collins, Jamie OLB 6034 250 72.1 1.09 0.32 107.9 3
90 Porter, Sean OLB 6012 229 66.9 0.87 - - 90.0 1
98 Holloman, Devonte OLB 6013 243 57.4 0.87 0.50 94.7 1
113 Gooden, Zaviar OLB 6014 234 71.9 0.92 0.29 117.2 2
121 Bostic, Jonathan ILB 6007 245 64.3 0.90 0.37 108.5 1
124 Thomas, Chase OLB 6030 244 59.4 0.85 0.60 84.0 1
131 Pough, Keith OLB 6016 239 59.8 0.88 0.43 82.9 0
139 Hodges, Gerald OLB 6010 243 - - - - - - 93.1 0
142 Reddick, Kevin ILB 6013 243 - - - - - - 97.9 0
157 Sabino, Etienne OLB 6020 247 - - - - - - 97.0 0
161 Washington, Cornelius DE 6040 265 85.7 1.07 - - 123.7 3
164 Lotulelei, John OLB 5113 233 70.3 0.91 0.54 84.9 2
170 Klein, A J ILB 6012 250 - - - - - - 106.0 1
206 Beauharnais, Steve ILB 6007 240 61.8 0.89 0.64 87.5 1
284 Taylor, Bruce ILB 6012 237 59.1 0.83 0.62 75.2 1
322 Barrington, Sam ILB 6007 246 64.3 0.90 - - 84.7 0
341 Magee, Brandon OLB 5110 223 - - - - - - 88.4 0
350 Hepburn, Brandon ILB 6024 240 63.3 0.88 0.13 100.1 1
437 Wort, Tom ILB 6000 235 61.8 0.83 0.27 90.0 0
474 Moody, Nick OLB 6010 236 - - - - - - 95.9 0
505 Stewart, Jonathan ILB 6036 242 59.8 0.83 0.15 100.9 1

The same players emerge in this analysis. Moore and Collins stand out as very fast and explosive players. Now let's take a look at at how that athleticism translated on the field. To do this, we'll use a modified version of the Production Ratio that's calculated as follows:

TFLs + Sacks + Pass Breakups + INTs
_______________________________________________
Number of games played

When I ran the numbers, I excluded the freshman seasons of almost all players. For most players, this meant the 2009 season, for the players marked with an (*) this meant the 2010 season. Also, this table contains all players invited to the Combine, even though they may not have run a single drill there, like Jarvis Jones, whose spinal stenosis kept him off the field at the Combine. The table is sorted by the production ratio.

Rank
Player School POS Games TFL Sacks PBU INT Prod. Ratio
11 Jones, Jarvis* Georgia OLB 26 44 28 5 1 3.00
131 Pough, Keith Howard OLB 31 58 7.5 6 1 2.34
65 Moore, Sio Connecticut OLB 36 43 16 18 4 2.25
71 Collins, Jamie Southern Mississippi OLB 39 42 19 15 3 2.03
124 Thomas, Chase Stanford OLB 40 43 23 6 2 1.85
39 Ogletree, Alec* Georgia OLB 18 19 6 7 1 1.83
284 Taylor, Bruce Virginia Tech ILB 34 33 16.5 9 0 1.72
90 Porter, Sean Texas A&M OLB 38 30.5 13.5 12 1 1.50
142 Reddick, Kevin North Carolina ILB 38 30.5 8.5 15 2 1.47
40 Te'o, Manti Notre Dame ILB 37 27.5 7.5 9 7 1.38
108 Alonso, Kiko* Oregon ILB 24 20 3.5 3 6 1.35
56 Greene, Khaseem Rutgers OLB 38 28.5 9.5 9 4 1.34
350 Hepburn, Brandon* Florida A&M ILB 22 13 6.5 9 0 1.30
139 Hodges, Gerald Penn St OLB 33 21 5.5 13 3 1.29
341 Magee, Brandon Arizona St OLB 24 17.5 8 3 2 1.27
496 Taylor, Mike Wisconsin OLB 40 32 6 7 4 1.23
354 Knott, Jake Iowa State OLB 33 16 1.5 13 8 1.17
29 Minter, Kevin* Louisiana St ILB 27 18.5 5 6 1 1.13
206 Beauharnais, Steve Rutgers ILB 38 27 7.5 4 4 1.12
46 Brown, Arthur Kansas St OLB 26 16.5 3 6 3 1.10
278 Mauti, Michael Penn St OLB 26 12.5 4.5 6 4 1.04
113 Gooden, Zaviar Missouri OLB 36 17.5 4 10 5 1.01
121 Bostic, Jonathan Florida ILB 39 19 7.5 7 5 0.99
322 Barrington, Sam South Florida ILB 36 19.5 6.5 8 1 0.97
170 Klein, A J Iowa St ILB 38 19 3 9 5 0.95
120 Jenkins, Jelani Florida OLB 34 16 6 7 3 0.94
157 Sabino, Etienne* Ohio St OLB 21 10 4 4 1 0.90
98 Holloman, Devonte South Carolina OLB 38 12 2 11 6 0.82
437 Wort, Tom* Oklahoma ILB 24 9 5.5 3 2 0.81
151 McCray, Lerentee Florida OLB 31 12.5 4.5 4 1 0.71
161 Washington, Cornelius Georgia DE 38 12 6.5 3 0 0.57
135 Johnson, Nico Alabama ILB 39 12 1 5 2 0.51
505 Stewart, Jonathan Texas A&M ILB 39 9 5.5 5 0 0.50
164 Lotulelei, John* UNLV OLB 25 4.5 0 3 1 0.34
474 Moody, Nick Florida St OLB 36 5.5 1.5 3 1 0.31

Jarvis Jones tops this list as one of the most disruptive college players over the last two years. If he is cleared medically to play in the NFL, he should be a great asset for the team drafting him.

Second on this list is Keith Pough, a small-school prospect who was formidable against the run at Howard. He was the first player out of Howard ever invited to the Shrine game and looked good there, but there are questions about how he'll hold up against NFL-type competition. The watch-out for guys like Pough and others like Khaseem Greene and Chase Thomas is that while they had very good production at their schools, they don't show the type of athletic markers teams look for in prospects.

Moore and Collins pop up at the top of the table for the third time: both have the college production to match their athleticism, and both are strong against the pass and the run. Scouts would probably be more comfortable with either prospect if they had played in the SEC, so while both may need a little development time, they are going to be solid additions to whichever team drafts them.

Had the Cowboys not moved out of the second round last year, they are on record as saying the would have taken ILB Bobby Wagner. As such, it's not unrealistic to expect them to look for a linebacker again this year. Who would you have the Cowboys target?

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