TAW's Big Board Episode 2: The Search for an OLB

Here is part two of my big board covering some of the need positions in this upcoming draft therefore you will not be hearing any talk about VA Tech quarterbacks past or present or talk about the next coaching hire for the Raiders as that is as obsolete a position as there is in the NFL.  This edition will focus on 4-3 outside linebackers as this team doesn't seem like it will move to a 3-4 as much as many of you are hoping for.  Therefore you won't see names like Robert Quinn or Von Miller on this list as they are 3-4 pass rushing specialists.  We need a linebacker that can do the things that get overshadowed by sacks and forced fumbles.  We need a linebacker that isn't afraid of filling gaps and covering the quicker backs out of the backfield.  These are a few candidates.

Akeem Ayers – OLB UCLA


Many have this kid falling no further than the Giants at 19 however in the unlikely event he falls to 48 no matter what the tackle situation in Oakland looks like he is a must have.  Reminiscent of Julian Peterson because he is the perfect type of tall, rangy OLB the Raiders have been missing since the good old days of Ted Hendricks.  Unlike the two mentioned while he isn’t the pass-rushing marvel that both were, his coverage and ball instincts are off the charts.  He is so versatile the Bruins had him playing not only his natural position of OLB but on occasion ILB as well as DE.  He made a name for himself two years ago on a crazy endzone pick six against Oregon and took off from there.  He could stand to bulk up but with the combine and pro days fast approaching I don’t doubt the guy will do just that to improve his stock.  In the run game while he is a bit skinny for most of our liking he is not afraid to stick his nose in gaps and take blockers on while either forcing the play back to the inside or making a solid attempt himself at a tackle.  A true talent at the OLB position.


Bruce Carter – OLB UNC


With all the 1st round talent on the Tar Heels defense a player of his caliber will get overlooked.  A great, pursuit linebacker, who will run sideline to sideline and will always give a great effort.  He is a solid open-field tackler as well and is not a liability in coverage.  He is also a great special teams player not only in coverage but also rushing the kicker.  If he gets his hands on an interception he will do something with it as his career average per return is 54 yards per.  The only knock on his game may be the second most important.  When he is engaged by blockers he rarely is able to free himself to be involved in the run play.  This is what may cause him to drop down to the late 2nd round in spite of his physical attributes.


Mason Foster – OLB Washington


I watched some video of him against Stanford this year and he was not very active.  I did notice a lot of this could be great game planning by the Cardinal coaching staff as they tried to run plays away from his side likely recognizing he is the one true NFL talent they boast on defense.  He was caught over pursuing and on some run plays made like Kirk Morrison.  This means he shed the block but not until the runner was 3 or 4 yards past the line of scrimmage.  He is a very good A gap blitzer which may make him better suited to be a 3-4 ILB in the NFL.  A good prospect, but not worth taking a chance on with a pick prior to round 4 in my opinion.


Mark Herzlich – OLB Boston College


If not for the incredible run by Cam Newton and the questions surrounding Andrew Luck’s future this may have been the best story in all of college football.  In 2008, Herzlich was a finalist for the Butkus Award after having 110 tackles, 6 interceptions and 8 passes defended.  He was the personification of an all-around linebacker but then was forced to put his football career on hold for the entire 2009 season after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.  I won’t get into his projection since the mere fact he was able to beat the disease and return to lead his team after the possibility of succumbing to it says more about the man’s heart than any statistics ever could.  I do like him as a 4-3 OLB prototype and would be proud to have him on my team any day.


Colin McCarthy – OLB Miami – FL


He does seem susceptible to misdirection however he did play MLB and is projected as an OLB in the NFL therefore will not be responsible for much of the field.  The fact he played MLB and was coached by a former linebacker from the U makes him an intriguing later round prospect.


Lawrence Wilson – OLB UCONN


One of the leaders of the Big East Champs’ defense and has a nose for the football.  He is very instinctive and is in on plays regularly.  He arm tackles too much but with hopefully a great coaching staff to mentor him can develop into a stalwart alongside Rolando McClain for the Raiders for some time.

 I know who I got.  Who you got? 


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