By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: The 2020 class at the OLB position in college football offers and wide variety of talented play making prospects that should intrigue many of the NFL teams on draft day. This could be one of the deepest positions on the defensive side of the ball and expectations has possibly 20 outside linebackers could be selected in the 2020 draft.
- Isaiah Simmons (Clemson) 6’4/225: Simmons has elevated his stock arguably more than any prospect in the draft and rightly so with his performance in 2019 and also in the Championship game against LSU. Simmons played multiple positions (OLB,ILB,S,slot CB) and played them all at a high level. Simmons will be looked upon to be a hybrid defender at the NFL level being utilizes in many defensive schemes.
- Terrell Lewis (Alabama) 6’5/252: Lewis could have entered the 2019 draft, but injuries caused him to miss a majority of the games and he decided to stay in school. When healthy, Lewis has displayed 1st round ability with speed and strength on the edge. Lewis can play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme at the Pro level and should be one of the 1st OLB taken in the draft.
- Anfernee Jennings (Alabama) 6’3/262: Jennings can play with his hand in the dirt or in a two-point stance. Jennings is strong enough against the run and can also create havoc on the pass rush. Jennings can also play in pass coverage; which makes him a 3-down OLB/Edge.
- Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma) 6’2/238: Murray is athletic and extremely versatile and can play inside or outside well; but is projected to be an OLB in the NFL. Murray is a sound tackler that rarely misses his target.
- K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU) 6’4/240: Chaisson’s ACL injury set him back a bit, but all indications look good thus far. Chaisson can beat you in many ways and he utilizes all his weapons throughout the game. Chassion is also versatile to drop back into coverage and assist in pass defense.
- Julian Okwara (Notre Dame) 6’5/240: Okwara has a rare combination of speed and athleticism which enables him to dominate on the field. Okwara is probably more suitable to play in a 3-4 scheme; but could excel in a 4-3 if he can add more bulk.
- Zack Baun (Wisconsin) 6’3/235: Baun is technique-sound with elite awareness to recognize the play quickly and to execute. Baun can makes plays behind the line of scrimmage and is also efficient as a pass defender in coverage.
- Josh Uche (Michigan) 6’2/250: Uche plays everywhere on the field and is extremely productive whether he is in between the tackles or on the edge. Uche is also extremely productive in pass coverage and gives the Wolverines a high energy defensive weapon.
- Jonathan Garvin (Miami) 6’4/255: Garvin has excellent acceleration off the ball and does a great job using his hands to create separation from opposing blockers. Garvin also utilizes his long arms to create leverage on the edge.
- Darrell Taylor (Tennessee) 6’4/250: When fans think of the top OLB coming out of the draft, not many mention the name of Darrell Taylor. However; when you ask NFL scouts to name the top 10 OLB’s, Taylor’s name is often mentioned. Taylor is a disruptive pass rusher and often faced double teams on every play. Taylor had an exceptional season for a Tennessee team that underachieved. Taylor would be a solid pick for any team looking for a play making OLB. It’s unclear if Taylor will seek into Day 2 (2nd or 3rd round pick) or slip to an early Day 3 selection. He will need to put on a good show at the combine to enhance his draft stock.
Final Thoughts: The OLB group in this year’s class is solid and deep (projected 15-20) as we should hear quite a few names being called on draft day. The Giants could be one of the many teams looking to add a solid play making OLB who can pass rush with high efficiency. GM Dave Gettleman will be searching on all three Days of the draft to find that playmaker to help improve a Giants defense that lacks playmakers; especially at the linebacker position.