2021 NFL Draft- Outside Linebackers
Chazz Surratt, SR, North Carolina
Surratt is a former quarterback who only played two years on defense in college. He is still raw and learning the position but has shown good progress and clearly has the smarts for the position. His size and athletic profile make him an ideal outside linebacker and he could play the middle in nickel packages or if he adds some weight.
Cam McGrone, R-SO, Michigan
McGrone had a great sophomore year in 2019 but didn't follow it up in the short 2020 season. His numbers don't look that far off, but he struggled much more in coverage than he had. He played mostly outside in 2019 and moved to MIKE in 2020. Teams will have to decide where he fits best.
Baron Browning, SR, Ohio State
Browning was always an incredibly athletic, highly-recruited player who hadn't quite put it all together. He put most of it together in 2020. Considered one of the top 5 OLBs in this class by many, He played MIKE at times for the Buckeyes but really thrived on the outside. At 6'3" 245, he has the size to blitz off the edge and can also play off the ball and in coverage. His size and athleticism alone are intriguing. Just needs to be in a situation that will unlock his full capabilities and keep him motivated.
Anthony Hines,R-JR, Texas A&M
Hines opted out of 2020 after a stellar sophomore season in which he finished second on the team in tackles. He's a little smaller, more towards safety size. He can cover well and plays the run. However, to play LB in the league he will need to gain weight and show more strength. Middle round prospect to take a chance on.
Pete Werner, SR, Ohio State
Werner has impressive size at 6'3" 240-ish and covers very well for that size. He moves well and was often the Buckeyes' best LB in coverage. He's physical and can play each linebacker position, further adding to his pro potential. I still found myself wanting to see a little more out of him, but there's enough there for teams to take a chance. Round 5 is where I can see him being picked.
Justin Hilliard, SR, Ohio State
Hiliard is the least known and least talked about of the Ohio State linebackers in this draft. He also may be the best kept secret. No one will have him being drafted in the early rounds, but he always made the right plays and never got beat badly. He spent six years in college, which unfortunately will be held against him and isn't the fastest on the field. Special teams guy to start out and could be a good 6th or 7th round value.
Charles Snowden, SR, Virginia
Snowden is hard to miss on the field and is one of the tallest linebackers I've seen at 6'7". In Virginia's defense, he lined up as a blitzer and was asked to drop into coverage. I think he's better at the blitzing part and should be a decent rotational player in a 3-4 to start his career. He's kind of skinny for his frame, so adding weight and becoming more physical would be good for his future.
Micah Parsons, JR, Penn State
Some consider Parsons a can't miss prospect, but others are more hesitant. On the surface, he's a perfect linebacker with the size and power of old school players and the speed and athleticism of today's top linebackers. However, he really only has one year as a college starter after sitting out this year, and there are some questions about him off the field.
Zaven Collins, R-JR, Tulsa
Collins weighed in at 270 during the last check and is primed for a 3-4 rushing LB role. He won't be a one trick pony however, as he has shown good coverage ability and speed throughout the last year or so. He's a unique athlete with a high ceiling and should be an early second round pick if no one snags him in the first.
Nick Bolton, JR, Missouri
You might not know Bolton yet, but you should. He's a little shorter than most linebackers, but he's just as strong and very quick. He may not be the best in coverage, but he has incredible instincts and does not miss tackles. Teams should be high on him, and he should come off the board in round two or round three.
Blake Gallagher, SR, Northwestern
Gallagher was the Robin to Paddy Fisher's Batman at Northwestern. Actually, he was much more than a sidekick. I'd put the two as near equals, with Fisher being bigger and having better instincts. Gallagher was still a productive Big Ten linebacker and has a shot to make a career. His pass coverage has to be better, but he will make tackles. Late round or free agent player who could make a roster for special teams.
Garret Wallow, SR, TCU
Wallow fits the smaller and speedier profile of today's NFL. He's also a tackle machine. Played mostly inside in college but fits better on the outside in the pros. Disruptive and high motor. Needs to get stronger and learn to shed blocks. Can contribute on special teams and should get picked on Day 3 as a developmental project.
Jeremiah Owusu-Karomoah, JR, Notre Dame
Owusu-Karomoah is one of the most interesting players in this draft. If you watch the Irish, he's all over the field and make nearly every play. He's great in coverage, has superb instincts, and is a sure tackler. The tricky thing will be projecting where he fits in a pro defense. He's spent most of his career as an outside linebacker but has the size of a safety. He's a possible first round player, it just depends on what teams envision for him.
Calvin Bundage, SR, Oklahoma State
Bundage is a sure tackler but doesn't have great speed or coverage skills. He's a solid blitzer and his production alone is good enough to get him drafted. It just depends if sees potential in him as a pro player.
Rodjay Burns, SR, Louisville
Burns is another guy who is small for the linebacker position, but in today's league, speed on defense is becoming increasingly important. Played 31 games at Louisville with 122 tackles. Moved from DB to LB so a ton of room for growth and development. Burns is a late round guy who might get a shot.
Riley Cole, SR, South Alabama
Cole can also play all three linebacker spots and has the frame form today's pro game. He has added weight and may now fit better in the middle. The one part of his game that doesn't quite fit is his coverage. He'll have to work on that since there isn't much appeal in two-down linebackers these days. Day 3 guy with a higher ceiling in the right situation.
Dorian Etheridge, SR, Louisville
Etheridge is more of NFL linebacker than Burns. He played MLB at Louisville, but I think his 230 lb frame could also fit on the outside. He doesn't cover much but is a tackling machine-- to the tune of 258 tackles. Started in parts of three seasons. Doesn't get a lot of attention. Probably off the board in rounds 4-6.
Tony Fields, SR, West Virginia
Fields is suddenly an intriguing Day 3 prospect. He transferred to West Virginia this year and instantly became a leader for the Mountaineers' defense. He also had a great showing at the Senior Bowl and impressed scouts and the media. Solid speed, solid tackler, but also on the small side for his position. Interesting player to watch on Day 3.
Jabril Cox, SR, LSU
Cox is also a MLB who can play on the outside. He's one of the faster linebackers in this class and perhaps the best in coverage. I covered him more in the MLBs article, so look for further thoughts there. 3rd or 4th round pick with a chance to sneak into the 2nd.