Outside backer Prospects For the 2009 Draft

Lead NFL Analyst
Posted Apr 24, 2009


Most pro scouts that I have spoken to this past spring were extremely disappointed in this year’s outside linebacker grouping. It’s very hard to disagree based on what I have seen, but there are some very impressive prospects at the top.

I literally didn’t see anything I didn’t like about Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry other than ideal height (under six-two). I saw him for the first time in person versus No Carolina St and Vanderbilt and I have been a big fan of him since that time. Physically he is a very impressive looking individual. He has long muscular arms and an even cut upper and lower body. He is explosive particularly in his lower body and player with excellent leverage. I liked his ability to stack, play off blocks and get to the football. He plays hard and made a number of plays on the backside. Seldom on the ground and showed excellent ability to play on his feet. Was a very physical tackler who wrapped up the ball carrier extremely well.

I thought he was an effective space player who was equally adept in both zone and man coverage. They seldom ask him to rush the passer, but based on my exposure, I believe he would have few problems in this area. I don’t think he’s a Lawrence Taylor, but I do see a lot of Rickey Jackson in this player. I don’t see any way barring injury that Aaron will not be in a starting on opening day next season.

There is absolutely nothing Brian Cushing can’t do on the football field. Another every down player, I really liked his versatility as a player. He’s field fast (runs particularly well in his pads). Brian is explosive with his hands; can snatch, force separation and disengage from block. In coverage, I though he got depth quickly, settled and reacted (sorted things out quickly and reacted to the football).

He has plenty of range, took good angles to the ball and ran well in his pads. Very similar to the Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher in terms of range, toughness, athletic ability and competitiveness. The team that draft this prospect is going to get one hell of a football player who I believe is going to contribute to winning football games.

Clay Matthews is a player that deserves every accolade he has received during the past season. He literally came out of nowhere to become one of the top outside backers in the country. He plays very hard, showed quickness and has edge rushing skills. His get off quicks were very good and he did show impressive counter skills. I’d consider him to be a good tackler, but I did see him leave his feet behind some. He runs particularly well and played extremely hard. Has great work habits (on and off the field).

What troubled me about this player was when taking on blocks, he appeared to break down in his legs (buckle) on far too many occasions. I don’t believe he is the most naturally gifted player, but he was far better than I expected him to be. I really liked Clay’ game and believe strongly he will become an excellent special team’s contributor while continuing to develop as an every down player. I wouldn’t take him with my first selection, but I believe he will be a much sought after player in the early to mid second round.

Clint Sintim is one good football player. He’s extremely bright, experienced (four year regular). As an outside backer in UVA’s 3-4 scheme, Sintim plays predominately on his feet, but also has put his hand on the ground and has been very effective. Physically he very impressive, wide shoulders, bug arms and traps, high knotted calves and excellent legs. When defending the run, I thought he broke down extremely well and leverage bigger opponents.

On more than one occasion, I thought he blew up the fullback, spill it or come off and make the play on the football. Has plenty of range and does not linger on blocks. In passing situations, has a first rate reaction to the snap, can both shed and control blocks. I like his stride length and ability to get to the top of the rush and bend his path to the quarterback. When he smells blood on his rush, showed that he had the ability to gear up and close to the football. In 2008, they added a new dimension to his game, by putting him out on the slot receiver. In the limited time that I saw him drop into coverage, he was very effective.

Outside Linebackers

RK Name School HT WT 40 GR
1 Curry, Aaron Wake Forest 6017v 254v 4.56v 1.12
2 Cushing, Brian USC 6027v 243v 4.68v 1.14
3 Matthews, Clay USC 6031v 240v 4.67v 1.20
4 Sintim, Clint Virginia 6026v 256v 4.79v 1.22
5 Veikune, David Hawaii 6023v 257v 4.84v 1.35
6 Follett, Zack California 6017v 236v 4.72v 1.36
7 Williams, Jason Western Illinois 6012v 238v 4.51v 1.37
8 Freeman, Marcus Ohio St 6005v 239v 4.66v 1.38
9 Brown, Cody Connecticut 6021v 244v 4.79v 1.40
10 McKenzie, Tyrone So Florida 6015v 243v 4.78v 1.41
11 Casillas, Jonathan Wisconsin 6011v 228v 4.51v 1.49
12 Boyd, Jerome Oregon 6017v 219v 4.52v 1.55
13 Butler, Victor Oregon St 6021v 241v 4.72v 1.57
14 Maiava, Kaluka USC 5114v 229v 4.74v 1.59
15 Levy, DeAndre Wisconsin 6016v 236v 4.62v 1.63
16 McRath, Gerald So Mississippi 6017v 229v 4.53v 1.68
17 Harris, Nic Oklahoma 6023v 234v 4.89v 1.69
18 Mauga, Josh Nevada-Reno 6014v 246v 4.67v 1.71
19 Williams, Worrell California 5111v 240v 4.79v 1.75
20 Ellison, Kevin USC 6007v 227v 4.87v 1.78

Free Agents

RK Name School HT WT 40 GR
Robinson, Lee Alcorn St 6021v 247v 4.79v 1.80
Francois, Robert Boston College 6022v 244v 4.64v 1.80
Smith, Corey Cincinnati 6001v 221v 4.73v 1.80
Verdell, Toddrick Florida St 6023v 233v 4.67v 1.80
Brinkley, Jasper So Carolina 6015v 252v 4.69v 1.80
Turner, Tim Arkansas (PB) 6034v 221v 4.56v 1.90
Briggs, Diyral Bowling Green 6025v 244v 4.75v 1.90
Asiodu, K C Central Oklahoma 6024v 227v 4.62v 1.90
Williams, Johnny Kentucky 6012v 236v 4.83v 1.90
Pittman, Kirston LSU 6025v 250v 4.68v 1.90
Fokou, Moise Maryland 6011v 233v 4.71v 1.90
Sales, Tyrell Penn St 6022v 230v 4.72v 1.90
Capps, Cody St Francis (IN) 6006v 223v 4.63v 1.90
Pribnow, Troy Wayne St (NE) 6020v 243v 4.63v 1.90
Nelms, Lamonte Cincinnati 6027v 247v 4.86v 1.90
Palmer, Ashlee Mississippi 6013v 223v 4.59v 1.90


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