A Prospect For Every Round: Linebacker

Bill Belichick should be well-informed on Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges, a projected mid-round selection. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

With three effective starting linebackers in Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, and Dont’a Hightower, the New England Patriots may be unlikely to draft a linebacker high in this month’s 2013 NFL Draft. However, they could use additional depth at the position, and, should Brandon Spikes leave in free agency next year, a future starter could also be in the cards. Read on to find out who the Patriots may target in each round of the 2013 NFL Draft should they decide to add a linebacker. FRX rankings and stock values are included to help determine availability. Check out their website and create your own draft portfolio here.

1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia* (FRX: #21 overall prospect, $1,473)

Should New England decide to replace Brandon Spikes with a middle linebacker more proficient in coverage, Alec Ogletree would represent an incredible value at the end of the first round. A lanky, rangy linebacker with impressive tackling fundamentals, but who is nevertheless a forceful presence on the field, Ogletree would dramatically improve New England’s sub packages as a rookie before taking over starting responsibilities in 2014. His character must be investigated; he would not otherwise be available.

2. Khasheem Greene, Rutgers (FRX: #63 overall prospect, $647)

Greene started for three years with the Scarlet Knights; he was particularly productive over his last two seasons with the team, recording 140-14.0-3.5 as a junior and 136-12.0-6.0 as a senior, adding two interceptions in his final campaign. He does not possess elite height, weight, or speed, but works through traffic well and has some experience as a blitzer and in coverage. He could contribute in New England’s sub packages, or as a strongside linebacker in a 4-3 alignment.

3. Jon Bostic, Florida (FRX: #94 overall prospect, $491)

Another Florida Gators product, Bostic diverges from Brandon Spikes’ style of play by offering a more athletic option inside. Although he is not the enforcer that Spikes is, Bostic possesses superior movement skills which could also allow him to potentially function as an outside linebacker, either on the strong side or on the weak side; he has some experience rushing from the outside spots. Bostic’s pursuit and his ability to drop into coverage could be appealing at the end of the third round.

4. Chase Thomas, Stanford (FRX: #129 overall prospect, $444)

Thomas may not have the speed to cover tight ends, but he does offer intriguing pass-rush ability; over four years at Stanford, he recorded a total of twenty-seven sacks and fifty tackles for loss. A 6’4”, 248 pound prospect, Thomas could project to outside linebacker in either the 4-3 or 3-4, the latter of which he most often played with the Cardinal. New England lacked a consistent pass rush last season, so having a player such as Thomas on roster may be appealing, as the Patriots could send him after passers out of either formation.

5. Jelani Jenkins, Florida* (FRX: #162 overall prospect, $429)

Jenkins could go higher than this, but should he slide to the fifth round, he would represent a strong value as a reserve weakside linebacker in New England’s base 4-3 defense, as well as a potential starter in their 4-2-5 sub package. An athletic linebacker with impressive movement skills, Jenkins was used not only in coverage but also as a pass rusher with the Gators. Depth is currently an issue on the weak side in New England, with Jeff Tarpinian (ten games played over two seasons) as Jerod Mayo’s primary backup.

6. Gerald Hodges, Penn St. (FRX: #185 overall prospect, $425)

Hodges is a little bit undersized for a strongside linebacker at 6’1” and 243 pounds, but he helped expand the range of roles he could realistically play by running the 40-yard dash in 4.70 seconds at the NFL Combine; at this point, teams may be considering him for any of the three linebacker spots in a 4-3 defense. Bill Belichick should be able to get some accurate information on Hodges after the latter played under former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien at Penn State last season. Hodges could easily go in the fourth or fifth round, though.

7. Travis Long, Washington St. (FRX: #185 overall prospect, $425)

Long’s stock has dropped after undergoing ACL surgery in November, meaning that he could make sense as a value pick late in the 2013 NFL Draft. He played both defensive end and outside linebacker in Washington State’s 3-4 defense last season; at the pro level, he could potentially play either defensive end or strongside linebacker in a 4-3 front, or rush the passer as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 alignment. At 6’4” and 243 pounds, Long could potentially add some additional bulk. He was a productive player last season, recording a 61-12.0-8.5 line.

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28 Responses to “A Prospect For Every Round: Linebacker”

  1. Tyson Collier says:

    Jordan Campbell will be the steal of the draft!

  2. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    Holey smokes I just went up 289 pts.last night, in the FRX draft game!

  3. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    Another interesting guy is LB Cameron Lawrence, 6’3″ 230 4.7-40 a very good tackler, having 120 tackles last year. Alittle smaller then BB likes at LB. DaVonte Holloman is very much the same type LB at 6’2″ 246 4.7-40, who played at SS some showing very good coverage abilities.

    • Jim R says:

      What about a guy like Kenny Tate (Maryland) ? 4/5th round. He moved down to lb from SS his senior year. Looks like the type of guy that gives you flexability in different packages.

  4. Jim R says:

    One kid I was really impressed with was Vince Williams Florida State, he had a very good Senior Bowl. (7th round)

  5. James says:

    Jon Major could be the steal of the draft. His video blew me away. Better than most of the hyped LB’s. Great 3 down LB. link:

  6. Trev says:

    Good article. I’m glad you mentioned Travis Long. A very good player with a great motor. He played on a not-so-great Wazzu defense so he got keyed on a lot. I would love to see NE pick him in the 7th.

  7. Ray Foley says:

    I like Eric Martin of Nebraska in round 7.

  8. qazmlpgh says:

    One guy I like for a coverage LB role is Zaviar Gooden from mizzou. A little raw but the athleticism is incredible.

    • MatthewJones says:

      I don’t feel like his instincts are that great; despite his athleticism, he seems to be out of position too often. Interesting developmental guy, but probably not someone the Patriots would draft.

  9. Nemanja says:

    Jordan Campbell in 7 round?

    • J H TARBORO says:

      thats what i’m talking about, i just told people to watch his positional workout on youtube,

  10. Phil says:

    Sio Moore. I want him and only him.

  11. Russell Easterbrooks says:

    A guy I like is Cornelius Washington, who has little tape at LB because he played out of Position at DE. His size, 6’4″ 265 is BB type LB, but his speed is very good at 4.55 -40 and 36 on the bench. He will be a project, however, but he has the tools.

    • MatthewJones says:

      Not a fan of Washington. He has no production, and in my opinion, it’s because he has a terrible motor. I’m not sure I’d even draft him in the seventh round.

      • Russell Easterbrooks says:

        I agree he’s a project, and his tape is so limited at LB hard to know. I think someone grabs him in the 3-4th round.
        DaVonte Holloman has been a favorit of mine, as a cover LB, with good size 6’2″ 246.

    • Yesares says:

      I would like him only as situational pass rusher, because has no valuable experience droping in coverage and is not very good against the run. So, doesn’t sound very “belichickean”, isn’t it?, 😉

    • acm says:

      I have to agree with Mathew and Yesares on CW – he does have the physical tools but not the smarts and instincts to be anything more than a situational pass-rusher at DE, not LB, and doubt he would be very good at that either. He strikes me as a physical specimen, who happens to be a poor football player.

      Would be quite frankly shocked if BB selects him even in the 4th and later rounds, tbh.

  12. George says:

    Arthur Brown is the guy to target before Ogletree in round 1, if Brown is there. This is the teams’ number one need before wide receiver, defensive line and defensive secondary. I don’t want to see Spikes or Hightower ever trying to cover Ray Rice or Dennis Pitta like they were in the AFC Title game last year.

    • MatthewJones says:

      I wonder if Dane Fletcher can provide an upgrade in the sub packages. I could also see the Patriots using Adrian Wilson almost as the second linebacker, with Steve Gregory playing strong safety.

      • J H TARBORO says:

        The exact reason he retained for, Dane is a very good LB. I can’t wait to see the newcomers (DE Marcus Bernard, DL Armond Armstead, DL/LB Jason Vega). Can these 3 players make a big impact?

    • acm says:

      Agree that Brown would be a better fit for a 1st round LB, especially for the Pats, but would come at too high a price in a year with few picks and good depth in talent in later rounds. IMO, Brown is the best LB in his position this year but has more 2nd round level talent compared to previous years, which would make him average value in the 1st round, or very early 2nd.

      Personally, I’d rather see if Moore/Greene make it into the 3rd, maybe mid-3rd assuming some sort of trade, or go with Gooden/Holloman in the 4th or AJ Klein and Jake Knott, both from Iowa State, in the 5th and later. Interestingly enough, Matt Patricia was reportedly at their pro-day.

  13. AM says:

    Chase Thomas would be a nice mid-to-late round addition. Cameron Lawrence would be another nice addition in Round Seven, even if he is a bit light.

  14. Nemanja says:

    Jordan Campbell late rounds???

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