2023 NFL Draft Outside Linebacker Rankings includes a prospect ranking, a breakdown of scouting for the position, key questions about the position, and a link to learn more – outside linebackers, learn more – inside linebackers.
2023 NFL Mock Draft
- Will Anderson, Alabama
- Nolan Smith, Georgia
- Andre Carter II, Army
- Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
- Drew Sanders, Arkansas
2023 NFL Draft Outside Linebacker Rankings
- First trick is determining the position in the NFL- if possibly a defensive end. Most 4-3 DE’s are fairly long and built, but some 4-3 DE’s in certain systems are “designated pass rushers” or “pass rush specialists”, that might come in on 3rd down or any obvious passing down. That is generally a smaller, speedier defensive end that could be a liability against the run.
- Primary skills to evaluate:
- Ability to drop into coverage (including covering matchup nightmares like speedy tight ends and running backs that move into the slot to receive).
- Run stopping ability.
- Blitzing ability (or general pass rush ability).
- “Sideline to sideline” agility and range.
- Can “break down”, which is a tackling technique of stopping before you tackle someone so you don’t get beat by last second moves.
- Number of sacks / INT’s, TFL’s
- Most of the OLB’s in the scouting reports are either middle linebackers in 4-3’s or OLB’s in 3-4… the skillset is often pretty close. Guys that are destined to play strongside or weakside in a 4-3 are generally a tier below and skew strongly to either better against the run, or better in coverage.
2023 NFL Draft Inside Linebacker Rankings
- Maybe the toughest scouting reports to make, because a lot of confusion:
- Inside linebackers in 3-4 aren’t generally premium players in the draft, but there is always a couple that have exceptionally well rounded skillsets that sneak into early rounds.
- The two inside linebacker positions in a 3-4 often have fairly varied responsibilities, one being the move-forward, run stopping, gap-filling player that needs to be a strong, reliable tackler, and the other being the playmaker that has more freedom to roam.
- The inside linebackers in the draft that more often get drafted high are really going to be Middle Linebackers in a 4-3.
- If a linebacker in college is a tackling machine, is big and strong, a violent tackler that wraps up well, and they seem to be much better moving forward than back, they are probably going to be an ILB in a 3-4 at the next level.
- The star Inside Linebackers are most often playing OLB in college, and need certain skills:
- Ability to diagnose plays quickly.
- Able to call defenses, so smarts and experience.
- Chase down running backs and wide receivers.
- Move forward to defend the run.
- Drop into coverage.
- Blitzing ability.
- Able to tackle.
- Loves football…this is mentioned for this position more than any other (referring to linebackers in general).
- Do they “wrap up” tacklers.
- Often referred to as “off-ball” linebackers, just another term for a guy suited for ILB in 3-4 or middle linebacker