This is an average class of senior outside linebackers. However, the position depth improved significantly with the addition of a few blue-chip underclassmen that declared for the Draft in January.
Keith Rivers is the best linebacker in this class regardless of position.
Underclassmen like Erin Henderson and Geno Hayes are talented defenders. They both have the ability to become impact players early in their careers.
Outside Linebackers Rankings
1. Keith Rivers, 6-2, 235, Southern Cal
This versatile athlete has fine speed and good instincts. He has the skill set to start early and become an impact defender as a pro.
2. Erin Henderson, 6-2, 235, Maryland
Henderson is an underclassman who helped add depth to this class. He is a fine athlete who has shown big-play ability. He has the talent to be an early NFL starter.
3. Xavier Adibi, 6-1, 220, Virginia Tech
Adibi teamed with Vince Hall to give Tech a formidable one-two punch at linebacker. Adibi should fit into someone's WILL position early in his career. He had a strong effort at the NFL Combine, which helped his cause.
4. Tavares Gooden, 6-1, 235, Miami
One of the most versatile players in the draft, Gooden had a strong NFL Combine and Senior Bowl week that elevated his stock further. He must improve in pass coverage, however, to be an every-down defender.
5. Geno Hayes, 6-1, 220, Florida State
Hayes has a fine combination of speed, instincts and tackling ability that will allow him to compete for early playing time. On the down side, his performance at the NFL Combine was only slightly above average.
6. Shawn Crable, 6-5, 240, Michigan
Crable flashed big-play ability at times over his career, but he has some problems with his positional fit that will probably cause him to fall into the middle rounds.
7. Wesley Woodyard, 6-1, 220, Kentucky
This agile senior was a consistent playmaker and every-down performer in the Southeastern Conference over the past few seasons. He had a very good postseason, which raised his stock a bit.
8. Jordon Dizon, 6-0, 225, Colorado
Dizon is a mobile prospect who displays keen instincts and fine quickness to overcome his marginal size.
9. Darrell Robertson, 6-4, 250, Georgia Tech
Robertson played both end and outside linebacker at Georgia Tech. He lacks the strength and bulk to hold up as an every down end in a 4-3 set, but may make an ideal OLB in a 3-4.
10. Ali Highsmith, 6-0, 225, LSU
Highsmith is a quick player who does well on the outside. He has shown the playmaking ability to become an early starter but had a subpar postseason, hurting his stock.
Frank Coyle is a nationally known NFL scout who publishes Draft Insiders' Digest and www.draftinsiders.com. In it's 16th season, Draft Insiders' Digest is dedicated to year-round coverage of NFL and NCAA Football. He covers the NFL Draft and free agency extensively with a veteran scouting staff that provides insightful and unique information on players and team potential in the coming seasons. Draft Insiders' Digest is an extensive publication that produces 15 issues throughout the year, and a Draft Yearbook with over 450 in-depth scouting reports.