Top 3 Linebackers in 2014 NFL Draft and Potential Bengals Targets

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Outside Linebackers

Dec 31, 2013; El Paso, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) walks off the field after winning the 2013 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. UCLA defeated Virginia Tech 42-12. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

1. Khalil Mack:  At 6’3, 251lbs Mack is on Clowney’s heels as the best overall proto-typical prospect for the specific position in this draft. When you look at Mack athleticism pours out of a very solid frame.

Like Clowney, Khalil backed up every bit of expectation at the combine by ranking in the top ten in basically every timed or counted drill (he was tied for eleventh in bench press). Khalil was also very fluid on his feet in all the agility drills, and had very good hip rotation in all the drop back drills.

Mack showed he can drop back in zone or cover a tight end man up. Mack’s tackles are a collision few can withstand plus his form allows few to break free. Fills the gap with great instincts and rushes the edge good enough to move to d-end eventually if he so chooses.

 

2. Anthony Barr: Barr is the guy at the top of all the “so called” experts boards that I question the most. Switching from running back to outside linebacker before his Junior year insures Barr to be very raw as a defensive player. So a few years are in store for him to become completely comfortable with his new position. Not sure that warrants tip ten pick.

That being said at 6’5, 255lbs, and a 4.64 forty the athleticism alone is draft-able. Not to mention his potential, and Barr did lead the Bruins in sacks and TFL’s as a Junior and Senior so on field production as a pass rusher and backfield disruptor has been show cases to some degree.

Bottom line is Barr is somewhat of a project until he can define his craft doing every thing a OLB has to do in the NFL like dropping back in zone coverage, covering the tight end man up, and also shedding blockers to get to the running back and finishing the play. Although his straight ahead rushing abilities are above average for only playing two years of defense. I feel like Barr could also make the change to d-end if outside line-backer doesn’t work out.

 

3.Trent Murphy: Most experts have Ryan Shazier as their third best outside linebacker in this draft, I just don’t see it. At 6’5, 250lbs Trent is basically the same size as Barr, just not quite as athletic. Murphy did lead the FBS in sacks last season with fifteen. Although Murphy’s forty time was a little slow he did perform well enough with the vertical and three cone drill to prove his quickness and explosiveness will be enough at the next level.

Trent like Barr needs to bulk up the upper body both posted less than twenty reps with 225lbs. (Barr 14, Murphy 19) Trent doesn’t quite ooze the athleticism as the other prospects, but does have a very good build and has the frame to add a few more pounds and not lose any quickness.

Bottom line is Murphy will get to the quarterback at the next level, and he has the length to cover a tight end with man coverage, but need some work on his drop back zone coverages and busting blocks to tackle a runner.

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