1) Von Miller, Texas A&M
Range: Top 5
Synopsis: Has everything you want from a 3-4 OLB. He’s a complete pass rusher who has phenomenal change of direction and amazing football instincts. A true student of the game and a hard worker.
2) Aldon Smith, Missouri**
Range: Top 20
Synopsis: Incredibly athletic with a big frame and long arms. He is a relentless pass rusher and extremely talented. A bit injury prone and only 3 years removed from high school, Smith has a world of potential.
3) Akeem Ayers, UCLA*
Range: 1st Round
Synopsis: Has the ability to play in the 3-4 or 4-3 inside or out. Ayers has great size, but isn’t the best athlete. There are questions about his work ethic, but he has the versatility and ability to drop in coverage.
4) Brooks Reed, Arizona
Range: Late 1st – Mid 2nd
Synopsis: Gets a lot of comparisons to Clay Matthews because of his hair. He isn’t as good of a pass rusher, but he’s quick off the edge and great in pursuit. There are only questions about his athleticism.
5) Justin Houston, Georgia*
Range: Late 1st – Mid 2nd
Synopsis: Played OLB in Georgia’s 3-4 defense and put up great numbers so the experience is there. He had a great combine and proved to be a better athlete than expected, but he lacks a good motor and hasn’t dropped back before.
6) Sam Acho, Texas
Synopsis: Played DE, but based on his size and athleticism, he’s best off as a 3-4 OLB. He is tenacious as a pass rusher who’s a hard worker and finds a way to be successful. His size will be in question, but he has the tools.
7) Dontay Moch, Nevada
Range: 2nd – 3rd
Synopsis: Played DE at Nevada so he has good pass rush ability. He’s one of the best athletes in the draft as he ran a 4.4 40. He’ll need to transition to the 3-4 defense and learn to drop back, but has all the potential in the world.
8) Chris Carter, Fresno St
Synopsis: Played in Fresno State’s 3-4 defense and had great success his senior season. He’s a bit shorter than most would prefer, but quick to the edge and has a nice repertoire of pass moves.
9) Thomas Keiser, Stanford
Range: 4th – 5th
Synopsis: Declared a year early, but experienced at OLB in the 3-4. He has experience and is a smart player, but never put up huge numbers and isn’t very athletic. Definitely has limited upside.
10) Cliff Matthews, South Carolina
Range: 5th – 6th
Synopsis: Limited success at South Carolina and no experience at 3-4 OLB, but it’s his best chance for success in the NFL. Needs to learn to be a better pass rusher and drop back. Odds are against Matthews.
11) Ugo Chinasa, Oklahoma St
Range: 6th – 7th
Synopsis: Chinasa has all the tools you want, but he’s incredibly inconsistent and doesn’t have a great motor. If he can find a way to match production with potential, he’ll be successful in the NFL.
12) Steven Friday, Virginia Tech
Range: 7th – UDFA
Synopsis: Despite playing DE at Virginia Tech, he’s going to be undersized for the 3-4. However, he knows how to get to the QB and has great instincts. He has some off-field issues and will need to get stronger.