In our final "Cramming For The Draft" segment, we'll cover outside linebackers. You can be sure that the Cardinals will draft one, but what round will it be? They temporary solved that problem by signing Joey Porter but an outside linebacker will still be needed. We know that Brandon Graham will be gone, and guys like Sergio Kindle and Jerry Hughes could be a first round possibility, so let's look at some of the other guys that could get drafted during day two.
Koa Misi | Utah | 6'3, 252 lbs
Projected Round: 2nd
Koa Misi is an animal coming out of college. He's a warrior on the field and his very strong work ethic makes him a fierce defender. He's very good against the run and is a sound tackler. He hustles to make plays on defense and has the speed to track even the shiftiest running backs from behind. Misi's ball awareness is top notch and he has the speed and strength to cover tight ends. He played defensive end in college also and has multiple tools to get to the quarterback. Bigger lineman can give him problems and he will need to add more moves to his pass rush set. Faster receivers can blow past him, but he makes up for it with hustle to regain position. Misi would be a great outside linebacker with the potential to move to the inside if needed.
Jason Worlids | Virginia Tech | 6'1, 254 lbs
Projected Round: 2nd
If the Cardinals were looking for an outside linebacker to strictly rush the passer, Worlids would be their man. At 6'1, Worlids is surprising very powerful. He was a workout machine in college and committed himself to the weight room. That transitioned well on the football field. He was able to reveal an arsenal of moves including swims, clubs, rips, spins, and even bull rushes. He's very effective rushing the passer and is relentless until the whistle blows. He was only adequate stopping the run in college. Teams that run at him will get the best of Worlids and he hasn't shown much pass defense in college. Overall though, he's a committed athlete that brings very good tackling and a strong work ethic to the defense.
Ricky Sapp | Clemson | 6'4, 252 lbs
Projected Round: 2nd - 3rd
Sapp is one of the outside linebackers who's draft stock has slowly slipped in the previous weeks. He'll be making the transition to 'backer from defensive end and most scouts aren't particularly sure he can do it. Overall though, Sapp has the potential to be a dangerous outside linebacker. He's a natural pass rusher that relies on his straight line speed to beat tackles off the edge. He's lanky at 6'4 but has the frame to add muscle mass - which he'll need to. We haven't seen enough of Sapp against the pass but his speed suggests he can cover quicker receivers. He's a good wrap up tackler but sometimes waits for the ball carrier to make contact first. Injuries are a concern but his upside is very interesting, especially if he falls to the third round.
Thaddeus Gibson | Ohio State | 6'2, 243 lbs
Projected Round: 2nd - 3rd
One of the bigger project linebackers coming out of the draft is Gibson. He left school early and many have questioned whether or not they've seen his full potential. He's a very fast linebacker but doesn't show it on the field as much as you'd expect. He's fluid in his drop and will use his agility to cover running backs or tight ends. Gibson likes to get his hands on a lot of passes, whether it be in coverage or at the line of scrimmage. He'll use his speed to beat some lineman to get to the quarterback but sometimes won't play all the way through the whistle. His reaction time and instincts aren't great and offenses that use play action or trick plays can confuse Gibson. Overall he's a work in progress that has the speed and strength to play in the NFL.
Eric Norwood | South Carolina | 6'1, 242 lbs
Projected Round: 2nd - 3rd
The pressure that Eric Norwood can bring to a defense will be very tempting to whichever teams are interested in drafting him. He's a pure pass rush specialist that will threaten teams from the outside but has the strength to bull rush offensive tackles. He's built like a truck and will provide very efficient tackling. He'll dice through the offensive line against the run and is very dependable when taking on quicker running backs. The biggest concern for Norwood is how he'll fare against the pass. Since he's used to playing with his hand on the ground, it's hard to say how he'll fare against passing offenses in the NFL. His drop is forgettable and he doesn't have the speed to cover even average receivers. Norwood's success in the NFL will depend on his coverage skills.
Navorro Bowman | Penn State | 6'1, 242 lbs
Projected Round: 3rd
If the Cardinals want to find a mid round gem at outside linebacker, Bowman may be the man. He's a very smart football player that seems to have a nose for the football. His instincts are great and he can react very quickly at the point of attack. He's a dependable run defender and will square his shoulders for the tackle. He won't get tied up at the line of scrimmage and has the quickness to locate the ball carrier. His drop is quick and he keeps his receiver in his sights. Bowman has the potential to be a play maker at linebacker. His hands are solid and he has the ability to return an interception for a touchdown. Bowman will use his speed coming off the edge and looks to lay a hit on the quarterback. Bigger lineman or blocking tight ends could give him problems. His height is a concern and he's had personal problems off the field in the past. Due to his skills and play making abilities, Bowman could fill the void that Karlos Dansby left at inside linebacker.
Dekoda Watson | Florida State | 6'2, 226 lbs
Projected Round: 3rd - 4th
Watson was the combine champ at outside linebacker when he posted most of his numbers within the top five of almost every drill. His speed is unmatched and he uses it to his advantage on the football field. Watson will often slip through lineman and use his athleticism to get to the quarterback. He'll close on the ball carrier quickly and shows very reliable tackling in open space. His drop needs some work and his hips are too stiff in coverage. He encountered many injuries in college and did miss some time as a result. Watson is a bit undersized for linebacker and it shows when watching him on the field. He can be fooled by misdirection and needs to apply all of his potential to become an all-around linebacker. He may be better fit for special teams to start his NFL career.
Roddrick Muckelroy | Texas | 6'2, 246 lbs
Projected Round: 4th - 5th
If he slips to the fourth round, Muckelroy has the potential to be a steal. He's a safety in a linebacker's body when he's on the field. He has very good reaction time and football instincts. He makes his reads quickly and plays well in coverage. He'll attack the ball when it's in the air and if the receiver gets it first, he'll look to lay the wood. He is very fast off of the edge and can play catch up if he's beaten. He uses his speed to avoid blocks and can generate an effective pass rush. He was used on the weak side and struggles when covering very good tight ends. He tends to avoid blocks and will run around them for that reason - wasting valuable time. He'll need to improve his pass rush and prove that bigger lineman won't be a problem in the NFL. Muckelroy is a lunch pale type player that studies other teams and commits himself to the defense.
The amount of talented outside linebackers in this year's draft instills confidence in me that the Cardinals will be able to find depth outside of the first two rounds. What are your thoughts on the outside linebackers and who should the Cardinals consider drafting?