FanPost

Late Round 3-4 OLB Targets, Pt. II

Here I present part two-of-two of my amateurish effort scouting rush linebackers at the tail-end of this year's draft class. Of the players following, all are considered borderline-draftable players who will get looks in the sixth- and seventh-rounds by teams that like what they offer, want them in camp, and which aren't willing to risk letting the players hit the free-for-all scramble to sign undrafted guys after the draft. They will need strong special teams play to make a roster, gradually earning confidence and playing time. Many will go straight to a practice squad near you and, hopefully, develop into solid players. Ultimately what it comes down to with these guys is the want-to. They don't have any media attention. Nothing will be handed to them and they are going to have to work for it, but these are the guys who I believe can make the transition to the NFL if they put the time in.

If there is a second radar under the radar that everyone talks about when they say a player is under-the-radar, that's the radar that these guys are on. I did my best on this list, scavenging whatever information I could find but almost all of the following analysis I acquired via word-of-mouth rather than actually watching the tape myself -- I just don't have access to it.

Louis Nzegwu, Wisconsin

Projected Round: 6-Und.
Nzegwu only came onto my radar recently thanks to our very own draft! He's a very athletic kid with ideal size and length but his production at Wisconsin should have been better. Still, he does some things well and his film makes me think he'd be a much better fit rushing the edge from a 3-4 rather than from Wisconsin's base 4-3 front.

Nzegwu vs. Michigan State
Playing for Wisconsin, we have the opportunity to observe worthwhile snaps. I like his physicality at the line of scrimmage and there were a couple times I saw him fight through double-teams to get his hands on a pass -- impressive stuff. Wisconsin wasn't afraid to play to his athletecism and there were a few times I saw him dropping into coverage. Nzegwu is an interesting prospect that could have a better career in the NFL than he did in college.

Aston Whiteside, Abilene Christian

Projected Round: 7-Und.
A stand-out at the Player's All-Star Classic, scouts raved about his polished pass-rush repertoire. Whiteside was also a 1st-team Lone Star Conference South player in 2011. I'm not crazy about the measurables but he was productive all four years at ACU on defense as well as on special teams (6 blocked kicks in his career). You should also consider that many of these players don't have personal trainers and athletic coaches instructing them on how to improve their 40 and shuttle times while top-tier prospects spend a lot of time perfecting these tests.

OptimumScouting.com had this to say about his All-Star week:

The best pass rusher at the event, Aston Whiteside showed off a bevy of pass rush moves including the swim, inside dip and rip, and had the bend and speed to run the arc. Really can do everything you want as a rusher, and even displayed coverage skills; played from the bubble at “Sam” backer position and looked a bit like Matthias Kiwanuka (albeit 3 inches shorter). Really convinced me that he can play as a 4-3 “Sam” backer, 4-3 defensive end, and at either side as a 3-4 outside backer. Ran down the seam with the tight end all week in practice, runs well and moves extremely for his size; needs to work on depth to coverage drops and overall ball skills, but overall an excellent prospect that can make an immediate impact as a 3rd down pass rusher and rotational 3-4 OLB.

Cordarro Law, Southern Miss

Projected Round: 7-Und.
All C-USA 1st Team in 2011 with 17.5 TFL's and 7.5 sacks, Law should probably be getting a little more attention than he is as a Conference USA standout (see also: Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall; Sammy Brown, OLB, Houston). His technique is very raw, per a report from the Casino del Sol All-Star Game. His pass rush is spotty, leaving his pads open too often due to poor hand usage but features a strong spin move that helps him get off blocks. I have heard that he plays the run better than the pass.

Law, #49 LDE, vs. Nevada
Couple QB hurries early that, with his hands on the QB, I'd like to see him turn into sacks or fumbles. Plays some at RDE, on the field in the nickel D as well. Very good day in the end. Not afraid to get his hands dirty, like the hustle -- love to see him in the frame at the end of a couple short/intermediate passes. I don't think Law will ever be an elite pass rusher but could be a solid rotational guy.

Josue Ortiz, Harvard

Projected Round: Und.
Flashed some ability at the Player's All-Star Classic. His 10 sacks and 14.5 TFL's led the Ivy League in 2011. Ortiz possesses some of the best measurables of any player in this group, making him a prime undrafted target.

Here is some guy talking about Ortiz' drive alongside a few highlight plays.
He actually played DT at Harvard but will have to convert to either DE or OLB in the NFL (reminiscent of Will Davis). He has a lot of work to do to successfully move to the outside but being a graduate of Harvard I would expect him to imbibe the information quickly and accurately. Ortiz sounds like the kind of guy who won't accept failure and he has proven he possesses the physical ability to make it in the league, it just might be a year or two before he's comfortable in the system.

Darius Nall, UCF

Projected Round: Und.
Quick: Who's a college linebacker who beat cancer, went undrafted, and still found his way on to an NFL squad? If you answered Mark Herzlich, you are correct. Nall could be the next. However, beating cancer and playing football doesn't necessarily equate to media attention. To prove it, Darius Nall beat it a second time. Still no love.

Nall vs. Rice and NC State.
#53, spends time at both End spots. Definitely has some tools to work with, winning here with both power and speed. An active player, I love seeing him get his hands up and batting down passes. Nall is a stout kid, tough, outstanding hustle. I root for players that overcome massive hardship as he has done -- you don't have to grill a guy like this for an hour in a back office to get an idea of his character. Interestingly, Russell Wilson was still the QB for NC State when this film was taken.

Brian McNally, New Hampshire

Projected Round: Und.
I have no idea how I found McNally but he fits in this group. He was 1st Team All-CAA in both 2010 and 2011, putting up 21 sacks and 24.5 TFL's in that time. There aren't any videos, no scouting reports, but with his size and movement skills, he projects well to the outside in a 3-4. Scouts praise his motor and explosiveness.

After putting up 13.5 sacks his Junior year, teams shifted their protections his way and ran away from him. His statistics dipped in 2011 but his coach praised him for 7.5 hard-fought sacks in traffic. In the Casino del Sol All-Star Game, McNally was described to be very raw in his pass rush, needing to improve his technique and hand usage but is an active defender who works through blocks. As a size/speed prospect, McNally should get a chance somewhere.

Zach Nash, Sacramento State

Projected Round: Und.
Nash impressed during his week at the Player's All-Star Classic but pulled a hamstring late and was unable to play in the game. Showed some potential as an NFL 'backer, displaying balance and fluid movement ability. Developed pass-rush and special teams ability from his time as a DE at Sacramento. He blocked a kick his Senior year and ended the season as a 1st-team All Big Sky Conference player and team MVP with 15 TFL's, 10.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. For his career, Nash totaled 170 tackles, 40.5 TFL's, and 29.5 sacks -- productive kid from a lesser division.

Not a lot out there on this guy, but here's a quick highlight reel from a 5 sack day. (Nash video begins at 2:26.)

Antonio Leak, Henderson State

Projected Round: Und.
Good luck finding information on this guy. He flashed NFL-caliber skills at the Player's All-Star Classic as a DE/OLB, being named one of OptimumScouting.com's Top 20 players from the game. He appears to possess solid movement skills and timed speed... and that's what I know.
Per OS.com:

Wearing an Alabama shaded helmet, Leak certainly looked the part of an SEC linebacker; thick and powerfully built, carrying the extra weight very well, Leak has an excellent first step as an edge rusher (began collegiate career at defensive end), can make plays off blockers from the bubble, and chase down runners on 7/9 stretch plays. Does everything well, not many weak points in his game, and is still learning the position. A high upside, athletic backer with plus size, girth, and explosiveness, Antonio Leak certainly looked worthy of a draft selection at the Player’s All-Star Classic.


Holy crap, I found a highlight video!
Nice closing burst, and I love that when Leak is after a guy, he goes hard. Most impressive to me is that it includes a blocked punt and a special teams pancake or two. As I mentioned, special teams will be key to these guys' NFL survival, at least at first. Leak probably has a better shot at contributing to an NFL team this year than a lot of people realize.

Delano Johnson, Bowie State

Projected Round: Und.
Johnson is another of those rare souls who actually played rush linebacker in college. I had originally crossed him off my list due to concerns about his overall athleticism but upon closer inspection (and a shout-out from draft) I believe he has enough tools to succeed. Plenty of experience standing up at the college level means Johnson will have less of a transition to the 3-4 than many similar prospects. He's a loud on-field presence who quickly won over his teammates at the HBCU All-Star Bowl, where Johnson was a standout collecting a sack, a pancake special teams block that led to a score, and several other QB pressures.

Delano Johnson draft special, featuring some of his work from the HBCU All-Star week
His best traits are his size, motor and burst. On the field, he is a guy that plays hard from the snap to the whistle. Scouts praise his effort and appreciate Johnson's potential, being an NFL-caliber prospect from a lesser division. He has a real chance to contribute as a special teams ace early, growing into a more prominent role in the defense with time. Enjoy a random Delano Johnson spin move.

Name Height Weight Arm 40 10Y BP 20s 3Cn
Louis Nzegwu 6'3"+ 250 33"+ 4.70 1.59 22 4.32 6.84
Aston Whiteside 6'2" 260 31"+ 4.90 1.65 19 4.50 7.39
Cordarro Law 6'4" 254 N/A 4.83 1.90 23 4.40 7.39
Josue Ortiz 6'4"+ 253 33"+ 4.74 1.69 31 4.37 7.19
Darius Nall 6'2"+ 250 32" Guy HeB eat Can cer
Brian McNally 6'3"+ 262 32 4.93 1.63 27 4.31 7.15
Zach Nash 6'2" 254 32" 4.91 1.73 18 4.38 7.03
Antonio Leak 6'2" 248 32"+ 4.67 1.68 20 4.26 7.07
Delano Johnson 6'4" 265 34" 4.91 1.69 18 4.47 7.55

Approximate median values, as per ProFootballWeekly.com and NFLDraftScout.com.
Arm length is important because the longer your arms are, the easier a time you will have keeping big, NFL-sized offensive linemen away from your body. 32" are average.
40 is a measurement of straight-line speed. The 10Y(ard split) is more important for these guys as it is purely a measurement of burst off-the-snap. Johnson and Whiteside stand-out in this category as players with sub-par overall measurables but some of the best 10Y splits of the group.
BP measures upper-body strength, fitness (bench press).
20s is a player's short shuttle; it is a measure of acceleration and hip flexibility. Of note from FootballOutsiders.com, "No elite edge rusher has emerged from any round of the NFL Draft since at least 1999 with a short shuttle slower than 4.42 seconds." I should mention that the quote was taken before Aldon Smith ran a 4.55 20s!
3Cn is a measurement of a player's agility and quickness.

That's it! Good job, guys. I like to think we made this journey together. Hopefully everyone learned a little more about who to look for when we get to Day 3 on the draft and beyond (I know I did), staring at the ticker on ESPN to see who the Cardinals have nabbed when the Draft-dust settles. As always, I look forward to hearing everyone back-up their vote on the poll with your thoughts and opinions!

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Revenge of the Birds' (ROTB) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of ROTB's editors.</em>

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