Whether it is switching a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme to outside linebacker or seeing whether 3-4 linebackers will make a successful jump to the NFL level, many draft analysts have listed former defensive ends among the top linebacker prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft.
*4-3 outside linebacker: Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and Arthur Brown (Kansas State); 3-4 outside linebacker: Dion Jordan (Oregon) and Jamie Collins (Southern Miss); Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (Georgia) and Manti Te’o (Notre Dame).
Early on in his college career, Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which forced USC team doctors to prevent him playing. After checking with many other specialists, Jones received medical clearance and transferred to a school closer to home.
Jones registered 70 total tackles, 13.5 sacks for 90 lost yards, two forced fumbles and 49 quarterback pressures during the 2011 season at Georgia. He followed that up with 14 sacks and another All-American season in 2012.
“I feel like I’m an impact player,” Jones said. “I make plays. I love the game of football. I’m a great leader, not much a vocal leader, but showing. I think I can bring some versatility to the team; I can play Sam linebacker; I can play Will linebacker. I can play 3-4; I can play 4-3. I’m just going to get after it. I’m going to get after the quarterback every play.”
Brown transferred to Kansas State after spending two seasons at Miami (Fla.), and that made all the difference in his career. Brown registered 201 total stops and 16.5 tackles-for-loss in two years with the Wildcats, and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2012.
“He can run; he’s a playmaker,” Mayock said. “I like him a lot.”
After converting from wide receiver to defensive lineman following his first year at Oregon, Jordan proved to be a key pass-rusher for the Ducks. He finished his career with 14.5 sacks, 12.5 of which came in his final two seasons at Oregon.
Overall, he totaled 121 stops, and 29.0 tackles for loss.
“I kind of like Dion Jordan, who I think is two years away from being an Aldon Smith-type player,” said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. “He’s only about 240 pounds, but he’s 6-foot-7. He’s got frightening athletic skills, and he’s a year away. He would be a situational pass-rusher year one, and if he puts 20 pounds on, I think he’s going to be a perennial All-Pro.”
Collins started his career on the back end of the defense for Southern Miss before moving to defensive line and making an impact in opposing backfields. As a defensive lineman in 2011 and 2012, Collins totaled 16.5 of his 21.0 career sacks, and collected 39.5 tackles for loss.
He also intercepted three passes, two of which he returned for touchdowns, including a 97-yard score in 2011.
In three years at Georgia, Ogletree, a former safety, registered nearly 200 tackles, 20 of which went for lost yardage. He also made three sacks in 2011, and again in 2012. However, Ogletree’s athleticism and playmaking ability have been overshadowed by off-the-field issues, one of which resulted in a four-game suspension at the start of the 2012 season because of a violation of team rules.
“You want to talk about a kid that’s made for the NFL game with an ability to drop and cover, a former safety, he’s fun to watch on tape,” Mayock said. “He flies. He’s explosive. He’s not great against the run, but, boy, in today’s NFL spread offenses, he’s a great fit. But given the off‑the‑field issues and the DUI recently, he’s going to be one of the more intriguing guys to follow throughout the draft.”
After answering questions at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine about being the focal point of a “cat-fishing” hoax that involved a fake girlfriend, Te’o talked about what he will bring to the field and locker room when he gets selected in the draft.
“What I bring to the table is a lot of heart, a lot of energy and somebody that works hard, somebody who hates losing,” Te’o said. “I always said that I hate to lose more than I love to win. The reason why I love to win is because I don’t have to go through that feeling of losing. Those times where I lose, that feeling sticks with me. For the teams, I told them, ‘You will always get somebody who’s humble, works hard, doesn’t say much and will do everything it takes to win.’”
*ClevelandBrowns.com utilized the players’ list compiled by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.