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The Shutdown Corner Podcast with Greg Cosell: Evaluating the linebackers

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Oregon's Dion Jordan has elite pass-rush potential. (Getty Images)

You didn't think that we were finished doing podcasts with our buddy Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's NFL Matchup just because the NFL season is over, did you? Well, if you did, fear not -- we're back in the saddle (and Greg's now writing for Shutdown Corner as well) to do a new series of podcasts in which we evaluate the draft prospects by position. We've already discussed the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive tackles, and defensive ends in this year's class, and how it's time to talk about a very intriguing group of linebackers -- inside, outside, and those hybrid "endbackers" of the pass-rushing variety. Greg has taken his decades of experience, and oodles of coach's tape, and transferred both to the college side just in time for the pre-draft process.

The Shutdown Corner Podcast with Greg Cosell: Evaluating the linebackers

On Oregon endbacker Dion Jordan: "He wasn't used primarily as a pass-rusher, and I think everyone sees him primarily as a 3-4 outside linebacker, not a defensive end with his hand on the ground. And that makes sense, because his movement skills are terrific. Very often, in Oregon's defense, he was a coverage player, and he did that exceptionally well. He's really comfortable playing in space. I watched a lot of tape of Oregon's defense, because I wanted to see him rushing the quarterback as much as I could. Ultimately, to be a really good 3-4 linebacker in the NFL, you're going to have to rush the quarterback. And I was impressed. The sample size was not large, but I saw the ability to bend the corner with flexibility, and I saw closing speed. When I saw that, it raised him in my evaluation, and I'm sure it's why he's thought of as a potential top-five pick."

On LSU endbacker Barkevious Mingo: "He played defensive end predominantly for LSU. Clearly, he's long and athletic. He's got long arms, and he knows how to use them. He's deceptively fast in terms of closing speed. In the NFL, he'll be a 3-4 outside linebacker, or he'll put his hand on the ground in sub packages. He's not a starting defensive end. To me, what he needs to work on is the flexibility part. He's fast and quick and all those things you want. But I thought he was a bit stiff in his movement at times. You didn't see the natural bend-the-edge flexibility. He flashed explosive traits, and the kind of movement you can't coach, and that will get him drafted high."

The Shutdown Corner Podcast with Greg Cosell: Evaluating the linebackers

On Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree: "There's no question that he's the best combination of size, speed, and athleticism at linebacker in this draft. He has no athletic limitations -- he's field-fast, and he's an explosive mover with great pursuit speed. He has everything you look for athletically. I would say that because he made the transition from safety to linebacker, there are times when you don't see that quick-play recognition and decisive reaction. He's a step slow. Now, in college, he can make that up at times. He needs some work in that area. That's not a negative; it just means that he needs to be coached in the NFL."

On Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o: "Ultimately, he's an inside stacked linebacker in a base defense. He can play downhill a little bit, he can take on some blocks, and he can defeat them at times. He usually takes a fairly direct path to the ball, but he often gets handled as well. So, he's erratic in that element. I think he recognizes things quickly and sees things quickly, but you would never call him explosive. At the end of the day, there are a lot of guys like Manti Te'o."

As with everything involving Greg Cosell, this podcast is a must-listen for those fans of advanced tape analysis. Subscribe to the Shutdown Corner iTunes link. You can also use the link below to either left-click and listen, or right-click to save to your computer.

The Shutdown Corner Podcast with Greg Cosell: Evaluating the linebackers

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