1) Isaiah Simmons | 6'3 | 225 | OLB | Clemson
8/29 - Georgia Tech - Simmons had a great game, amassing 10 tackles on the evening. Impressive stat line aside, he displayed excellent range and speed in space. He sniffed out plays well, was quick to read and react. He looks to have picked up from where he left off, certainly looking like a 1st-round caliber player in this one.
9/28 - North Carolina - Simmons had a great game, really paced his defense in a near loss. He played with amazing rang and speed as a whole, covering a ton of ground. He was seldom away from the ball, diagnosed plays quickly. He had 10 tackles, 2.5 TFLs. He looked like a Top-20 pick in this one.
2) Malik Harrison | 6'2 | 245 | OLB | Ohio State
9/7 - Cincinnati - Harrison had a very good game, showed a lot of toughness taking on blocks, diagnosing plays quickly and cutting off blockers to the run point. He's the most physical LB I've seen thus far early into the season. He had 5 tackles, 2.5 TFLs.
9/28 - Nebraska - Harrison is quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the nation. Aside from leading his squad with 7 tackles, he played very well in space and showed his ability to attach as a blitzer. Above all, he was fantastic at reading the run and taking on the block in the hole, not allowing O-Linemen to get deep into the second level. When he took on blocks, he did so with power, handing out punishment. He can play inside or outside, a chess piece.
10/5 - Michigan State - Straight dawg. You can't watch Harrison and not get excited. 3 tackles, 1 TFL may not seem like much, but watching him scrape across the LOS, flow in space and close in on ball carriers is impressive. He took on blocks well and fought tough to compromise plays from developing. His ability to press the LOS and create pressure vs. the pass also stood out.
3) Troy Dye | 6'3 | 224 | OLB | Oregon
8/31- Auburn - Dye had an up and down game in my book. Yes, the stat line reads 15 total tackles, 10 of them solo. I'll give him his credit for sniffing around behind his D-Line and making plays on the ball. He was in on several plays, hard to miss. That said, he really was reliant on his great D-Line play at times and hung out at the second level too long, allowing himself to be taken out of the play. His lack of strength was apparent, not able to work through the fray to limit plus yardage. When asked to play inside vs. operating in a run and chase scheme, he was limited.
10/5 - California - Dye had a solid game. He tallied 4 tackles, really showed good sideline to sideline range in pursuit. He read plays well overall.
4) Monty Rice | 6'1 | 235 | OLB | Georgia
9/7 - Notre Dame - Rice somewhat quietly had a good game. He scraped well at the second level and did a good job closing in on the ball. He moved well and showed some strength working through the fray of blockers. He chipped in with 7 tackles.
10/12 - South Carolina - Rice had a good game, showed off nice range and really tackled well. He flowed well, showed good read and react skills. He posted 12 tackles on the day.
5) Josh Uche | 6'2 | 238 | OLB | Michigan
9/21 - Wisconsin - Uche was a ghost in this game, notching a single tackle.
10/5 - Iowa - Uche had a few plays where he really stood out. He showed plus skills as an edge rusher, sporting a lot of strength in his bull rush and contain responsibilities against the run. While underutilized in games prior, he was allowed to play to his impressive strengths in this one.
10/12 - Illinois - Uche had a great game. He showed great versatility, coming off the edge providing pass rush as well as playing in space as an off-ball LB. He had a whopping 5 TFLs, 3 sacks.
6) Zack Baun | 6'3 | 235 | OLB | Wisconsin
9/21 - Michigan - Baun had a very solid game, showing his versatility as an edge defender as well as an off-ball LB. While not twitchy, he's a good athlete that moves well and can beat blocks. He had 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF.
10/26 - Ohio State - Baun had a good game, leading with 10 tackles. He showed his ability to be a pesky run defender while challenging the edge.
7) Justin Strnad | 6'2 | 230 | OLB | Wake Forest
8/31 - Utah State - Strnad really impressed in this one. He showed plus movement skills and wasted no time in reading and reacting to the ball. He was a great field generally, instructing his defense throughout the game. He has 12 tackles on the night, was constantly around the ball.
9/13 - North Carolina - Strnad had a great game. While the stat line of 15 tackles is gaudy, this kid was all over the field tonight, showing off excellent sideline to sideline range, couple with great play recognition. There were only 2 plays late in the game where I saw him take a subpar angle or was out of position. He looked like a Day 2 prospect in this one, lacking only size and strength in his play.
10/12 - Louisville - Strnad had a decent game. While he did post 9 tackles and showed good range, flowed in space, he got caught flat-footed a few times, caught up at the second level.
8) Patrick Queen | 6'2 | 232 | OLB | LSU
9/21 - Vanderbilt - Queen looked the part athletically, but only tallied 2 tackles. Many of his tackle opportunities were eaten up by others.
9) Michael Divinity Jr. | 6'1 | 238 | OLB | LSU
9/7 - Texas - Divinity had a strong game, ended up with 10 tackles, 1 sack. He showed off a lot of versatility, operating as an off ball LB that covers the perimeter with some ability to drop into space for coverage.
9/21 - Vanderbilt - Divinity had a quiet game. He was tasked with holding down edge rush responsibilities. While he wasn't bad as a rusher, he didn't stand out as such.
10) Cam Brown | 6'4 | 230 | OLB | Penn State
9/14 - Pittsburgh - Brown had a solid game, moved with good fluidity and showed versatility in his play. He looks like a guy that could become a good edge with added weight, or be a solid off ball prospect.
9/28 - Maryland - Brown had just 3 tackles, but it took just one to see his range and lateral speed in chase. If he can get more meat on his long frame, look out.
11) Mykal Walker | 6'2 | 227 | OLB | Fresno State
8/31 - USC - Walker had a decent game overall, some pluses and minuses. On the plus side, he did tally 15 tackles, was constantly seen around the ball. On the down side, he made a few bad reads and didn't take on blocks with aggression. He has a thin lower half, looks better suited to run and chase vs. sticking his nose in as an enforcer.
9/7 - Minnesota - Walker had a decent game overall, posted 9 tackles. While he stuck his head in against the run and was generally good diagnosing plays, he did hang out at the second level too long at times, allowed some extra yardage.
12) Michael Pinckney | 6'1 | 230 | OLB | Miami
8/24 - Florida - Pinckney had a solid game, some ups and downs. On the upside, he looked fluid in space with adequate speed and quickness. He only logged 3 tackles, all assisted. On more than one snap, he was slow on his run read and was caught flat-footed by a releasing O-Lineman. On another play, a WR (Toney) blocked him out of a perimeter run, not a good rep. He was too often caught in the fray, despite his best efforts to hustle and work through traffic.
10/5 - Virginia Tech - Pinckney had a good game, showed off some good range and amassed 11 tackles. He was seldom away from the action, read plays well and flowed to the ball.
13) Charles Snowden | 6'6 | 225 | OLB | Virginia
8/31 - Pittsburgh - Pluses and minuses for Snowden. On the plus side, he showed some good pass rush ability off the edge, had a nice motor. On the down side, he simply has to get bigger and stronger, was too easily pushed around against the run. I see some potential here, he just needs time to grow.
9/28 - Notre Dame - Snowden didn't do much for me in this contest. He had 3 tackles but was limited as a whole. I'm not sure where to play this kid, as he's too easily washed out of plays, juts not strong enough at the point of attack.
14) Kamal Martin | 6'3 | 235 | OLB | Minnesota
9/7 - Fresno State - On the plus side, Martin was very productive, lead all defenders with 13 tackles. He flowed to the ball well showing off some good range. On the down side, he didn't appear to be real physical and was always clean on his reads.
15) Davion Taylor | 6'2 | 225 | OLB | Colorado
16) Khaleke Hudson | 5'11 | 220 | OLB | Michigan
9/21 - Wisconsin - Hudson was very productive, amassing 14 tackles on the day. While his stat line is impressive, many of his tackles came after good yardage was obtained, clean up duty.
17) Willie Gay Jr | 6'1 | 235 | OLB | Mississippi State
9/21 - Kentucky - Gay was ejected early, which was a shame because he was flashing early on. He had a pick-6 for a TD and also chipped in with a TFL. He displayed good range, instincts and tenacity.
18) Caleb Kelly | 6'2 | 231 | OLB | Oklahoma
19) Jabril Cox | 6'2 | 231 | OLB | North Dakota State
20) Kyahva Tezino | 6'0 | 230 | OLB | San Diego State
9/21 - Utah State - Tezino had a solid game, amassing 8 tackles on the night. Whether he lined up as an inside or outside LB, he read plays well and was good closing on the ball.
21) Clay Johnston | 6'1 | 232 | OLB | Baylor
9/28 - Iowa State - Johnston had a solid game overall, pitching in with 4 tackles. While he wasn't overly impressive, he sports a strong frame and plays with controlled intensity. He was around the ball often, also tipping a pass. He reminds me of Mike Hull.