Ranking the 2012 Draft Prospects – Rush Outside Linebackers

Today I will rank the Rush LB class for the 2012 draft. This class lacks an elite pass rusher (see: Von Miller or Aldon Smith from 2011 as the definition of elite prospect) but has plenty of very good pass rushers. However, after the top 8, the dropoff is very steep in talent and potential.

1. Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama – Upshaw is the best pass rusher in the class. He combines a good set of moves, with good athleticism and great instincts.

2. Whitney Merciulus, DE/OLB, Illinois – Mercilus’ position is unknown (DE or OLB) but he is a fantastic pass rusher with good athleticism.

3. Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC – Perry has shot up draft boards after a strong season for USC. He is a very physical player with a good set of pass rushing moves.

4. Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina – Ingram is the most intriguing prospect in this draft. Is he going to be a DE or an OLB? Who knows, but what we do know is that he will likely be a very good pass rusher in the NFL. My player comparison for him would be Lamarr Woodley.

5. Vinny Curry, DE/OLB, Marshall – Curry is an intriguing prospect with a great set of pass rushing moves. He has excelled in Marshall’s defense as a DE but will likely switch to a OLB in the NFL.

All five of these prospects currently carry a first round grade from myself.

See the rest of the Rush LBs after the jump.

6. Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma

7. Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia

8. Cam Johnson, DE/OLB, Virginia

9. Shayne Skov, OLB, Stanford

10. Donte Paige-Moss, DE/OLB, North Carolina

11. Cordarro Law, DE/OLB, Southern Mississippi

12. Mychal Kendricks, DE/OLB, California

13. Miles Burris, DE/OLB, San Diego State

14. Darius Fleming, OLB, Notre Dame

15. Adrian Robinson, DE/OLB, Temple

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