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L.A. Rams: Three OLB Prospects

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NCAA Football: Mississippi at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 3-4 defense new Los Angels Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips wants to run in 2017 will effect how this team has to allocate resources in the coming NFL Draft. Long a viewed weakness for the Rams over the past few seasons, position depth - at both inside and outside linebacker - looks alarmingly shy of being able to accomplish a scheme shift. Without a first round draft pick, general manager Les Snead will have to hit big on the 2nd and 3rd days of the draft to fill key defensive positions, let alone finding help for a woeful offense.

Shoving the offense aside for now, let’s take a look at a few outside linebackers who could be on the radar of NFL Teams. The odd thing is, all the teams picking at the top of the first round should have outside linebacker on their shopping lists. It may be just the way I think, but teams - especially from pick 20 onward in the 1st round - may very well cause a run on outside linebackers due to the teams picking at the top of the 2nd round. I can already hear Mel Kiper groan when an outside linebacker he rated lower mysteriously slides into the 1st round...

Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama - If there’s a linebacker in this draft who fits what Phillips needs most in his scheme, it may very well be Anderson. He’s gone mostly unnoticed by draft aficionados. Let’s face it, he isn’t going to be a “sexy, grab the headlines” pick. Finding diamonds in the rough is what the NFL Draft is all about, and its where teams turn from losers to winners.

Anderson played his part at Alabama, and I believe we haven’t seen just how talented this young man can be at the next level. A move to inside linebacker wouldn’t be a stretch, since Anderson’s football I.Q. runs high.

Draft round: Middle of the second round, to top of 15 picks of the 3rd round.

Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin - The redheaded step child to a guy named “Watt” on the Badger’s defense, he posted strong numbers throughout his college carrier. Whether crashing of the edge, dropping in coverage, or playing the run, he showed me talents worth paying attention to at the next level. A foot injury has a small red flag on him with a few NFL teams, but this young guy absolutely “LOVES” the game of football.

This is a Bill Belichick kind of player through and through. Smart, with high leadership credentials, even if he ends up being a special teams star, he’s the kind of position depth any team should covet...

Draft Round: Middle of the 5th round floor, with a ceiling in the lower half of the 3rd round if he impresses on team visits.

Jarrad Davis, OLB/ILB, Florida - Again, Davis has the kind of talent to shift from outside, to inside. This is an attribute coveted by most coaches, simply due to being able to stretch game-planning into personnel scheming at a finer level. For the Rams, Davis may very well be the guy they go after, but it’ll have to be in the second round. Depending how the first day shakes out, Davis could wind up sneaking into the end of 1st round if there’s a run at the position. Look for the New York Giants or Pittsburgh Steelers to have Davis on their radar...

Draft Round - Anywhere from last few picks in the 1st round, to the top of the 3rd round if rumor gnomes find something to babble about on draft day...

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There’s a rather impressive talent pool at outside linebacker in the 2017 Draft Class. NFL teams could take a gamble - and wait until later round to select at this position - but I’d warn against it. Teams need to shop “fit” more than ever, and not just college film. The outside linebackers I’ve been studying have more defined skill sets than I’ve seen in quite some time. This isn’t the time to be try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Timing will be everything in the 2017 NFL Draft, especially when it comes to finding an outside linebacker...