Arden Key*, 3-4OLB, LSU
Height: 6-5. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 2/3/18: Team sources think Key has high first-round talent and that he could be a devastating pass-rusher in the NFL. In a survey of league sources, Key was considered to be among the elite talents of this draft class. However, teams have major off-the-field concerns with Key and think they could cause him to slide in the 2018 NFL Draft. Key's off-the-field issues are similar to Randy Gregory or Tim Williams. While there are concerns, scouts also say that Key loves football and has worked on his own with pass-rushing guru Chuck Smith to develop his skills. Key has to interview extremely well in order to be a high pick.
Key had a slow start to the 2017 season. He missed two games and had to work himself back into playing shape after shoulder surgery limited his offseason training. Midway through the year, Key started to return to being a dynamic speed rusher off the edge. A late-season knee injury also knocked him out of a few games. In 2017, Key totaled 33 tackles with four sacks and a forced fumble. He put together impressive games against Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida. Key made a sack to clinch the comeback win over Auburn. He was phenomenal against Alabama, and the Crimson Tide couldn't block him.
9/1/17: Key was one of the best players in college football in 2016. He recorded 56 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up on the year. He flashed a ton of potential as a freshman for LSU, totaling 41 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, five sacks and one pass broken up. Key is a dangerous pass-rusher with excellent speed and the ability to bend around the corner. He is lightning fast off the edge and has a ton of upside to develop.
Marcus Davenport, 3-4OLB, UTSA
Height: 6-5. Weight: 259. Arm: 34. Hand: 9. Projected 40 Time: 4.77. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 2/3/18: Davenport is another prospect from a non-Power Five FBS school who earned a Senior Bowl invitation. In Mobile, Davenport put his impressive skill set on display with the speed to rush the passer off the edge, plus functional strength and length. He did have some lowlights though and needs to learn more pass-rushing moves for the NFL because he is too dependent on speed or bull rushes. Considering his level of competition, it isn't surprising that Davenport is raw. However, he clearly has the length and athleticism to play on the edge in the NFL. The senior totaled 55 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles in 2017. Davenport recorded 6.5 sacks as a junior after racking up four as a sophomore.
Edge defenders with length are always in demand, so even though Davenport needs development he could be a first-rounder. Scouts from multiple teams have told me that Davenport is a good player and impressed them in 2017, but they thought a top-16 pick is too high for him. They think the back half of the first round is possible.
Sam Hubbard, 3-4OLB, Ohio State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 266. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 2/3/18: In 2017, Hubbard collected 43 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. He had good moments, but still didn't always play up to his great skill set and wasn't consistent enough.
9/1/17: In 2016, Hubbard collected 46 tackles with eight for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes batted. While rotating into the game as a sophomore, he showed his potential with 6.5 sacks. Hubbard also had 28 tackles with an interception. The senior could explode in 2017 as he has an early round skill set. Hubbard has a lot of physical talent, but he hasn't produced up to it. He could rise high if that changes as a senior.
Harold Landry, 3-4OLB, Boston College
Height: 6-3. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.67. Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 2/3/18: Multiple teams sources told me that Landry belongs on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft. They labeled his senior year tape was not impressive. Landry had a big drop in his pass-rush production year over year and put together some ugly games in run defense. Sources say that Landry is smaller than his listed numbers of 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, too. They believe he is an inch or two shorter and weighs in the 240s, which makes him more of a linebacker's body type for the NFL. Teams that run a 4-3 defense have concerns about Landry holding up on the edge as he is very undersized to be a base end. More than one NFL source sees Landry as a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
In 2017, Landry had 38 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. The senior missed a few games with an ankle injury late in the year.
Landry was a liability versus the run against the Fighting Irish, recording only one tackle while Notre Dame ran for seven touchdowns and had two players exceed 200 yards rushing. On the vast majority of his plays, Landry went against a freshman right tackle, yet was ineffective. Landry also lost his few reps against Mike McGlinchey, plus got rag dolled by Quenton Nelson. It was an ugly performance for Landry. He was slightly better against Clemson.
9/1/17: Landry had an impressive junior season as an edge rusher for Boston College, recording 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, four passes batted and 51 tackles. He contributed as a sophomore with 60 stops, and 4.5 sacks. Landry could fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. A general manager told me they thought Landry would have been a late first- or second-round pick if he had entered the 2017 NFL Draft.
Dorance Armstrong Jr.*, 3-4OLB, Kansas
Height: 6-4. Weight: 241. Projected 40 Time: 4.60. Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 2/3/18: Armstrong has an excellent skill set, but it was hard for him to illustrate in 2017 because the team around him was so bad. Opponents were able neutralize him with double teams and plays going away from him while taking advantage of the lack of talent elsewhere on the Kansas defense. As a result, Armstrong may be more of a second-day talent for the 2018 NFL Draft. In 2017, Armstrong totaled 63 tackles with 9.5 for a loss, two sacks, four forced fumbles and four passes batted. He is a fast edge defender with very good athleticism.
9/1/17: In 2016 as a sophomore, Armstrong had some serious production with 10 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, 56 tackles and three forced fumbles while being a First-Team All-Big XII selection. One general manager told me that they think Armstrong is a stud and can't see him staying for his senior year in 2018. They said that Armstrong could be on a par or better than Boston College senior edge rusher Harold Landry. That general manager thought Landry would have been a late first- or second-round pick if he had entered the 2017 NFL Draft.
Lorenzo Carter, 3-4OLB, Georgia
Height: 6-6. Weight: 242. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 2/3/18: Carter was improved as a senior while starting to play up to his athletic potential. He showed dangerous edge-rushing skills against Notre Dame and made a lot of big plays to help the Bulldogs win in South Bend. In 2017, Carter had 57 tackles with 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and 7.5 tackles for a loss. Sources say they are giving Carter third- or fourth-round grades, although the team that likes him enough to draft him could take him earlier.
9/1/17: Carter has flashed during is career at Georgia, yet hasn't put everything together in one season yet. Perhaps that will happen as a senior. He started out his career with 4.5 sacks as a freshman to go with 41 tackles. Carter was quiet during his sophomore year with 19 tackles and zero sacks. In 2016, he recorded 44 tackles with five sacks and two forced fumbles. Carter came on late lsat season, so perhaps he will have a big senior year. Carter has a nice skill set with speed, athleticism and length.
Chad Thomas, 3-4OLB, Miami
Height: 6-5. Weight: 277. Arm: 34. Hand: 10.38. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 2/3/18: Thomas totaled 30 tackles with 8.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2017. Sources tell me that Thomas is really talented physically, but he never put it all together on the field. There were flashes of excellence and stretches of doing nothing while looking clueless. They say that Thomas lacks instincts as well. However because of his great skill set, grades are going to be all over the board on Thomas. Teams also wonder how long Thomas will want to play in the NFL as he is known as a star DJ in the Miami area with a future as a music producer.
9/1/17: Thomas has flashed at times for Miami over the past couple of seasons. In 2016, he collected 37 tackles with 11 for a loss, four sacks and three passes broken up. He had 18 tackles with a sack, four passes batted and one forced fumble in 2015.
Josh Sweat*, 3-4OLB, Florida State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 250. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 2/3/18: Sweat was solid in 2017 with some good performances and some quiet games. He had 56 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and three passes batted on the year. One positive for Sweat was staying on the field and avoiding injury. Sweat decided to skip his senior year to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.
9/1/17: Sweat has a lot of talent and was starting to flash as a sophomore in 2016. He had seven sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 41 tackles and one forced fumble on the year. Sources say that Sweat has a first-round skill set and could explode as a junior.
Sweat comes with major durability concerns, however. He still has instability in a few locations in his knee from an injury he suffered early in his senior year of high school. Sources say Florida State has tried a variety of methods to rehab the knee, which hasn't responded. Because he could have his NFL career limited to one contract, sources say they hear that Sweat is going to skip his senior year and enter the 2018 NFL Draft. The knee injury could cause him to slide even though he has Thursday-night edge-rushing talent.
Uchenna Nwosu, 3-4OLB, USC
Height: 6-2. Weight: 245. Arm: 33.5. Hand: 9.25. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2018): 3-4. 2/3/18: Nwosu enjoyed a good 2017 season for the Trojans to help his draft stock. On the year, he had 75 tackles with 11.5 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, one interception and 13 passes broken up.
Nwosu is a pursuit outside linebacker for the NFL. He has some speed and athleticism off the edge. In the ground game and in the pass rush, Nwosu can struggle with the length and strength of offensive tackles, leading to him getting covered up. Nwosu would fit best as a a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, 3-4OLB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-1. Weight: 243. Arm: 34.5. Hand: 9.25. Projected 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 2/3/18: In 2017, Okoronkwo racked up eight sacks with 76 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss, two passes batted and three forced fumbles. He was a leading defender for the Sooners and received a lot of media hype.
In speaking with a director of college scouting, they say they think that Okoronkwo is fast and explosive to rush the passer, but is tight. He gets covered by length and mass on the edge with offensive tackles, and that will be a bigger issue in the NFL. They think that Okoronkwo could be a hybrid inside and outside linebacker for the NFL. They gave him a fourth- to fifth-round grade for the 2018 NFL Draft.
9/1/17: Okoronkwo was a dangerous edge defender for the Sooners in 2016. The juniot totaled 71 tackles with 12 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, three passes batted and two forced fumbles. It was a breakout season after serving as a backup in the previous seasons.
Marcell Frazier, 3-4OLB, Missouri
Height: 6-5. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.74. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 2/3/18: Frazier put together 40 tackles with seven sacks, 15.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and five passes broken up in 2017. He had a slow start to the year before playing better midway through the year and closing out the season well. Sources say that Frazier's development was hurt by Missouri losing star defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski to Miami.
Frazier had a solid week at the East-West Shrine. He did well as a speed rusher, but showed that he struggles in the run game. Frazier needs to get stronger and improve his run defense.
9/1/17: Missouri has been a factory for NFL defensive line talent in recent years. With Charles Harris on the other side, Frazier was able to do some damage in 2016. The junior came on strong at the end of the season. On the year, Frazier notched 7.5 sacks with 33 tackles. He had two sacks as a backup in 2015. Frazier could be poised for a big 2017 season as it looked like the light came on for him late in the 2016 season.
James Hearns*, 3-4OLB, Louisville
Height: 6-3. Weight: 249. Projected 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 2/3/18: Hearns had 42 tackles with 13.5 for a loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and three passes batted for 2017. He played well against Clemson after underwhelming against North Carolina. Hearns was very streaky and inconsistent in 2017.
4/24/17: Sources say that Hearns is a bigger version of Devonte Fields. They say that Hearns is loose, limber, quick and fast to close. He needs to be more consistent, but his pass rush talent is developed. In 2016, Hearns totaled 42 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, two passes batted and five forced fumbles. Hearns could produce a big 2017 season.
Marquis Haynes, 3-4OLB, Ole Miss
Height: 6-2. Weight: 233. Arm: 33. Hand: 9.88. Projected 40 Time: 4.64. Projected Round (2018): 4-6. 2/3/18: Haynes totaled 45 tackles with 11 for a loss, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2017. The senior is a limited role player for the NFL as a designated pass-rusher - DPR. Sources say that Haynes isn't the fastest of learners, so switching to traditional outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense is not being projected for him. Additionally, they note that he is extremely thin.
Scouts like Haynes' natural edge-rush ability and think he could be a contributor as a DPR. Teams were disappointed in his effort at times during 2017, and there was talk around Ole Miss that an agent got to Haynes and pushed on him not to get hurt. Thus, Haynes took his foot off the pedal in a lot of games, which resulted in him not looking good. Sources are valuing Haynes for the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft.
9/1/17: As a junior, Haynes played well and illustrated that he can be a difference-maker as a situational defender. In 2016, Haynes had 53 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, three passes batted, one interception and seven sacks. His sophomore season was even better with 43 tackles, 16.5 for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes batted. He recorded 31 tackles with nine tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks as a freshman.
Haynes is fast off the edge and has some natural pass-rushing skills to him. He is a heat-seeking missile off the edge who is a natural pass-rusher. Haynes also has functional strength that was illustrated by bull rush sacks through Alabama's Cam Robinson and Florida State's Roderick Johnson in 2016.
However, Haynes is extremely undersized and will have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL. Even for that position, he will need to get stronger, but he has a real knack for producing sacks in the clutch and had an impact in Ole Miss beating Alabama in 2015. Haynes has to get better in run defense or he will just be a situational rusher in the NFL.
Ade Aruna, 3-4OLB, Tulane
Height: 6-4. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2018): 4-6. 2/3/18: Aruna put together 25 tackles with three tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2017.
9/1/17: Scouts going to fall camps during the preseason told me that Aruna is a sleeper prospect who could end up being a steal. Aruna is said to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.65-4.75-second range, which is very fast for a defensive end. He is only in his fifth year of organized football, however, and is considered to be super raw. Sources label him as a fast, explosive athlete who is still harnessing his talent and learning the game. In 2016 as a junior, Aruna totaled 43 tackles with 10 for a loss, five sacks and one forced fumble for the Green Wave. Sources say that the senior has the frame to hold 280 pounds and could be a 4-3 open-edge defensive end.
Davin Bellamy, 3-4OLB, Georgia
Height: 6-5. Weight: 240. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2018): 4-6. 2/3/18: Bellamy really picked up his play as a senior and was very impressive against Notre Dame. He beat Fighting Irish left tackle Mike McGlinchey on a speed rush to get a strip-sack to close out Georgia's one-score victory late in the fourth quarter. In 2017, Bellamy had 34 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three passes batted and two forced fumbles.
Sources say they're projecting Bellamy to Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft. They think Bellamy is a bit of a tweener and wonder if he can add weight to play defensive end in NFL. They also believe Bellamy is not all that impressive as pass-rusher.
9/1/17: Bellamy recorded 51 tackles with nine for a loss, five sacks and one pass batted as a junior. He had 33 tackles with three sacks, 5.5 tackles for a loss and one pass broken up in 2015.
Mike Love, 3-4OLB, South Florida
Height: 6-4. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.67. Projected Round (2018): 5-7. 2/3/18: Love and defensive tackle Bruce Hector were Bulls players who sources mentioned as sleeper prospects on the rise. They say that Love is going to ignite some third-day interest in the 2018 NFL Draft because he has enough size, a great motor and some quickness. Sources say that Love has disruptive spurts and has some experience standing up, so he has some scheme flexibility. In 2017, Love had 28 tackles with 11 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks and three passes broken up.
Justin Lawler, 3-4OLB, SMU
Height: 6-4. Weight: 265. Projected 40 Time: 4.97. Projected Round (2018): 6-FA. 2/3/18: Lawler didn't get a lot of media attention, but he had a solid week of practice at the East-West Shrine to help his draft stock. He found a way with quickness, technique, and effort to get wins in the pass-rushing one-on-ones, plus made his presence felt in the team scrimmage. In 2017, Lawler totaled 74 tackles with 15.5 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, two passes batted and two forced fumbles. He had 65 tackles as a junior and sophomore with six sacks in 2016 and five in 2015. Lawler could be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent who ends up exceeding expectations.
Kylie Fitts, 3-4OLB, Utah
Height: 6-3. Weight: 259. Arm: 32.38. Hand: 9.38. Projected 40 Time: 4.84. Projected Round (2018): 6-FA. 2/3/18: As a senior, Fitts collected 23 tackles with three sacks and a forced fumble. He missed the majority of the 2016 season with an injury. His best season came in 2015 when he had seven sacks with 41 tackles and 10 passes batted.
Kemoko Turay, 3-4OLB, Rutgers
Height: 6-4. Weight: 252. Arm: 33.63. Hand: 9.38. Projected 40 Time: 4.79. Projected Round (2018): 6-FA. 2/3/18: Turay had a solid week at the Senior Bowl, showing some ability to rush the passer off the edge. He was able to get some wins in the one-on-ones by using his speed to run by blockers. Turay will need to get stronger in the run game. In the early going of his NFL career, he could compete to earn a roster spot as a backup designated pass-rusher in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. In 2017, Turay totaled four sacks and 58 tackles.
Jacob Pugh, 3-4OLB, Florida State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 247. Projected 40 Time: 4.84. Projected Round (2018): 7-FA. 2/3/18: Pugh had 21 tackles and two passes batted in 2017.
9/1/17: In 2016, Pugh recorded 43 tackles with six for a loss, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He had 32 tackles with three sacks in 2015. Pugh snagged two interceptions as a freshman. There was some hype around Pugh, so perhaps he will validate it in 2017.
Andrew Trumbetti, 3-4OLB, Notre Dame
Height: 6-3. Weight: 260. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2018): 7-FA. 2/3/18: In 2017, Trumbetti recorded 28 tackles with four for a loss and .5 sacks.
9/1/17: Trumbetti had 25 tackles with zero sacks as a junior. He notched 35 tackles and two sacks over the previous two seasons.
Walter Brady, 3-4OLB, Middle Tennessee
Height: 6-3. Weight: 255. Projected 40 Time: 4.75. Projected Round (2018): 7-FA. 2/3/18: Brady notched 38 tackles with 3.5 sacks and four passes batted in 2017.
9/1/17: In 2015 at Missouri, Brady led all FBS freshman players with seven sacks. The Tigers kicked him off the team prior to the 2016 season. It will be interesting to see if Brady can get back on track at Middle Tennessee State.