Green Bay Packers 2015 NFL Draft: Breaking down the outside linebacker prospects

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Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) runs away from UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Owamagbe Odighizuwa (94). Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Tier Two

7. Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA (6-3, 267)
8. Nate Orchard, Utah (6-3, 250)
9. Preston Smith, Mississippi State (6-5, 271)
10. Danielle Hunter, LSU (6-5, 252)
11. Lorenzo Mauldin, Louisville (6-4, 259)
12. Markus Golden, Missouri (6-2, 260)
13. Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington (6-2, 253)

The Skinny: This second group is an interesting mix of players. There is a lot of talent here, but also plenty of question marks.

Orchard and Kikaha were highly productive in college, each finishing in the top-two in the nation in sacks last year.

Utah Utes defensive end Nate Orchard (8). Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Orchard tallied 18.5 sacks last season and is a fun player to watch. However, because he’s not very fluid in space and may struggle dropping in coverage, he seems limited to a situational pass rusher role in the NFL.

Kikaha is in a similar boat. Despite his 19 sacks as a senior, he has limited athleticism and may be more of a third-down pass rusher at the next level. An extensive injury history also hurts his draft stock and will remove him from some team’s draft boards.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, UCLA’s Odighizuwa and LSU’s Danielle Hunter are freak athletes and possess all of the physical traits teams look for in 3-4 outside linebackers. However, both players didn’t make a lot of impact plays in college.

They’re both boom-or-bust prospects who will be taken in the early rounds because of their upside.

Although Smith may be a better fit as a defensive end in a 4-3 front, he is definitely athletic enough to rush from a two-point stance and play outside linebacker in the Packers scheme. He looks great on film and is a guy more people should be talking about going into the draft.

Mauldin and Golden are both underrated pass rushers who play with a ton of fire and will battle every down. Their motors never stop and they’ll use their hands well to scrap their way to the quarterback or battle through blocks to bring down the ball carrier.

Because of the depth of this class one of them might fall to Green Bay at the end of the third round.

They’re both tough, gritty players who are easy to like when you watch them on film. 

Next: Tier Three