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OLB in the 2008 Draft: Round 2/3

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Posted 04-03-2008 at 10:11 PM by hagan714
Updated 06-12-2008 at 07:17 AM by hagan714

8. Ezra Butler, Nevada, 6016, 240, 4.51

Butler has excellent size with long arms, well built and Very fast for a linebacker. He hasn't really been used as a classic outside linebacker, as the "Bandit" position he played is more like a 5-tech rush end. He is agile and moves well and has quick change of direction, moves well in traffic. Butler plays sideline to sideline and can really get after it when he is engaged. He closes quickly on ball carriers and very explosive when he gets into the offensive backfield. Big hitter. Physical, aggressive and plays with a mean streak. He will truly deliver a cannon-type blow. Does his best work in attack mode. Good build for LB duties, thick legs and wide frame. A terrific pass rusher. He can run with any tight end and most receivers and possesses good hands for interceptions. He gets a good deep drops on zone coverage. Plays with a nasty edge and having a good team around him will only make him better. Great special teamer. He is more polished than some of the other OLB prospects on this draft class. 3 year starter.

Although big and strong, Butler seems to wear down when run at. Can be too aggressive at times. He must avoid biting on play action fakes, because sometimes he tends to gamble. Gets reckless in his pursuit, out-running the play and then struggles to get back into the action. Needs to refine his technique. Needs to play with better leverage. Has some troubling shedding blocks needs to use his hands better and relies too much on his speed as a pass rusher. Tries to over-power blockers rather than slip past or avoid. He is just average in coverage. He needs to get a quicker read on the quarterback in pass coverage and show better awareness to handle switch-off activity in zone coverage.doesn't always play up to his measurable.

Butler is the kind of athlete who can change a game around and made difference-making plays. Has all the physical tools you look for and could be a fit for either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme at the pro level. Workout Warrior with a lot of potential

Violation of team policies resulted in a one-game suspension in 2007

9. Ali Highsmith, L.S.U., 5116, 230, 4.70 (MLB/OLB)

Highsmith does the one thing all NFL scouts love -- he finds a way to get to the ball. Also, scouts love his versatility, with him capable of filling any linebacker role. His leadership skills also enhance his value. He's able to go sideline to sideline and is a very solid player in coverage. He shows good hip flip in coverage and has the burst to break on the ball. He shows a good understanding of the offense and knows where he should be. As a tackler, he shows good effort and form, and delivers a surprising pop.Solid blitzer and pass rusher. Real active and has a non-stop motor. Good leader. Excellent special teamer.

His lack of size and straight line speed will be a concern, since he has trouble at times getting off blocks. Highsmith is often overpowered by offensive linemen and even fullbacks and tight ends. He will need to get stronger. If they can get into his body, he's washed out of the play too easily. Has trouble taking on and shedding blockers. His best asset, unbounded aggression, can also work against him at times. He needs to be more disciplined. Highsmith sometimes runs himself right out of the play, taking poor angles and leaving his feet to dive at the ball carrier. He'll also fall for misdirection and play action, counting too heavily on his athleticism to allow him to recover. His reaction to the ball is a little slow. Marginal instincts and he is often late to react.

Most scouts expect him to thrive as a weak side linebacker. Classic weak side prospect who is equally effective against the run as well as in coverage and could excel in the right. Might be best suited for a scheme like the Colts or Bucs employ.

10. Marcus Howard, Georgia, 6005, 237, 4.40 (OLB/DE)

Marcus Howard stepped into the pass-rushing end role that was previously occupied by Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses and delivered in a big way in 2007. He was among the national leaders in sacks with 10.5 on the season. He also was able to create turnovers as he forced three fumbles and recovered one. Howard is an undersized rush end who shows great ability to rush the QB. A former LB, he's explosive off the snap and is often clearing the offensive tackle before he's even able to set up. He has the speed to gain the edge and shows good balance while dropping his shoulder to turn the corner and avoid the blocker. He also uses his hands well. He has the speed for pursuit and is able to get down the line quickly. A reliable tackler. Has fluid hips to turn and run in coverage. ...Nice special teams potential.

Howard is a DE trapped in the body of a LB. He's a pass-rusher, pure and simple. He possesses a good burst and rare straight-line speed, but he doesn't change direction very well and is easily fooled by misdirection. Howard doesn't seem to show the instincts needed to play LB. Can be physically manhandled and isn't very stout at the point and is a liability against the run .He wasn't asked to drop into coverage much at Georgia. One-Dimensional

It is hard to define exactly how he'll fit in at the next level (3-4 OLB? 4-3 OLB? 4-3 DE?) but there will always be room for a top pass rusher with his type of elite speed and athleticism. Howard will have to become a one-down pass-rush specialist and special teams demon.

11. Gary Guyton, Georgia Tech, 6016, 245, 4.47

Veteran outside linebacker with experience at the weak-side and strong-side positions, Guyton lacks eye-popping athleticism but has the size and strength teams are looking for. Guyton remains a bit raw, but has the physical tools and showed improvement as a senior when moved to the weak side.Gary has good size with a solid frame and with room for additional growth. Good size and strength to come up and fill lanes as a run-stuffer. Hard hitter and can play hard at times. Looks for the big hit. More quick than fast and has a burst to close. Long arms and strong hands are used well to supply a pop to blockers and disengage. Shows some burst as blitzer. He is a very good athlete that can run with backs a break back into coverage to cover the pass. Versatile. Switched to weak-side linebacker as a senior and improved as the season wore on. An excellent special teamer. Smart with solid intangibles

Gary has only marginal instincts for the position. Inconsistent. Does not have great instincts or awareness and he can be slow to react. Needs to get stronger, does not fight of blocks well. He lacks fluid hips and struggles in coverage. Lacks great overall athleticism and is more of a straight-line player who plays pretty stiff in coverage. Isn't the physically intimidating player his size would indicate.

Should at the very least be a nice backup...Could surprise.
Posted in 2008 NFL Draft
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