This is a tough position to rank. Outside linebackers can be defensive ends and vice versa, nowadays. Because of that, you may want to toggle to the Defensive End rankings to see if your pass rusher of choice is listed there, rather than on this page.
Regardless, you can pretty much read similar views on the backers/ends based on the fact that there’s a big need for pass rushers every year in the NFL Draft.
Have a peek at our Top 10 NFL Draft Rankings for outside linebackers
1. Alvin “Bud” Dupree (Kentucky)
This is the guy that everyone has fallen in love with. Dupree could make his way into the Top 10 with enough hype, but a definite first round talent with Dupree here. He’s a freak athlete with great speed around the edge. His instincts could use some work, but he’s hard not to enjoy watching.
2. Hauoli Kikaha (Washington)
If Kikaha wants to make the full transition to 34 outside linebacker, he’ll need to be more consistent in space. But from a physical standpoint, you have to love the kid. He does excellent work with his violent hands and is a force around the edge.
3. Lorenzo Mauldin (Louisville)
More of a cerebral player, what Mauldin lacks in physical tools, he makes up for with a high football IQ. He’s a force against the run and has the ability to change directions to make inside moves to the quarterback.
4. Shaq Thompson (Washington)
Thompson’s lack of a true position is still a concern as he’s just 6’0 228 but doesn’t quite have safety speed. He could be the next great 43 weakside backer a la a Lance Briggs type at the next level. There’s a lot of upside and a great defensive coordinator will utilize his correctly.
5. Kwon Alexander (LSU)
Like Thompson, Alexander likes the ideal size to play linebacker in the NFL. He’s got a great combination of speed and quickness playing the position, but he lacks on the physical end. Lacks the technique that Shaq Thompson has putting him a notch below.
6. Jake Ryan (Michigan)
As a B1G fan, I’ve enjoyed watching Ryan. He’s the hustle guy who is always at the bottom of the pile. He’s got good size, albeit not much room to grow, but what he lacks is the defensive awareness to play from day one at the next level. Get him on special teams and work on that defensive IQ and we have a quality 43 linebacker for years.
7. Nate Orchard (Utah)
A bit of a one-hit-wonder, Orchard is still a bit raw to translate immediately into the NFL. That being said, his physical tools are all above average and he has the natural instincts to become a key pass rusher in the early future. But his lack of toughness and ability to set the edge really sets him back.
8. Zach Hodges (Harvard)
It’s not often you see a kid from Harvard on a Top 250, let alone a positional Top 10. Hodges has a good frame set up and a lot of athleticism to help someone at the next level. He’s a bit of a project and played in the Ivy League, but he has done some great work.
9. Xzavier Dickson (Alabama)
Dickson stood out playing for the Crimson Tide a bit early on, but he went from a rising star to simply a role player on a tough Alabama defense. His productivity was there, but his pass rush got knocked out of the games and he just never was a factor against the run. There’s upside here, though, with his collegiate roots and frame.
10. Geneo Grissom (Oklahoma)
A guy with a ton of upside, Grissom isn’t a fluid athlete by any means, but he’s a smart player with a good build and solid intangibles. He won’t chase anyone down, but he could be a solid situational linebacker at the next level.