Draft Dose: Who needs an outside linebacker?

Posted April 22, 2011 @ 12:52 p.m.
Posted By Alex Mayster

A lot is expected out of an outside linebacker. At any given time, a player at that position could be asked to rush the passer, play the run or drop back into coverage. Specific strengths are sought after depending on team-specific schemes, but a complete outside ’backer will fit in any system.

There appears to be only one elite OLB prospect in this year's class, with a major drop-off once Texas A&M's Von Miller comes off the board early in the first round. In the 30th installment of the Draft Dose series, PFW takes a look at 10 teams with a need at the OLB spot. (Teams are listed in alphabetical order):

Bills

Buffalo's weak pass rush played a major role in the team's struggles last season. The Bills picked up Shawne Merriman, but injuries have prevented him from putting together a productive season since 2007.

Broncos

Robert Ayers is expected to become a defensive end in Denver's new 4-3 scheme, as will Elvis Dumervil, who missed last season with a torn pectoral muscle. D.J. Williams will jump to the weak side, but the strong side remains open. 

Cardinals

OLBs Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are both 34 years old and past their primes. Arizona would like to get younger at the position.

Chargers

Shaun Phillips is one of the top outside ’backers in the league, but San Diego is looking for a complement opposite him. Larry English has yet to live up to his potential.

49ers

San Francisco is in need of a pass rusher. The team had a solid four-man rotation at outside linebacker last year but Manny Lawson and Travis LaBoy are both potential free agents.

Lions

Detroit went through a lot of bodies at the OLB position and could potentially add two linebackers if the right players are there when the Lions are on the clock.

Ravens

Baltimore is more than happy with Terrell Suggs, but could use another body to sub for Jarret Johnson on obvious passing downs. There are still question marks concerning Sergio Kindle, who missed all of his rookie season with a head injury.

Redskins

Lorenzo Alexander saw a lot of snaps a season ago but was not overly impressive. Washington could look to add another pass rusher to play opposite Brian Orakpo.

Saints

Danny Clark and Scott Shanle are both set to become unrestricted free agents and, although the Saints still have Jonathan Casillas, they could be looking for a more dynamic playmaker at the position

Texans

Houston will transition to a 3-4 scheme with Wade Phillips as coordinator. Connor Barwin is expected to fill one slot, but a major hole remains on the other side.