2013 College Football Preview: Outside Linebackers & The Jets

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our preview ahead of the college football season, with a selection of outside linebackers you may want to watch ahead of the 2014 NFL draft.

When Mark Sanchez's Butt Fumble 2.0 is the most important story of the week for Jets fans, you know it is the dark days of the football calendar. Luckily we haven't got long to wait until we'll be ranting and raving and more than likely complaining about the Jets on-field performance.

As with the wide receivers article I did a week or two back, it seems as though the Jets always go into the draft needing an OLB, and they never address the position. This year we are looking to Coples to be that man coming from the outside linebacking position to put pressure on the QB. I hope it works, however even if it does - I still think we need some talent at this position. So lets look at some of the players at the top of the draft.

As always with pre-season previews, positional rankings are likely to change significantly before the end of the season. However these are my initial must-watch prospects going into the 2013 college football season.

Anthony Barr has to be the main man to watch this season. The UCLA outside linebacker was one of the best players in the country last year and he ended the year with 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss. It was his first year as an outside linebacker after transitioning from the running back position. The first question is of course the most important, was this a one year fluke or can he do it again. He'll be targeted in 2013 and he'll need to show that he can consistently get to the quarterback and make plays in the back field. He's long, lean with good acceleration, good recognition and excellent vision. He is a sound tackler who has deceptive strength to go with his speed. I happen to think he'll have a massive year and end up being one of the most highly regarded prospects coming out of college in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Jackson Jeffcoat is an interesting player, he plays both DE and as a standup pass rusher in Manny Diaz's defense at Texas and he was one of the most impressive players on defense last year with 8 sacks, 71 tackles and 21 tackles for a loss. Will he project as a 4-3 defensive end (likely) or will he stand up at the NFL level. Jeffcoat can be inconsistent and he'll need to do a better job of disengaging from blockers if he wants to go high in round one. However he does have that natural pass rusher ability that a lot of teams will fall for. With no Okafor this year, he may draw extra attention.

C.J Mosley is an interesting prospect in Alabama as he has the skillset to play outside, however he mainly plays inside in the 3-4 that Alabama runs. He does shift outside on occasions, so he adds both talent and versatility and in the NFL, that is extremely valuable. Christian Jones from Florida State has a rare combination of speed and power and his NFL potential is sky high, if he can stay consistent in 2013 he'll be in 1st round consideration. Kyle Van Noy finished 2012 with 13 sacks and he is extremely aggressive off the edge, hits the line with power and breaks through to disrupt the play.

Trent Murphy from Stanford is a very intelligent player who just finds the football, a great nose and is very active, possesses excellent hands. Adrian Hubbard from Alabama is another player well worth watching. Ryan Shazier is another prospect that will be interesting to watch. He is one of the most active linebackers in the country and that showed with his 115 tackle 2012 season. He had 5 sacks, and 19 tackles for a loss. However he may be the most rounded prospect as he also had 11 passes defended, so if you want a player who can drop into coverage as well as coming up to make a play, Shazier is the probably the guy you want on your team.

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