A2B™: Outside Linebackers

Have you been dying to know what athleticism looks like for outside linebackers? Do you crave unique insights on the 2016 outside linebacker prospects? Good news… We’ve got what you need. In this entry, we show how the A2B™ effectively characterizes 5 unique OLB Player Types and quantifies NFL potential based on athleticism. Our analyses showed that Overall Athleticism, Speed, and Size/Power/Explosion (SEP) were strong predictors of NFL performance in OLB prospects. While the 2016 OLB class has a few excellent prospects with regards to athleticism, as a whole, they are sub-par compared to past years.

Development of the A2B™ for OLBs

The A2B™ classifies outside linebackers into 5 Player Types based on their athletic profiles.


Exceptional Athleticism: Without question, this is the premier OLB Player Type. These OLBs have amazing athleticism and great NFL potential. Some examples of this OLB Player Type are Von Miller, Derrick Johnson, and DeMarcus Ware.
Big Strong: As the name suggests, these OLBs are big and strong – see the high Strength and SEP scores above. There are a few successful linebackers falling in this category (Brian Urlacher), but generally these players have average NFL potential.
Balanced: This is, by far, the most common OLB Player Type and these second-tier OLB athletes are pretty much average across the board. Given the large number of players falling in this Player Type, it is not surprising that there have been a few notable Balanced OLBs such as Bruce Irvin and Brian Cushing. However, these players are exceptions rather than the norm.
Limited Athleticism/Speed: These outside linebackers possess limited Athleticism/Speed and are not well-suited for the NFL. There is not a single notable OLB falling in the group since 2000.
Low Athleticism: See above. Not good qualities for NFL OLBs. 

Some free advice from me to you: Grab the Exceptional Athleticism OLBs. If you have to pick from the Big Strong or Balanced OLBs, get players with better Speed, Overall Athleticism, and SEP (in that order).

The majority of OLBs have been the Balanced Player Type…


Some Context

Take a look some top A2B™ NFL Potential Scores for current OLBs in the NFL – the majority are the Exceptional Athleticism Player Type…


The A2B™ predicts all sorts of real NFL outcomes, including NFL career length…


2016 Outside Linebackers


  • The 2016 class of outside linebacker is primarily Balanced OLBs – not a surprise.
  • There are also a few of the top-tier Exceptional Athletes and lower-tier Limited Athleticism/Speed OLBs.


Let’s take a look at the A2Bs for few highly regarded 2016 OLBs (projected to go in the first 2-3 rounds).


A few quick insights about these top OLB prospects.

  • Darron Lee and Leonard Floyd are highly-ranked by experts and have exceptional A2 This should give teams more confidence when selecting them.
  • Kyler Fackrell and Deion Jones are Balanced OLBs with more average A2
  • Su’a Cravens did not participate in several combine events but, based on the available data, he appears sub-par athletically (in the bottom 25% of OLBs historically). This is a red flag and teams should consider looking more closely at his tape/intangibles before selecting.
  • Although his A2Bs are not displayed here, a potential “sleeper” prospect is Stephen Weatherly from Vanderbilt. He is Big Strong OLB type with an NFL Potential score of 75. Despite his excellent A2Bs, Weatherly is not very highly ranked by experts (projected between rounds 4-6). He could provide a team with excellent value.


That wraps up the outside linebacker position. Tune in next week for tight ends.