Blog Entry

Position rankings: 4-3 outside linebackers

Posted on: July 6, 2010 12:08 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 12:19 pm

Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on 4-3 outside linebackers.

Josh Katzowitz’s top five

5. Geno Hayes, BuccaneersB. Cushing (US Presswire)

4. Julian Peterson, Lions

3. Daryl Smith, Jaguars

2. Lance Briggs, Bears

1. Brian Cushing, Texans

Last week, we talked about outside linebackers who play the 3-4. Now, it’s the 4-3 linebackers’ turn. Despite the fact he violated the steroids policy and won’t be around for the first four games of the Texans season – personally, I think the voters should have stripped away his NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award as well – Cushing was phenomenal last season. He’s extremely well-rounded – he can rush the passer, play the run and drop into coverage with aplomb – and he’ll be a great foundation for Houston in the years to come. Hopefully, his pituitary gland won’t give him any more problems in the future.

Briggs had another Pro Bowl season, but he missed too many tackles last year. He still plays with speed and strength and is still a top-notch OLB. Smith is coming off a career season (106 tackles) when Jacksonville experimented with a 3-4 scheme, but with the Jaguars going back to the 4-3 and moving Smith to the strong side, it’ll be interesting to see how the change affects him and whether he drops back into the 70-80 tackle range. Peterson is getting older and losing a step, but he’s still more than solid. I’m not sold fully on Hayes, but he had a nice season last year, and Tampa Bay expects big things in his third season.

I thought about adding Keith Bulluck – who’s 33 – but the fact he’s coming off an ACL surgery and that, you know, he hasn’t been claimed off the free agent market dampens my enthusiasm for him.

Andy Benoit's top five

5. Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings

4. David Hawthorne, Seattle Seahawks

3 Brian Cushing, Houston Texans

2. Lance Briggs, Chicago Bears

1. Jon Beason, Carolina Panthers

We’re in agreement on Cushing and Briggs. Cushing has been a star since day one. Of course, we’ll have to see how explosive he is now that he’s not juicing (presumably). Lance Briggs has terrific speed, plus he’s strong enough to play in traffic.

My guess is you’re considering Beason a 4-3 MLB. He’s been the best 4-3 MLB in the league the past few years, but it’s looking like the Panthers will foolishly slide him to the weak side to replace the injured Thomas Davis in 2010. I figure Beason will be a demon at weakside linebacker, too – it’s the position he played at Miami. If he’s a WLB in ’10, where do you rank him?

Hayes is up-and-coming, but he needs to learn to get off blocks before I consider him top five. Peterson has been a non-factor in Detroit, which is almost like being dead. Smith is just too plain for me. His tackle numbers were good in part because the players around him stunk. Put Smith next to a Ray Lewis or a Bart Scott and you’d never notice him again.

Regarding the guys rounding out my list…Greenway is a playmaker when he can trust those around him. He’s especially effective in coverage. I’m taking a risk by going with the undrafted Hawthorne, mainly because his NFL experience is at middle linebacker and it’s not a 100 percent guarantee he’ll even start ahead of Leroy Hill in Seattle this year. But I’ve seen enough of Hawthorne on film to feel comfortable here. Hawthorne is instinctive, nimble and punishing at the point of contact. He regularly infiltrated opponents’ backfields last season.

Josh’s rebuttal

You’re absolutely right on Beason. If he does move to the weak side – and it’s still not certain – he automatically moves to No. 2 on my list. I still like Cushing a little bit better, but that could change on next year’s list, because of the chemical questions you mentioned. Greenway, aside from his coverage skills, seems run of the mill to me, and it’s not clear whether Hawthorne, who had a breakout last season, will even start this year – depending on what happens with Leroy Hill. He’s almost the Omar Infante of your list.

Andy’s final word

I didn’t realize how few elite 4-3 OLB’s there are until we did this list. The best athletes used to be weakside linebackers. Now, they’re 3-4 outside linebackers. (Or, sometimes, strong safeties.)

(Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter | Kicker )

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 17, 2011 9:16 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 12:27 am

Position rankings: 4-3 outside linebackers

This type of submit used to be even more so very well specially designed, your money back . rrs known for a lots of powerful resources. In order to liked your entire professed style of offering this post.

Since: Mar 19, 2007
Posted on: July 8, 2010 10:17 am

Position rankings: 4-3 outside linebackers

Oh, and Anderson and Williams will be the outside LBs for the Panthers this year....they aren't going to move Beason....

Since: Mar 19, 2007
Posted on: July 8, 2010 10:14 am

Position rankings: 4-3 outside linebackers

How do you rank Beason #1 on your list if he moves to weakside, but not even mention him in your middle linebacker discussion....just sayin'....

Since: Jan 29, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2010 9:08 pm

Position rankings: 4-3 outside linebackers

same thing as saying take away the heisman from bush since he cheated when at usc. the door swings both ways....

Since: Jul 2, 2010
Posted on: July 7, 2010 11:35 am

NFL Higher Ups Weigh in on Cushing

"One NFL general manager, requesting anonymity, offered this scorching view: "We did our research on him before the draft last year and we concluded he was a chronic steroid user dating back to high school. More than a few people were surprised when he passed the steroid tests at the combine. I think the guy became a pro at masking it, until he was caught. I definitely would have taken my vote back on that award if I had one."

I think I will trust a guy who takes on the risk of millions of dollar each year over anyone on this board. They do their research and he seems pretty positive that Cushing did steroids.

Since: Jul 2, 2010
Posted on: July 7, 2010 11:30 am

Texan Fans: Stop Being Homer's

Brian Cushing wasn't caught from using steroids but he was caught for having a chemical in his system that is only found in females. That chemical is a known masking agent for steroids. Don't act like Cushing isn't on roids. Going into last years draft, a lot of teams said they suspected him of being on steroids. He's been thought to be on steroids since high school. One NFL GM came out and said he would bet his career on Cushing using steroids and because of that, his team completely scratched Cushing off their list of potential draft picks. This isn't current news. People have known Cushing is on roids for a long time.

Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: July 7, 2010 10:16 am

Position rankings: 4-3 outside linebackers

SaintFANINLV, exactly what I was going to say. Exactly what I was going to say. "This is their message", it's ok to cheat, you'll be rewarded for it. 

Since: Jul 7, 2010
Posted on: July 7, 2010 8:47 am

Position rankings: 4-3 outside linebackers

I agree that Beason is our MLB. But he himself said he was open to the move to Weakside. Which I believe would work out for the Panthers D. Let's face it the middle spot is easier to replace than the weakside.

Since: Mar 8, 2008
Posted on: July 7, 2010 12:55 am

Position rankings: 4-3 outside linebackers


he tested positive for elevated hcg. it is banned because it is tied to a masking agent. he was 1/1000th over the allowed level. you guys r just hating. quit being dramatic homos and leave doubt where it belongs. the kid could be innocen.

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