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Green Zone League Articles

2016 GZL Draft Player Spotlight | The LB Edition
By Corey Smith
Special to gzl-football.com

 photo CJ_Washington_zps54eb2c21.png
The Linebacker Edition
Corey Smith, GreenZone Media Committee
August 8th, 2013

**NOTE: Player ratings are subject to change over the course of the NCAA season! Nothing is final until the entire draft class is released.

MLB Rodney Kates | USC | 6’0” 231lbs
Breakdown: 85SPD, 73STR, 71AWR, 85AGI, 86ACC, 84TAK

There’s been no shortage of great LB’s that have come out of USC over the years, and Rodney Kates will tack on to that legacy. A Butkus Award finalist last year as a Sophomore, Kates is one of the captains of the Trojans defense that is ranked in the top 5 early in this CFB season. His play last season, coupled with his 11 tackles per game and 3 sacks so far this year have him on the Bednarik watch list as well.

Kates stands out on a defense at USC that is loaded with stars. He is a little on the smallish side for an MLB, but more than makes up for it with his athletic ability and football smarts. This kid is ready to contribute from day one.

Potential Comparison: Hugh Harmon | Dolphins
Initial Grade: Top 10 Pick

OLB Jorge Mays | UCLA | 6’0” 244lbs
Breakdown: 87SPD, 75STR, 66AWR, 83AGI, 86ACC, 72TAK

Across town from Kates there is another standout LB, Jorge Mays. Mays and Kates may forever be linked together, as they have been a part of teams that have battled against each other dating back to pop warner. Mays has left his mark at UCLA for his ability to stifle a passing game, whether it be in coverage, or getting after the QB.

Mays is an excellent blend of size, power, speed, and quickness and must be accounted for at all times by the offense. His glaring weak spot, as of now, is his shaky open field tackling ability. He doesn’t use great technique, and often has his tackles shaken off. Shouldn’t cause too much of a ding on his draft stock, though.

Potential Comparison: Barkevious Mingo | Packers
Initial Grade: Top 15 Pick

OLB Larry Pittman | USC | 6’2” 241lbs
Breakdown: 84SPD, 74STR, 59AWR, 85AGI, 88ACC, 76TAK

Staying in Southern California, Larry Pittman tandems with Rodney Kates at USC to form the best LB duo that the PAC12 has seen in a while. Pittman is a physical specimen that is, at times, overly aggressive on the football field. Larry is the sort of player that you love if you’re on his team, or a fan of his team, but can’t stand if you’re aligned with the opposing team.

Pittman’s size is perfectly suited for the GZL, and his ability to close on ball carriers is bordering on ridiculous. He’s expected to go fairly high, like his SoCal buddies.

Potential Comparison: Akeem Jordan | Jaguars
Initial Grade: Top 15 Pick

OLB Oliver Nixon | Temple | 6’4” 251lbs
Breakdown: 84SPD, 79STR, 65AWR, 82AGI, 85ACC, 77TAK

After coming out of High School as a 6’1”, 215lb scrawny LB-SS tweener, Oliver Nixon blossomed into a 6’4” 247lb DE-LB that has terrorized the Big East for the past couple of seasons. The coaches at Temple have used Nixon in a variety of ways on defense, including as a 3-4 OLB and a DE in nickel sets at times.

Nixon will present his new GZL team with a choice of whether he should have the title of OLB or DE, but in reality, he’ll be able to play either one throughout his career. That versatility could possibly drive his stock through the rough, and possibly help him leap-frog some of his classmates.

Potential Comparison: Clay Matthews | Packers
Initial Grade: Top 20 Pick

MLB Ed Holliday | Akron | 6’4” 254lbs
Breakdown: 82SPD, 78STR, 69AWR, 80AGI, 86ACC, 87TAK

The Big ‘ol LB that you don’t see too often any more, Ed Holliday is an intimidating presence for offenses when he patrols the middle of his team’s front seven. Ed signed with Ohio State University out of high school, but his grades caused him to have to leave school after his 1st year. After a season at a Junior College in California, he ended up in his hometown at Akron.

Holliday doesn’t really have elite athleticism, or strength. But he has great size, is a great tackler, and has a fairly high football IQ. His size alone will interest GZL scouts.

Potential Comparison: Brian Urlacher (young version) | Bears
Initial Grade: Late 1st

Check back next week for the next position group!

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