Just because the New York Giants recently traded for linebacker Keith Rivers, it would be silly to think the linebacker position is completely off the table when it comes to what the Giants might do in the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft.
Let's use today's 2012 NFL Draft Prospect Profile on a player who appears to have second-day value in the upcoming drat, Oklahoma outside linebacker Ronnell Lewis.
Draft expert Chris Steuber has the Giants taking Lewis in the second round, 63rd overall in his latest three-round mock draft. Lewis has played more defensive end than linebacker, and might be the kind of player who could take a while to develop. We all know that Giants GM Jerry Reese does not shy away from those type of long-term draft selections, so let's take a closer look at Lewis.
Possesses an impressive physical/athletic skill set, a "plus" motor and a real passion for the game. I don't think he's ever going to be a top end pass rusher in the NFL. However, as a 6-8 sack guy long term who can help out on special teams and give you all he has play in and play out, I think he warrants a second round type grade.
NFL.com sees Lewis as a bit more of a project, and a likely mid-round selection.
Lewis is an early-entry junior who will likely be moved back to his more natural position of outside linebacker. He played defensive end his last two years, and his frame bodes well for a move. He was a productive player for the Sooners who could even make the extreme jump from end to outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, considering that rushing the passer is not a key asset in his arsenal. He has fourth- or fifth-round value and should make early contributions on special teams.
Sideline Scouting says:
Positives -- Has an excellent frame for the linebacker position, has good bulk and very impressive upper body strength, put up 36 reps of 225 lbs. at the combine... Is an extremely violent hitter, makes contact with a lot of explosiveness, can deliver the knockout blow and jar the football loose... Is a hard worker and good character guy, plays with a lot of heart and intensity... Can be a valuable special teams performer in the NFL, played a lot of special teams at Oklahoma, very good on kick coverage... Has experience at both defensive end and outside linebacker, versatility will be a big plus for a lot of teams employing hybrid systems, although Lewis seems more adept at the OLB position.
Negatives -- Injuries have plagued Lewis throughout his career, including a knee injury two seasons ago... Is still a very raw player, needs some experience under his belt to refine his game, instincts are a little below average... Not much of a pass defender, lacks hip flexibility and fluidity in coverage, will not be able to hold up to most tight ends and backs in man-to-man coverage.
Ronnell Lewis Profile
40 time: 4.68
2011 Stats: 59 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks