Pre-Combine Draft Rankings Collection: OLB

An OLB partner for Shaun Phillips is a possibility with the Chargers #1 pick. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Sorting through all the draft information is a tricky business. Some years I find myself getting better at it, and some years I find myself a little overwhelmed. This year has been the latter. The uncertainty surrounding the CBA and Restricted Free Agents, makes it difficult to pinpoint the Chargers' exact needs. That can be fine for a team picking at the top of the draft that has plenty of holes to fill and likely will still be a year or more away even if they do make an outstanding pick. But, we're talking about a team that should be a few tweaks away from getting back into the playoffs. The 1st round pick should be one of the first stepping stones on that journey back. Having this many positions with starter and depth issues is quite unsettling.

Anyway, to help you understand how the information can overwhelm I'm going to share with you what I go through trying to figure out what prospect is the best fit for the Chargers first round pick. To start it off, here's the rankings by a number of draft websites of the players that could fit as a 1st round pick 3-4 OLB:

OLB
Player Nat'l Football Post Scouts, Inc. (ESPN) Mel Kiper, Jr Draft Countdown Walter Football Mocking The Draft CBS Sports Scout.com (Fox Sports) DraftAce
Von Miller 5 5 6 8 5 21 6 11 14
Robert Quinn 12 9 5 3 6 8 7 13 6
Aldon Smith 7 19 22 11 10 9 16 20 37
Akeem Ayers 13 22 13 19 16 19 26 32 22
Ryan Kerrigan 85 25 25 14 20 42 22 28 25
Justin Houston 10 29 >25 >32 28 13 28 24 26

Von Miller was one of my favorites throughout the season. With the exception of the Russian judge one site, Mocking the Draft, it doesn't appear that the Chargers will get a whiff of him.

The same could be said of Robert Quinn, who missed is final collegiate season, but will most likely spend most of the weekend impressing scouts at the combine to make up for it and thereby moving farther away from the Chargers grasp.

Aldon Smith missed much of the 2010 season due to injury and, like Quinn, is poised to make a climb with his combine workouts. Still, it may only be a few slots and could still be a target.

Akeem Ayers seems to be a guy that many like, but few love. He's got all the skills you need for the position, but may not have one dominant one. That's a big question mark for a team, like the Chargers that need pass rushing from the OLB position.

Ryan Kerrigan has never played OLB and his strength is his pass rushing and relentlessness. Smith and Quinn never played OLB either, but Kerrigan isn't the athlete those guys are.

Justin Houston does have experience playing 3-4 OLB. He also left early without ever standing out at Georgia as an elite prospect. Maybe the combine moves him closer to Charger territory.

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