St. Louis Rams
First Round, 30th Pick
A former safety who outgrew the position, Alec Ogletree is one of the best athletes in the draft regardless of position. Ogletree possesses every physical asset imaginable to be an All-Pro linebacker. He still plays like a defensive back and it may take a couple of years before he is an every-down player, but he should make an instant impact as a sub linebacker who can match pass-catching running backs and tight ends who detach from the formation and line up as receivers.
+ Elite height/weight/speed combination with long arms and frame to get bigger
+ Tools to be a top cover linebacker in the NFL
- Freelancer who needs an inordinate amount of work in key reading and block deconstruction
Ogletree is a long and supremely athletic linebacker with arms that hang down to the ground. His frame is somewhat lanky, and he could definitely stand to add more bulk and strength. His straight-line speed, change-of-direction ability and closing burst are elite for his position.
Ogletree lined up at inside linebacker (usually on the strong side) in Georgia’s 3-4 defense. For an undersized safety convert whose ability to deal with trash in the box is inconsistent at best, this probably wasn’t the best use of his skills.
Pass coverage is where Ogletree can make an instant impact in the NFL. A fluid athlete who truly moves like a defensive back, Ogletree can high point the football, flip his hips, change direction and burst in and out of breaks with ease. He’s at his best in man coverage and figures to be a weapon to match up with “Joker” tight ends and space-playing running backs. Poor eye discipline (constantly fixated on the backfield) causes him to lose receivers that enter his area in zone coverage.
Ogletree is easily neutralized as a blitzer when blockers get their hands on him cleanly. However, his first step, closing speed and ability to reduce his surface area and get skinny through rush lanes suggest he could be used creatively as an inside blitzer. If he ever gets comfortable using his long arms to keep blockers off of him, he could develop into a dangerous pass-rusher on a consistent basis from week to week.
Despite posting some gaudy tackling statistics (111 tackles in 10 games), defending the run is currently the weakest part of Ogletree’s game. He often lets his arms hang uselessly by his side, turning his shoulders and giving blockers free shots at his chest. He is not comfortable scraping in pursuit or working through trash, often losing ground to run around blocks and avoid contact.
His biggest weakness is filling at the point of attack on the play side—exacerbated by playing the strong inside linebacker spot in a 3-4 defense. He’s a much more comfortable player on the backside of runs, where he can get clear run-throughs to fire into the backfield and try and cause disruption.
Read and React
Ogletree does not key the offensive line, instead reading the backfield. As such, he’s prone to getting stuck in quicksand or false-stepping when he doesn’t get a clear picture. Because he tends to freelance, he is prone to misfitting and warping the integrity of the defense.
Ogletree is a solid, drag-down tackler who will usually get his target to the ground if he can get a running start and get his entire body behind the tackle. His lack of strength does show up when trying to tackle bigger backs and tight ends or when he cannot throw his entire body into the tackle. He has a bad tendency to overrun the ball-carrier and open up cutback lanes.
Ogletree is still very much a safety learning to play the linebacker position. His best fit in the NFL would be as a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 or under front defense, where his coverage and run-and-chase skills can be fully utilized and his weaknesses can be hidden while he continues to develop. A team might not feel comfortable playing him heavy snaps in their base packages early in his career, but he should make an instant impact coming on the field in pass situations and covering tight ends and running backs.
Draft Projection: Late first-early second