Editor's note: This is the 17th installment in Bleacher Report's NFL 1000 for the 2013 season. This signature series runs through April 24, with NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller ranking the best players at every position. You can read more about the series in this introductory article. See the NFL 1000 page for more rankings.
With the spread of the 3-4 defense and variations of it, the outside linebacker position is as important as ever in the NFL. It has allowed coaches to get more great athletes like Aldon Smith, Robert Mathis and Justin Houston on the field. But which players do it best in the 3-4?
That’s what the NFL 1000 aims to identify. Throw out the narratives and the fantasy football stats, and dig into the film. Then we’ll see who is the best.
The B/R 1000 metric is based on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance on a 100-point scale.
Potential is not taken into consideration, nor are career accomplishments.
Outside linebackers are judged on run defense (20 points), pass-rush skills (30), coverage (10), tackling (40) and all of the technique, athletic ability and football intelligence needed to play the position.
In the case of ties, our team asked, "Which player would I rather have on my team?" and set the rankings accordingly.
Subjective? Yes. But ties are no fun.
Each player was scouted by me and a team of experienced evaluators with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study from our team.