So we made our way through part 1 of Outside Linebacker Tips, let’s get through part 2.  You ready?

You know I am.  Let’s get it.

Change of direction, balance, and lateral movement. Gabriel explains that he looks for linebackers that have all three of these attributes, because they need to be able to move quickly in all directions to get through the trash and get to the ball.

Related: Football Workouts for Linebackers – The Outside Linebacker Edition. Part 1

Loose hips. Linebackers have to have loose hips so they can easily turn, run, and change directions in a fluid motion.

5-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware (ICON Sports)

Size. Gabriel on size:

…The ideal player would be 6-1 to 6-2 in height and weigh about 235 to 245 pounds… in some other 3-4 schemes, the clubs may want a little bit more size…

In the 3-4 defenses, clubs almost always look for size…

Walsh’s ideal size for an outside linebacker is 6-3, 245 pounds.

Strength. Inside linebackers have to be strong enough to withstand the force of blockers making contact and hitting them from every direction.

 

Related: Strength Training Fundamentals Every Player Should Know – Part One

 

Quickness. Quickness is really a need for the weak side pass rushing OLB’s in 3-4 defenses.

Walsh explains why:

this pass rushing, outside linebacker is going to have help right next to him in the 3-4 defense and he can take latitude in the pass rush. They can work that much harder at beating the offensive tackle at the line of scrimmage with quickness because they do have help.

Body control. There’s not a place on the football field that body control isn’t helpful.  Linebackers with the body control NFL scouts look for are able command their body movement regardless of the direction that their momentum is taking them.

 

Speed. Gabriel on speed:

…linebackers have to have excellent speed. Different schemes have different speed requirements, but everyone would love a linebacker who could run between 4.55 and 4.65. Ideally, 4.65 to 4.75 will work for many different defenses.

 

Related: How to Set Up Your Own 40 Yard Dash Training

 

He continues to elaborate on the difference between playing speed and timed speed, and which is more important:

More important than timed speed is play speed and that is tied in with instincts. There are not many who would argue that last year’s rookie Brandon Spikes played fast, but he was able to do that because of his great instincts and anticipation. Reality is he is a 5.00 type but he plays mush faster than he times.

 

Observing the Skills In-Action


Demarcus Ware, one of the league’s best weak side pass-rushing outside linebackers, definitely has the strength to hold his own.  He bench pressed 225 27 times at the Combine back in 2005, I’m sure he’s much stronger by now.

At 6-4, 260 exceeds the size criteria specified by Walsh and Gabriel.

Remember when Bill Walsh said the pass-rushing weak OLB needs to be able to beat offensive tackles?  There’s examples of that all throughout the footage.

Demarcus has solid body control and balance.  He’s good at keeping himself from falling to the ground, and pursues extremely well for a dude his size.

He’s quick with his feet, too.

He’s so agile and quick, he moves like a guy nearly half his size.

Gabriel said he looks for guys that can run between a 4.55 and 4.65.  DeMarcus ran a 4.56 at the Combine, and a 4.53 on his Pro Day back in ’05.

What do you think?  Will DeMarcus Ware surpass Lawrence Taylor as the best outside, pass-rushing outside linebacker?

Only time will tell, but he’s good, that’s for sure!

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