2012 NFL Draft Preview, Position-By-Position: Outside Linebackers

Is Melvin Ingram the player the Jets covet most in the 2012 NFL Draft? (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

NFL teams are always looking for play-making, athletic outside linebackers. The position has been de-valued some by the fact that the passing game is now more prevalent than the run game, but teams still need quality linebackers.

Let's continue our 2012 NFL Draft position-by-position previews by looking at some of the best outside linebackers in the 2012 draft class. This is a position that, entering the draft, seems to be of high interest to the New York Jets.

Let's take a closer look at the outside linebacker crop.

Nfldraft2012_logo_medium

Top 5 Outside Linebackers [Rated by SI.com]

1. Melvin Ingram, South Carolina

Mocking The Draft Scouting Report | SB Nation Video | SI.com Profile
NOTES: If he is somehow available to the New York Jets at No. 16 he isn't getting past that spot. Many reports are this is the player the Jets covet.

2. Nick Perry, USC
Mocking The Draft Scouting Report | SI.com Profile
NOTES: Interesting that SI lists him as a linebacker. He could be a 4-3 defensive end, and is usually grouped there.

3. Shea McClellin, Boise State
SI.com Profile

4. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
Mocking The Draft Scouting Report | SB Nation Video | SI.com Profile
NOTES:
Another player more commonly thought of as a defensive end.

5. Zach Brown, North Carolina
Mocking The Draft Scouting Report | SI.com Profile
NOTES: Sliding down a lot of draft boards, but SI still has him as a second-round pick.

Other Players To Watch

Bobby Wagner, Utah State; Bruce Irvin, West Virginia; Mychal Kendricks, California; Lavonte David, Nebraska; Korey Toomer, Idaho; Tahir Whitehead, Temple; Ryan Davis, Bethune-Cookman; Cameron Collins, Oregon State; Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma

New York Jets

The Jets have been rumored to be after a dynamic edge player for their 3-4 defense. Ingram is apparently the apple of their eye, with Courtney Upshaw of Alabama seeming like a more realistic consolation prize. The Jets have had Ingram, Brown, Irvin, Lewis and Tahir Whitehead in for visits, as well as Upshaw, and some of the highly-rated defensive ends. Their interest seems pretty clear.

New York Giants

The Giants traded for Keith Rivers and seem to have a plethora of outside linebackers, even if Michael Boley moves to the middle as has been speculated. Still, an athletic sideline-to-sideline linebacker like Brown might intrigue Giants GM Jerry Reese. Brown, Whitehead and Toomer have visited with the Giants.

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