Jalen Jelks – OLB (Oregon)
The comparisons between Anthony Barr and Jalen Jelks are quite startling once one begins looking at them more closely.
Jelks is 6-foot-5, 244 pounds while Barr measures in at 6-foot-5, 247 pounds. Both are/were considered bets fits as a pass rusher out of a 3-4 defense, both played college ball on the west coast, and both have long lanky arms that can swallow up ball carriers.
The biggest difference that jumps out on tape, and probably the reason Jelks is considered a mid-round prospect, is he just doesn’t appear to have the natural athleticism that Barr does. The NFL Scouting Combine will be vital for the former Oregon linebacker. Teams will be paying close attention to his time in the 40-yard dash and his overall movement abilities that he displays in the drills.
Jelks is a smart player, who diagnoses plays well. He is solid versus the run and has shown the ability to rush the passer evidenced by his 15.5 career sacks.
When Barr came out of college, many didn’t see him as a fit in a 4-3 defense. But Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer liked his ability to rush the passer, as well as his ability to cover backs and tight ends. It’s possible Zimmer sees Jelks as a similar type of prospect and one he can utilize the same way that he did with Barr.
The former Oregon linebacker is a guy who right now, is likely an early Day 3 prospect. But a good showing at the combine would definitely shoot him way up the board.