Khaseem Greene | Linebacker | Rutgers | 6'1', 241 pounds
Chances are if you've watched Big East football in the last few years, you're familiar with Khaseem Greene. The Rutgers linebacker has been a productive player throughout his career and has shown a knack for making big plays. He ended the season with six sacks to go with his six forced fumbles in his final year with the program.
This class of linebackers is nothing to scoff at, though, so Greene has a chance to get pushed down the board by some more well-rounded prospects. Somewhat of a hybrid player due to his size, Greene is an athletic, aggressive player, which leads to the big plays he creates on defense. How well will all of that translate to the NFL, though?
Greene is an athletic linebacker with the speed to survive in the fast-paced NFL. His sideline to sideline range helped him rack up more than 130 tackles during his senior season and will be his biggest asset at the next level. He breaks on the ball well and that's where his high tackle total comes from. In addition, his speed helps him out in coverage, which may be the most impressive aspect of his game. He reads the quarterback well in zone coverage and has the athleticism to stay with pass catchers in open space. He has the range to keep up with players down the field. His time as a safety probably helps in this area of his game.
With six forced fumbles, it's pretty obvious that Greene knows how to strip the football. He always seems to be going for the strip and is one of the most skilled players I've seen at executing that type of tackle. That's one of those skills that's tough to teach, but Greene definitely has it.
Greene is a bit of a tweener and doesn't have nearly enough upper body strength to be a consistent player against the run as a linebacker. He struggles to get off blocks and doesn't react quick enough off the ball. His stats are incredibly deceiving. While he racked up a ton of tackles as a senior, he's not actually all that sound of a tackler. He dives at runners' legs and goes up high on occasion, rarely wrapping up when making tackles. He also is going for the strip on a high percentage of his tackles, which pays off in big plays but also winds up in missed tackles as well.
A bigger issue with Greene is how slow he is in recognizing plays and the angles he takes to the ball. Given his speed, he should be able to get into the backfield more than he does, but he doesn't get off the snap quick enough. He's late to make plays and lacks the motor to chase down ball carriers consistently. Whether he's moving slow due to effort or just reacting slow, Greene could get in on more plays than he does.
Due to his lack of strength and play recognition, Greene may have a tough time becoming a starting-caliber linebacker in the NFL. Those two areas are certainly coachable, but Greene needs to improve significantly to take the successful step to the NFL. He has the athleticism to become a play maker and the cover skills to stay on the field on third downs, but despite his solid numbers, he's very rough around the edges. He will be a 4-3 weakside linebacker only in the NFL and needs to be put in space in order to have success.
Pro Comparison: Geno Hayes, Jacksonville Jaguars
Like recently signed Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Geno Hayes, Greene's game is predicated on speed. While some have compared Greene's skills to Lavonte David, who played well as a rookie for Tampa Bay last season, Greene isn't quite as refined. If he continues to develop, that may be his upside, though.