Georgia linebacker Alec Ogeltree has elite potential

November 5th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

Alec Ogletree is the real star of Georgia's defense

Alec Ogletree is a top ten talent. Simple as that. No doubt what so ever. By the time April comes around I suspect that’ll be consensus opinion. It should be.

There are reasons why that may not prove to be the case (more on that later) but none involve a lack of talent. What’s more the guy looks like he was made to play for the Seahawks defense. If he falls out of the top ten due to a couple of off-field incidents, Seattle’s front office needs to be ready to pounce. We’ve spent a ton of time talking up Jarvis Jones as the defining playmaker on Georgia’s defense. The more I watch Ogletree, the more I think he’s the true star.

Against Ole Miss on Saturday, he was flawless. This is the fourth time I’ve seen him this season and he’s shown improvement each time after returning from a four game suspension. He had a series of big impact plays, helping the Bulldogs to a comfortable 37-10 victory.

- With 13:56 left in the first quarter, Ole Miss attempt a pass down the right sideline. The safety under-cuts the route and comes close to intercepting the ball, but the gamble takes him out of coverage. The receiver has a ten yard head start and a free run to the end zone, but the Ogletree chases him down and makes the tackle at the 16 yard line saving a touchdown.

- On 3rd and 8 at the Ole Miss 45, he lined up next to the right end appearing like he was going to cover the slot receiver. Instead he rushed the edge with the defensive end dropping instead. Ogletree blew past the left tackle on a speed rush and sacked the quarterback for a big loss.

- In the closing stages of the first quarter, Ole Miss went for it on 4th and 4 at the Georgia 30. Ogletree lined up inside, standing on the right hash mark. He rushed the interior but the quarterback threw quickly on a WR screen to the opposite side of the field. Ogletree diagnosed the play immediately, changed direction in a flash and sprinted to the receiver who was odds on to get the first down. With an elite burst of acceleration, Ogletree wins the foot race and makes a crunching tackle to force a turnover on downs, inches short of the marker. Anything other than a forceful hit and momentum carries the ball carrier to a first down. It’s the best defensive play you’ll see this year that isn’t a sack or interception.

- On a screen play with 9:18 left in the second quarter he showed great instinct again to recognise the play, avoid blockers and make the play for a loss.

- With 6:08 left in the second quarter the Ole Miss quarterback drops back and makes an ill-advised down field thrown from just inside his own end zone. Ogletree has dropped into coverage downfield and is perfectly placed to make a leaping interception. By my reckoning he makes up 25 yards between the quarterback setting to throw and delivering the pass. Again, it’s a show of elite athleticism, field IQ and execution.

- With 0:58 left in the third quarter, Ole Miss are pinned back on their own two yard line. Ogletree is once more lined up inside. He reads the play (hand off to the tailback in the shotgun) and explodes to the ball carrier, not allowing him any time to react. Ogletree throws the running back to the ground inside the end zone for a safety.

If you’ve not really considered the possibility of the Seahawks drafting this guy, it’s time to get excited. Just don’t get your hopes up too much because he may be long gone by the time the Seattle picks. I’ve not seen a linebacker with comparable closing speed. He can show a coverage look before blitzing, take away the hot read and play the edge as a pass rusher. In fact he has untapped potential as a pass rusher playing ILB in Georgia’s 3-4 defense. As a WILL linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, he’ll probably end up being a better fit.

So why might he fall to the Seahawks, assuming they aren’t picking in the top ten this year? He was suspended for four games this year, along with team mate Bacarri Rambo, after failing a drugs test during spring camp. There’s nothing to suggest this is a lingering issue or that Ogeltree has a problem. Even so, it’s something teams will look into – particularly given it’s not his first flirtation with trouble. He was also suspended in 2010 for one game after a bizarre arrest following an incident involving a stolen scooter helmet. Teams will do their homework but I suspect these incidents aren’t going to be enough alone to force a dramatic fall in round one.

People who visit the blog regularly know how much I rate pass rusher Jarvis Jones. Who doesn’t rate the guy? He’s the big name on a Georgia defense loaded with NFL talent, including nose tackle Jonathan Jenkins, defensive end Garrison Smith, safety’s Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo and cornerbacks Damian Swann and Branden Smith. Ogletree is right up there with Jones and might be the better pro-prospect. The Bulldogs are probably going to face Alabama in the SEC title game again and it’ll be interesting to see if they can do a better job than last year against a dominating Crimson Tide offense. They have enough talent on defense to compete.

Linebacker isn’t Seattle’s greatest need but eventually Leroy Hill is going to move on or revert to a more limited role. Ogletree would be the perfect replacement at the WILL position. Not only would he offer another dimension to the pass rush at outside linebacker, he’d also solve some of the issues on third down. He’s a former safety so has defensive back speed and can cover slot receivers underneath or tight ends on deeper routes over the middle. Third down defense is an area for improvement and Ogletree would provide that from day one. There’s no reason why he couldn’t develop into a player of Julian Peterson’s quality, providing 7-10 sacks per year while being vastly superior in coverage.

Make no mistake, Alec Ogletree is an elite talent and warrants the highest praise as a pro-prospect. If you want someone to root for as a defensive pick, this is your guy.

24 Responses to “Georgia linebacker Alec Ogeltree has elite potential”

  1. Stuart says:

    If Ogletree did slide out of the top 10, do you see our FO making a move up for him? There will always be a guy at your normal draft spot but “a guy” is a far cry for “the guy”. One of the posters on this site made a comment the other day about the Hawks drafting Barron and moving Cam to WSLB. Is there a safety anwhere near as good as Barron this year and is that move even a possiblility? I remember at that time PC said why on earth would you change a Pro Bowlers postition…Is it even possible?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I doubt they ever truly considered Barron, knowing where he’d go. He was probably a ‘what if’ scenario that was never very likely to happen. For me Matt Elam at Florida is just as good as Barron.

  2. Snoop Dogg says:

    1) If you had to guess on all of Alec Ogletree’s physical measurables, what would you estimate them to be?

    2) Since the combine I have thought that mykal kendricks (btw, I would definitely be willing to spend a first round pick on a blitzing specialist 4.4 speed, playmaking linebacker) was the perfect prospect for seattle’s will linebacker position. How do they compare?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Kendricks played inside in college and I think he’d play inside in Seattle (like Wagner). Ogletree is taller and leaner, with better coverage skills and a fit at OLB. Kendricks was a missile, full of intensity and hard hitting. Ogeltree is more finesse but just an incredible athlete and a better pass rusher. In terms of measurables, he’s likely 4.5 at 236lbs and 6-3.

      • Michael says:

        “Finesse” can often be a back-handed compliment suggesting a lack of physical play. Is he gonna face any of the same criticism Zach Brown did in the draft?

        • Rob Staton says:

          He’s superior to Zach Brown. I don’t think we should be scared off by the word ‘finesse’. Not every player is Ray Lewis after all. But Ogletree’s display vs Ole Miss was the most impressive individual performance I’ve seen this year by any defensive player.

  3. caleb says:

    Hey rob,

    been reading your site for a while now, really informative and well organized. Thanks for putting the time and effort in. Going off this article and your reaction piece to yesterdays game, I am wondering what you think about next years free agents and subsequent draft needs.

    Personally, given the evidently large discrepancy between defensive performance with jason jones and without jason jones, i would be inclined to see his re-signing as imperative. Naturally this depends on his perceived value in the league, but if it is not broken don’t fix it. He is only 26, and a 4 year contract would be well withing his prime years of athletic ability.

    Is it with this assumption that you see Alec Ogletree as a viable draft option? Also, as he plays ILB at Georgia, what exactly is it about his play at that position that indicates he would flourish as a WILL? Also, as the seahawks play a lot of nickle packages, would the drafting of Ogletree result in a loss of field time for some of our other young LBs?

    What does the nature of Miller and Rice’s pricy final years on their contracts mean for seahawk’s future? Personally, I think we should keep Rice. The guy is 26, seemingly without injury pangs, and playing at a high level. What would this team risk in trying to put the reins of the offense in the hands of a rookie WR, none of which seem to be the NFL ready players of Julio jones or AJ green?

    I understand this is all conjecture, but it excites me non the less. Keep up the great work

    • Rob Staton says:

      Great questions Caleb.

      I think this suggestion of Ogletree first and foremost is because the guy warrants the attention. Whether Jones re-signs or not, I’d find it hard to draft any defensive tackle or wide receiver (for example) over this guy. He’s that good. But as you mention, the defense relies so much on Jason Jones they either have to re-sign him, sign an alternative or use the draft to find an effective replacement. If the draft became the only solution – and I doubt it gets that far – then it’s a deep enough class at DT to consider waiting until rounds 2-3 to fill that hole on the basis you can get a guy as talented as Ogletree in R1.

      In terms of his game and what appears to the WILL – mainly it’s his pure athleticism, cover skills and untapped potential to rush the passer. He blitzed the edge one time against Ole Miss and beat the left tackle for a sack. The Bulldogs don’t use him enough in pass rushing situations because he’s so good at covering and they can rely on Jarvis Jones and the d-line to create pressure. He doesn’t have the size and run stopping ability to stick at ILB at the next level, but his skill set athletically matches the WILL perfectly. For nickel downs I actually think he could play end like Julian Peterson did, which would be helpful if/when Bruce Irvin takes over from Chris Clemons as the permanent LEO. In the meantime I think you just find ways to get him on the field for nickel downs, whether that means taking K.J. Wright off the field or a defensive back. He’s so good in coverage and a capable enough pass rusher to just need to find ways to get him into playmaking situations.

      As for Rice – I agree they should keep him and they will. Either they’ll pay the guy his money or look to restructure. They can probably re-do the deal and push some of it into a bonus. Otherwise they just pay him – and they’ve shown with the T.J. Houshmandzadeh/Matt Flynn situations that money is only a deciding factor when it’s having an adverse effect on the team. So whatever happens, Rice stays. Zach Miller will have to re-do his deal or face getting cut. He isn’t going to earn the $11m he’s owed in 2013. He shouldn’t expect to either. If they do draft a WR it’ll be as a compliment. As things stand the depth at WR makes me wonder whether that’s a position for round two, allowing the team to truly go after BPA perhaps for the first time since this regime took over.

  4. kevin mullen says:

    Love it! Though, I’m sure some fair weather Seattle fans might be lukewarm to drafting a LB so high again (Rob’s boy Aaron Curry comes to mind) but this dude looks legit. I’d love the Clemons/Irvin/Ogletree scheme.

    If I’m not mistaken, Browner’s contract is up after the year?! Should we consider CB in round one? With Browner up there in age, I’m sure he’s looking to cash in as much as he can, especially if he’s eating pineapple for a second time.

    • Michael says:

      Kevin, we wouldn’t be drafting Ogeltree nearly as high as Curry (#4 overall). I think the assumption right now is that the Seahawks would likely only get him in the 18-25 range if he fell that far, and I think the fan base would be totally fine with it given this front office’s eye for talent. Your comment does get me curious about something else though. I just discovered this blog last off-season so excuse my ignorance here. I assume your, “Rob’s boy” comment was a sarcastic one, but..

      Rob, what was your pre-draft opinion of Curry and how did you react when the Hawks spent the #4 pick on him?

      • Rob Staton says:

        I shouted ‘NOOOOOOOOO’ and probably had the neighbours worried there’d been a murder. My pre-draft opinion of Curry was a huge luxury pick with limited upside. He offered zero pass rushing potential – or at least, hadn’t shown any in college to warrant any level of expectation. He was an athlete playing linebacker who had the physical quality to potentially develop into a very solid linebacker. For $60m I wanted more than a solid linebacker – especially given the stumbling offense and ageing star players. I very much wanted the Seahawks to draft Michael Crabtree that year and I still believe he’d be a more effective receiver in a more potent passing game. But I hated the Curry pick.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I hope that was a sarcastic ‘Rob’s boy’! :)

      • kevin mullen says:

        It was a very sarcastic, indeed. I knew how much you despised the pick and fully understand that we’re not picking Ogletree anywhere near top5. I was merely pointing out that Curry was a weakside LB and that there might be talk of targeting Ogletree (possibly in the range where we got Irvin??) in the upper half.

        By no means I was thinking Curry = Ogletree, far from it. I think you made a case for reason of moving up in the draft to get this guy, and I’m on the bandwagon!

  5. Clayton says:

    Rob, I was wondering if you got a chance to see CJ Mosley’s tape, particularly against Michigan. I thought he looked pretty dominant too. If you did get to see his film, how would you compare him to Ogletree?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I love Mosley, incredibly athletic and a big playmaker. He warrants consideration too and he’s got better and better as the year goes on. He doesn’t have Ogletree’s upside as a pass rusher but he consistently finds ways to have an impact. He’s flies around in coverage.

  6. Michael says:

    I know the Seahawks would use him as a WILL, but what’s keeping the 3-4 teams from being just as into this guy as the 4-3 ones? If he truly has the pass rush potential you say, wouldn’t he be even more valuable as a Von Miller clone? From the sound of it he plays in coverage a lot more than Miller did in college, so I guess there is a risk in how raw he may be as a pass rusher, but I doubt that would be enough to push him too far down their boards once he dominates the combine.

    I am all about BPA and I have a hard time picturing a scenario where this guy is still on the board in the teens and isn’t it. Would love to see him holding up that Hawks jersey, but after such a glowing report I fear he won’t make it that far. Although the depth of this draft should make it cheaper to trade up, so who knows, maybe we’ll see PC/JS make their first ever move up in round 1.

  7. dave crockett says:

    I expect that Ogletree’s past will keep him out of the top 5-8 picks maybe. As long as he has an incident-free season I think he’ll be fine. If he ends up on the police blotter or ends up academically ineligible for Georgia’s bowl game he may have some problems.

  8. So says:

    Interesting analysis. Thanks. He looks good, no doubt. And I respect your thoughts. What was your assessment of Irvin – pre draft? Looking back, our FO was very open about their player grades. For a front office, that is. They said they had the defensive players rated Barron #1, Kuechley #2, and Irvin #3. I have no doubt that the Seahawks would have taken whichever of those players was available when the Seahawks drafted. I know Kuechley is playing great. I have not followed Barron. ???? But I am impressed with PC/JS, and trust they will have Ogletree properly graded. I know we need a replacement for Hill, but I wonder if we use our first round pick this year on the defense. I think they have their eye on some WR. He may have fallen this year, and that might make him a second or even later round pick. Allowing the Hawks to go defense or BPA. But until we get some guidance as to team priorities like we did last year, it’s harder this year to see where they will go. There are fewer holes on this team and developing players who show promise and may mitigate the need to draft such positions as RG (Sweezy), and DT (Scruggs, and Howard). Scruggs played decently in replacement of Jones. Not that I don’t want to re-sign Jones, I do, but money is an issue when there is a capable replacement for a seventh rounders paycheck. Hawthorne got real good money for his services, and that’s why he is gone.

    As I see the WR position, any draftee needs to push either Tate or Rice down the ladder or he is useless. We need a Julio Jones or AJ Green if we draft a WR. I love Rice, but as the second WR he would face a lower class CB and excel. I expect Tate to continue to impress. Maybe we don’t need a top draft pick WR.

    Consensus is that DT is the strong position group represented this year. Maybe the Hawks will see one of them as BPA?

    • Michael says:

      So far it sounds like Brandon Coleman is probably the only receiver that would push Rice out of the #1 spot. If he comes out he is by far the guy I want most, and would be totally cool with a trade up to get him. It would be really awesome to have Rice as a #2

      If he doesn’t come out, it should simply be a matter of BPA even though that is likely to be a defensive player.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I’m not entirely trusting when front offices announce their ‘top players’. There’s no real reason to and no way of knowing how accurate it is. It’s my understanding the Seahawks were zoned in on improving the pass rush. That’s not to say they wouldn’t have drafted Kuechly or Barron, but I think they always believed Irvin would be there and he would be their guy. And I suspect if Irvin had gone earlier they would’ve drafted another pass rusher. I always liked Irvin as a pass rusher in Seattle’s system. I wrote this article in May 2011: http://seahawksdraftblog.com/bruce-irvin-is-ready-to-crash-the-2012-nfl-draft

  9. Snoop Dogg says:

    Most of the mock drafts that I have scouted online don’t have ogle tree in the first round even. I would love to just let him fall to the seahawks at around pick 20-24. I realize that national pundits are not very smart (russell wilson and bruce irvin = largest reaches of all time?) What are the chances that he could fall to us if we stood put?

    • Rob Staton says:

      I wouldn’t trust any mock draft that doesn’t have Ogletree in the first round. And I think for him to fall beyond the top-15, his character concerns will have to be more serious than a failed drugs test in spring camp.