Draft Spotlight: Ronnell Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

Written by Kip Earlywine

Rundown: Nicknamed “The Hammer” for his bone crushing hits, Ronnell Lewis was a junior year defensive end for Oklahoma.  He is a projected outside linebacker in the NFL.

Age: 21  (September 17, 1990)

Height:  6’2″

Weight:  253

40 time:  4.69

10 yard split:  1.61

3 cone:  7.09

Vertical Jump:  31″

Compilation Videos:

vs. Texas

vs. Florida St.


  • Big
  • Fast for his size
  • Powerful
  • High football IQ, reads plays well and has a nose for the ball
  • Doesn’t give up on plays
  • High motor
  • Sub-elite edge rush ability
  • Big time special teams contributor
  • Hard hitter
  • Great tackler


  • Tweener label
  • Essentially no experience at LB
  • Coverage ability is an unknown

Ronnell Lewis is a first round talent who could take quite a tumble on draft day, all for one innocent and unfortunate problem: his coaches played him at the wrong position in college.  Lewis played defensive end at Oklahoma, but he physically resembles a stud SAM linebacker.  Watching Lewis I was quickly reminded of scouting Aaron Curry three years ago.  Lewis has a big frame and looks like Aaron Curry physically (both are 6’2″ and Curry is just a pound heavier).  Lewis is not quite the freak athlete that Curry was, but he’s an above average athlete especially for his size and is equally as powerful, though Lewis stays in control and plays with more intelligence than Curry did.  Its kind of funny how they contrast in a way- Curry was the rock solid linebacker who was a total unknown as a pass rusher, where Lewis is a capable pass rusher who is an unknown at linebacker.

Lewis is a well rounded player with many positives and no real negatives save uncertainty.  The reason he won’t be a first round pick is because of the dreaded tweener label.  Lewis is too small to be a 3-4 end, he is slightly undersized for the strong side end role in a 4-3, he’s not quite quick enough or skilled enough as a pass rusher to be a weak  side end, and while he looks the part of a 4-3 SAM linebacker, he has no experience at the position really so his effectiveness there, particularly in coverage, is an unknown.

Above I linked two of Lewis’ game compilations, and you will see that he pretty much plays defensive end in every snap, with a few special teams plays thrown in for good measure.  I can only guess how well Lewis’ skills will translate to outside linebacker, but I really like his tape.  He uses his speed and strength well in the pass rush, he gets hustle sacks and makes a lot of difficult do-or-die tackles in space.  I love how he wraps up so well yet still throws his opponent to the ground with force- just to be sure.  At least from this sample, his mental mistakes seem to be minimal, and he almost always seems to know when it is wisest to wait and wisest to attack.  In many ways, he’s like Kam Chancellor the defensive end.  Just a solid contributor every snap who wins you over with consistent quality play.

In Conclusion:

Sometimes the tweener label can lead to a team finding a bargain value.  Brandon Mebane was thought to be too big to be a 3 tech but too small to be a nose tackle or 1 tech.  Seattle drafted him late in the 3rd round, much later than his talent deserved, and found he could be a very effective 1 tech after all.  Kam Chancellor was thought to be too slow or too stiff to handle the coverage responsibilities of a strong saftey, but was also unproven as an outside linebacker.  Seattle took him in the 5th and found a way to work around Chancellor’s weaknesses, making him an immediate pro-bowler at strong safety.  Ronnell Lewis could very well become a pro-bowler for some lucky team in the mid-2nd round, a team that is willing to take a chance on the uncertainty of Lewis’ NFL future.

Relative to his draft stock, Lewis is one of my favorite 2012 prospects.  Sadly, I don’t think Seattle will draft him under normal circumstances.  Seattle already has an able SAM ‘backer in KJ Wright, and while they could move Wright to Mike to accommodate Lewis, I sense that the Seahawks want more speed and more coverage out of the Mike than Wright can provide.  If Seattle drafts Upshaw or Ingram in the first round (which is likely), that would further complicate things if that first round selection plays a DE/SAM hybrid role, which is pretty much exactly what Ronnell Lewis is and would make his selection redundant.

Probably the only way Lewis becomes a Seahawk is if Seattle is given a great offer and trades so far out of the #12 pick that they miss out on all of Coples, Ingram, and Upshaw.  If that happens and Seattle goes a different direction in the first round, they could take Lewis in the 2nd round and use him in a very similar manner to how a guy like Upshaw or Hightower would be used- a hybrid DE/LB.  If Seattle takes Upshaw or Ingram in round 1, then that probably eliminates Lewis later on.  At this point, Lewis is probably only a contingency option for Seattle.  Which I think is a darn shame.  I know it wouldn’t be easy, but if Seattle could find a way to find a role for Lewis in round two, I’d be pretty excited about it.  He’s a risk, but there is a good chance he could become one of the NFL’s better SAM linebackers.


  1. Steve in Spain

    Thanks, Kip. Love this guy’s tape! One possible concern that gets mentioned on other scouting reports is his academics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s too dumb to play football at the NFL level. He’s got great instincts and, even if he’s initially blocked out, finds a way to stay involved in the play til the whistle is blown. Love that motor. He’s Mayock’s #5 OLB.

  2. Jayson

    I love this kids motor, he does not give up. I kinda think that he played LB in high school maybe, atleast it does not seem that he is oblivious to the spot I mean. If for some reason we do get a decent trade for the #12 spot I would not mind us taking this kid in the draft. Just my 2 cents.

  3. Attyla the Hawk

    Another very intriguing prospect.

    I really love our track record for identifying and developing quality prospects who don’t fit the round hole of physical attributes that positions ‘demand’.

    I’d have to think that Pete is giddy with the possibilities available for us. Given the number of prospects, and our documented desire to move down — I would be shocked if we’re picking at 12.

  4. Stuart

    The more I see guys like Lewis, the more I want to trade down and get extra picks. Kip, say the Seahawks are able to move down in the first and select say Dont’s Hightower, do you think Lewis would be a more likely canidate in Round 2?

  5. Jon

    While watching these videos of Lewis I noticed some great consistency, and saw a player in the Hightower mold with the production, though I like Hightower a bit more. Difference for me is a first vs second round type player. Also I went on to watch some tape for Perry afterward and I really like him as well. However, one major problem that I saw in Perry that makes me think he is lower instead of higher in our FOs board is his run D. He does not seem to anticipate well. I watched the Cal game and a game against Arizona and thought that I was watching two different players. Run D against cal was horrible, but against Arizona seemed like a stud run d-line prospect. Both games he had a couple sacks, but I was still not impressed with the Cal game even with like 3 or 3 1/2 sacks. He did not pressure the QB or make any plays the rest of that game. Don’t get me wrong I would love three sacks in a game, I think the Huskies game seemed about the same good sack totals but no other production

  6. Misfit74

    Hey, where did you find the 10-yard split? I’ve been trying to find those anywhere more ‘official’ than walterfooball. Are they out now or am I just not finding them? I’m especially interested for the RBs.

    This guys sounds like a nice future MLB in Seattle to me. His 10-yard split makes me less critical of his 40-time. Seems like a pounder, too. Do you think he can play the Mike?

  7. Rob

    Misfit 74 – There are some listed here:


    I had a website saved via Twitter for today but my laptop reloaded itself and it’s lost the link. Hoping to find it, had all the official 10-yard splits.

  8. Todd

    If those rumors are true, they must see some great pass-rushing value in round 2. Makes sense to me. Hightower + D. Martin + R. Lewis > Upshaw + Kendricks or Kueckly + Martin/Lewis.

  9. Misfit74

    Thanks, Rob. Much appreciated. If you find more or a better/more trusted source as things become available, I’d be more than happy to find out from you, as well. I’m all over that link right now and that’s what I’m looking for, even if pieced together. I just wasn’t sure I could trust the ones at WF.

  10. Bobby Cink

    What do you think about the possibility of his playing the LEO position? Clemons only outweighs him by about 10 pounds or so right?

  11. Kip Earlywine

    Stuart- that could be possible. Hightower/Wright have a lot of scheme flexibility between them. Hightower could play any of the three spots.

    Bobby- He could do it, but I’d much rather have a guy like Bruce Irvin or Vinny Curry drafted for the LEO.

    Misfit- Here is the link I use for all sorts of combine info:


  12. Misfit74

    Holy crap, Kip!

    That spreadsheet rules. Where does it come from? Self maintained or ?

  13. DavidinBellingham

    I like Upshaw’s clips more than R. Lewis, better read and react. I also prefer Shea McClellin, Burris, and Irvin.

  14. DavidinBellingham

    I forgot to mention, great spread sheet Kip! Thank you for posting it.

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