The 2015 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 30 in Chicago, Illinois.
2015 NFL Draft Schedule
Thursday, April 30
Friday, May 1
Saturday, May 2
As we get closer to the draft, we'll take a look at a few players available in each positional group throughout this series.
Let's look at five outside linebackers:
Florida's Dante Fowler Jr.
Fowler was a first-team All-SEC performer with 15 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hurries and 8.5 sacks last season.
According to [Lance Zierlein of NFL.com](http://www.nfl.com/draft/2015/profiles/dante-fowler, jr.?id=2552437), "Fowler is a competitive pass rusher getting by on athleticism and inside moves right now, but has a Pro Bowl ceiling with double-digit sack potential if he takes coaching and addresses his rush technique."
In an interview with Sports Illustrated and Monday Morning Quarterback's Jenny Vrentas, Fowler explained what he thinks makes him stand out among his peers.
"My passion for the game and how I play the game. I have been playing ever since I was 4 years old, so I was taking it seriously growing up, and studying players from Ray Lewis to DeMarcus Ware to Von Miller to Lawrence Taylor. I can play defensive end. I can play a 3-4 outside linebacker and drop back into coverage. I can play in the box as a linebacker as well. There are a lot of things I can do that I feel like I have an advantage over most guys."
Clemson's Vic Beasley
Beasley is the No. 16-ranked prospect in the NFL Draft according to NFL Network draft analyst and former scout Daniel Jeremiah.
In his four-year career at Clemson, Beasley totaled 33 sacks, seven forced fumbles and became the school's all-time sack leader as a senior. He won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014.
According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Beasley "projects as 3-4 outside linebacker. Considered one of the best pure edge rushers in the draft. Has speed and explosion to become an absolute menace for a creative defensive coordinator. Teams privately gushed about his ability to carry speed at the combine to go along with his additional weight."
Washington's Shaq Thompson
According to NFL Network's Bucky Brooks, Washington's Shaq Thompson is the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker in the NFL Draft.
After spending time on both offense and defense last season for the Huskies, Thompson was given the fifth-annual Paul Hornung Award, which is given to the nation's most versatile player. Thompson was used as a running back, inside and outside linebacker as well as safety last season.
He measured in at 6-foot and 228 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine last February, when he ran a 4.64 40-yard dash.
According to NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, Thompson is a "long, twitchy athlete with outstanding range to become a highly restrictive defender. With his big-play potential, Thompson could become a unique chess piece in the hands of the right defensive coordinator."
Thompson was drafted in the 18th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft by the Boston Red Sox.
Linebacker prospects to keep an eye on in the 2015 draft.
Small School Standout: Tennessee-Chattanooga's Davis Tull
At 6-foot-2 and 246 pounds, Tennessee-Chattanooga's Davis Tull is a three-time Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and two-time FCS All-American.
Tull finished his senior season with 10.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss.
According to CBS Sports, Tull is the No. 9-ranked outside linebacker and projects as a fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft.
At the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Tull had the best vertical jump of any linebacker at 42.5 inches. He finished with the second-best broad jump at 132 inches (Bud Dupree – Kentucky – 138).
According to NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, Tull "uses smarts, skill and toughness to dominate his level of competition. Tull has the athleticism to play outside linebacker in an odd front and his relentless nature and ability to outplay expectations could make him an NFL surprise."
Local Connection: Missouri's Markus Golden
Despite playing defensive end at Missouri, Golden spent two years playing outside linebacker at Hutchinson Community College before heading to Columbia.
In an interview with Fox Sports Midwest, Golden doesn't seem to be worried about where NFL teams want him to play.
"Wherever my coach is, whoever my coach is, he'll teach me how to play linebacker (and) I'll be able to do that," Golden says. "That's just who I am. Whatever you want me to do, I'm going to get out there and do it 100 percent."
At 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, Golden ran a 4.90 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
According to NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, Golden "comes off the ball with a purpose, but scouts don't see the explosive traits they want from a pass rusher. Golden is primarily an effort and pursuit player with special-teams potential, but he doesn't fill up a stat sheet."