Jonathan Jean-Louis #1 of the Connecticut Huskies carries the ball as Khaseem Greene #20 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights defends on November 26, 2011 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Connecticut Huskies defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 40-22.
Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene was originally recruited by former coach Greg Schiano to play safety, but he made his impact as a weak-side linebacker in college. Over the past two seasons, Greene led the Big East with 10.5 tackles per game.
At 6-1, 241 pounds, Greene is an undersized linebacker. At his height and with sub-33 inch arms, Greene struggles getting off of blocks. Once engaged, he’s usually rendered ineffective. Greene makes his impact in pursuit, flying down the line to tackle ball-carriers in the backfield. He’s not an extremely explosive athlete—he ran just a 4.71 and posted a 30-inch vertical at the Combine—but he plays instinctually. His bread-and-butter is making plays in space as opposed to taking on blocks.
As a former safety, Greene is a fluid athlete. He plays linebacker as if he’s in the defensive backfield. Again, he doesn’t possess outstanding speed, but Greene makes up for it by rarely taking any false steps. He finds himself in the right place at the right time. Greene is also a reliable tackler in the open-field. He seems to have a knack for creating turnovers; he intercepted six passes and forced an incredible 12 fumbles during his time at Rutgers.
The problem for Greene is that he doesn’t have one specific trait that stands out; he’s short, but he doesn’t make up for it with 4.5 speed. That means he’ll be very limited in the NFL; he can basically play only the weak-side linebacker position in a 4-3 defense. He can also add value on special teams.
NFL Comparison: Ernie Sims
Another undersized linebacker who filled in admirably for Dallas in 2012, Sims hasn’t played as well as many thought he would as the No. 9 overall pick in 2006. Both Sims and Greene can make plays if they’re placed in the right situation, but they also have big limitations.
Many are talking about Greene getting selected in the second round, but I don’t see it. In my opinion, anything prior to the fourth round for a 6-1 linebacker with mediocre speed would be a reach. I have a feeling you’ll see Greene drop into the third round, at least.
Fit In Dallas
The Cowboys seem content on using Bruce Carter as their weak-side linebacker. I’d personally play Carter on the strong side and go with a light lineup, in which case Greene would be an option. If the ‘Boys are thinking of bringing back Sims, they might see Greene as a younger alternative.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.