With the increasing reliance on spread formations and the utilization of tight ends who can be size and speed mismatches, the qualities sought in today’s NFL linebacker have changed.

“When you’re looking at linebackers, you want a guy who can run and cover and can match up against a slot or a tight end,” Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said earlier this year at the Senior Bowl. “See if that guy’s got enough mobility in space to cover.”

When assessing the available players who fit that mold in the 2013 NFL Draft, the list starts with Kansas State’s Arthur Brown. The much-hyped high school recruit started his career at Miami (Fla.), but transferred home. In two years with the Wildcats, Brown racked up 201 tackles, including 16.5 for loss. The 6-foot, 241-pounder has been timed between 4.55 and 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He’s got good instincts. It’s questionable as to whether Brown will be available when the Buffalo Bills make their second-round selection.

“He can run. He’s a playmaker. I like him a lot,” said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.

Another linebacker noted for his coverage skills includes Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, a 6-1, 241-pounder.

“He’s in kind of that Lavonte David type of mold,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said of Greene, referring to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ linebacker.

Kiper continued: “Zaviar Gooden from Missouri can fly around the field, one of the fastest outside linebackers in this draft. Jelani Jenkins from Florida is another kid. Sean Porter from Texas A&M, I think, showed the ability to get after the quarterback and play in reverse … playing in two different during his career.

“So those are some of the cover guys I think can help you. Taylor Reed from SMU is another one who’s a late rounder, priority free agent.”

If it’s pass rushers teams are after from the outside linebacker position, the list starts with Oregon’s Dion Jordan. The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder had only five sacks for the Ducks last year, but was often asked to drop into coverage.

“His fluidity and range in coverage are rare for a DE/OLB prospect with his length,” wrote ESPN’s Todd McShay in his latest mock draft, which projects Jordan going second overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. “He wouldn’t be a great fit in many 4-3 defenses, but his ability to get after the passer when turned loose upfield, as well as drop into coverage from a two- or three-point stance, is ideal for the scheme new head coach Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich are bringing to town.”