2018 NFL Draft Linebacker Rankings: From The College Perspective

2018 NFL Draft Linebacker Rankings: From The College Perspective

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft Linebacker Rankings: From The College Perspective


It’s NFL Draft time. Finally. Who are the linebackers who’ll matter from the 2018 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?

Daily Five: NFL Draft Linebackers

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2018 NFL Draft Prospects 
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It’s a weak year for linebackers overall, but there’s great value in the mid-rounds and a whole lot to like at the very top. There might be a slew of projections and guesses, but if you’re patient, there’s going to be great value.

15. ILB Oren Burks, Vanderbilt

6-3, 233: A good player for a solid run defense over his first three seasons – starting out as a safety – he stepped up as a senior with a career-high 80 tackles with a sack and seven tackles for loss. He’s not great when blocked and he’ll struggle against the more physical teams, but he can fill in just about anywhere in a linebacking corps and be a star on special teams.
Projected Round: Sixth

14. OLB Fred Warner, BYU

6-3, 227: A fierce hitter who dominated for the Cougar defense over the last few years, he came up with 262 career stops with 6.5 sacks and 32.5 tackles for loss. Able to make plays in coverage, and devastating when he gets in space and gets around the ball, he’ll have to find a role because he’s not a normal outside linebacker fit. At the very least, he’ll make a whole lot of big things happen on special teams.
Projected Round: Fourth

13. OLB SKai Moore, South Carolina

6-2. 221: He’s undersized, he missed a season with a serious neck injury, and he’s slow. But he’s a serious tackler, making 351 career stops, was great in pass coverage with 14 interceptions, and isn’t afraid of mixing it up. Don’t get caught up in the issues – take him in the mid-rounds, and he’ll find a way to make a team as a key backup and a surprising stat-sheet filler when he gets the chance.
Projected Round: Fifth

12. ILB Christian Sam, Arizona State

6-2, 237: Just versatile enough to see time on the weakside if doesn’t stick on the inside, he’s not that big, but he can really, really pop. Ultra-productive, he came up with 127 tackles with there sacks last season after suffering a foot injury the year before, but there’s nothing flashy. Whatever. Put him on the field, let him tackle people, and all will be fine.
Projected Round: Fifth

11. OLB Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson

6-1, 215: While he’s not all that big, and he didn’t run all that great in the workout world, he’s a tremendous producer who makes a whole lot of hits. Here’s the problem – where do you draft a core special teamer? He’s a linebacker, too – coming up with 205 tackles with 8.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss for an elite defense – but his money will be made on special teams. He just doesn’t have the bulk to be an every down NFL linebacker.
Projected Round: Fifth

10. ILB Josey Jewell, Iowa

6-1, 235: A tackling machine, he was a big part of the Iowa defensive puzzle right away, and didn’t stop over his four years, making 433 tackles with ten sacks and 28 tackles for loss. While he’s undersized for the inside, and he’s not fast enough for the outside, where does he go? Coaches will love him, he’ll always be around the ball, but he might be a good tackler who doesn’t make a massive amount of wow plays. That’s okay.
Projected Round: Fourth

9. OLB Jerome Baker, Ohio State

6-1, 229: A solid and relatively unsung star for the Buckeye defense over the last few seasons, Baker followed up an 83-stop sophomore campaign with slightly-disppointing 72 tackles last year. He can get behind the line, fly to the ball, and has the athleticism and skills to always be around the ball. He might not be a killer against the run, and he’ll have problems against power, but he’s got the skills to be a good flier outside of the top 100.
Projected Round: Third

8. OLB Darius Leonard, South Carolina State

6-2, 213: He’s too small, isn’t quite strong enough, and has the small school stigma thing happening. However, he comes up with a whole lot of tackles, making 194 over the last two years with 8.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss. This is about as big as he’ll get, and he’ll get erased by anyone who can get a block on him, but he’ll fly around and make big things happen and should be a killer on special teams.
Projected Round: Third

7. ILB Micah Kiser, Virginia

6-2, 240: A serious college tackler who made a whole lot of plays for over the last three years – with 408 career tackles with 19 sacks, 33.5 tackles for loss and eight force fumbles – he’s one of the bigger, tougher linebackers in the draft. He’s not going to run much or do a whole lot in pass coverage, but he’ll eat up everything on the inside.
Projected Round: Third

6. OLB Malik Jefferson, Texas

6-5, 235: Superathletic with the right combination of size, speed, and pop to his game, he’s a far better prospect than he’s being given credit for. He wasn’t as good as his high school billing, but the coaching staff made a huge difference, coming up with 110 tackles after coming up with 121 in his first two years. In the right system – where he gets to attack and fly to the ball – he’ll be a longtime, productive starter.
Projected Round: Third

5. ILB Tegray Scales, Indiana

6-0, 235: He’s not all that tall, and he’s not the fastest linebacker around, but stick him inside and he’ll come close to leading any NFL team in tackles.

Think Lavonte David – there’s a lot not to like, and then he’ll come up with 100 tackles every year.

It doesn’t matter that he’s smallish, he holds up well and has a way of avoiding getting caught up in the wash. He might not be all that much of a pass rusher at the next level, but he can do it, coming up with 17 career sacks and 46 tackles for loss.

He’s a good-enough guy in coverage – picking off eight passes and holding his own with backs on midrange passes – and he’ll always, always come up with the hit, pulling off 324 stops in his four years.

Throw in his peerless leadership, smarts and toughness, and he’ll be a terrific later-round get.

Projected Round: Fourth
Real Value: Top 50 Overall

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