2019 NFL Draft Linebacker Rankings: From The College Perspective

2019 NFL Draft Linebacker Rankings: From The College Perspective

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2019 NFL Draft Linebacker Rankings: From The College Perspective


Which linebackers will matter in the 2019 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?

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It’s a good group of linebackers, but more and more, the emphasis is on the hybrid edge rushers who can also work as a defensive end. These are the 15 best pure linebacker prospects, with the top three destined to be leaders and stars of their respective defenses.

15. Ty Summers, TCU

6-1, 241: No, the tackle production wasn’t there, but that’s part of the TCU scheme – he can hit. A true inside linebacker, he has the bulk and the size to hold up against the power runners – and he can move. He’ll go all out as a special teamer and run defender, but he’s likely a two-down guy.
Projected Round: Fifth

14. Tre Lamar, Clemson

6-3, 253: If you’re looking for a good value pick for a potential star for the middle of your linebacking corps, here you go. Of course he was helped by the great line in front of him, but he made a whole lot of plays on his own. He doesn’t have the raw athletic tools, but he’ll eat up everything that comes his way and can potentially be the quarterback of the D.
Projected Round: Fifth

13. Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State

6-2, 242: An interesting prospect considering his size and his thump, there’s one giant problem for this big linebacker – 4.98. He plays fast and he’s great at getting a bead on a ball-carrier as a volume tackler when things come his way. He’ll make a roster as a star special teamer.
Projected Round: Fifth

12. Blake Cashman, MInnesota

6-1, 237: Undersized, he’s not a powerful defender and he’ll take a big beating, but the try-hard walk-on is stunningly 4.5 fast and explosive. He’ll do everything needed in a variety of roles – starting out as a star special teamer – but he’ll make a roster.
Projected Round: Fifth

11. Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington

6-0, 230: He checked in bigger than expected, faster than expected, and quicker than expected. Combine that with the 176 tackles he made last season and he should move into the early Day 3 range. There’s a lot not to like about his game – he’ll get erased by anyone who blocks him – but he’ll hit.
Projected Round: Fifth

10. Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii

6-2, 250: The guy hit everything that moved in his terrific Hawaii career – finishing with 390 tackles – as a perennial Mountain West star. The tools aren’t quite there speed-wise, but he’s an attitude defender who’ll beat up ball carriers and be among the draft’s most physical linebackers. He needs to stay in one piece, though, after wearing down with a shoulder problem.
Projected Round: Fourth

9. TJ Edwards, Wisconsin

6-0, 230: He might be missing the flash and speed, but he’s a tough guy defender with peerless leadership skills and motor. With 366 career tackles, he got in on just about everything. He’s one of those players who gets taken on Day 3 and ends up leading a team in tackles.
Projected Round: Fourth

8. Bobby Okereke, Stanford

6-1, 239: Undersized but fast and quick, he’s a tough-guy tackler with Stanford smarts who can move. His problem might be finding the right position – he’s an inside linebacker who needs to work on the outside at the next level – but he should turn into a rock of a pass defender and even more of a playmaker behind the line.
Projected Round: Fourth

7. Germaine Pratt, NC State

6-2, 240: A fast all-around playmaker who has the explosion, savvy, and scratch-the-surface upside, some GM is going to fall deeply in love with the possibilities. He might be a one-year wonder, but he has too much talent and hits too well – he’s a beefed up safety – not to take in the top 100 and let him go. Play him inside or outside – it won’t matter.
Projected Round: Third

6. Cameron Smith, USC

6-2, 238: You know those guys who become Day Three afterthoughts in a draft – Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson – and then turns out to be one of the NFL’s leading tacklers? That might be Smith. He’s a bit too small and doesn’t have the athleticism to make up for it, but he makes a whole lot of stops and is always around the play.
Projected Round: Fourth

5. Vosean Joseph, Florida

6-1, 230: It all started to work in a strong junior season with 93 tackles and four sacks, building off a good sophomore season to become more of a pass rusher and all-around playmaker.

He’s not massive, but he’s big enough to get by on the inside. With his speed and explosive ability, he’ll end up being an outside linebacker once he gets into a camp.

But now he has to be far, far more consistent.

Still growing into his talent and his ability, he’s got everything there to be special, but it didn’t quite translate into every down production. The numbers were more than fine last season, but there were times when he flat disappeared from games.

He was the team’s leading tackler by a mile, though. He was doing something right.

The biggest boom-or-bust linebacker in the draft, there’s a shot everything he brings is coached up a little more and he becomes a dominant force once he gets used to the NFL world. However, it might take some rough days to get to that point.

To put it another way, he could turn into a perennial Pro Bowl talent if the light goes on. It all depends on how quickly a defensive coordinator can find that switch.

Projected Round: Second
Real Value: Third

NEXT: No. 4 NFL Draft Linebacker


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