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Top Five 2022 NFL Draft Prospects- Linebacker

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These guys will be drafted to become the future leaders of NFL defenses as they will blitz the quarterback, cover tight ends, and stuff running backs in the backfield. Today I rank the top five linebacker prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft.

1. Devin Lloyd- Utah

Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Bio: Playing safety, wide receiver, and punter in high school, Devin Lloyd switched to linebacker upon arriving to Utah. By 2019, he was a starter and as a senior he was the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference with eight sacks and four interceptions.

Strengths: Skillset to play any linebacker spot. Checked all the boxes statistically as a senior. Outstandingly aggressive and physical. Keeps shoulder untouched when rushing. Downhill runner to put a pop in the opposing blockers. Eyes stay on the ball carrier through traffic. Slick upper body control allows him to easily shed blocks. Adequate backside acceleration to chase down the play. Face up tackler with wide wingspan. Impressive pass rushing skills with violent hands. Intelligence to make adjustments in coverage.

Weaknesses: Tight lower half and upright as a rusher. Occasional inconsistencies recognizing various blocking schemes. Has had issues dealing with zone blocking. Undisciplined and lacks fluidity on lateral movements. Takes odd angles with poor pad level. Contact balance is just average. Unnecessarily takes himself out of the play against cutbacks. Slow feet and stiff hips in coverage.

Pro Comparison: Mack Wilson

Projected Round: 1

Possible Landing Spot: New England Patriots

2. Nakobe Dean- Georgia

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Bio: The high school Butkus award winner as a senior. Nakobe Dean committed to Georgia as a five star recruit. As a junior, he won the Butkus Award as college football's best linebacker and was a key member of the Bulldogs defense as they won the National Championship.

Strengths: Explosive athlete with instant burst off the snap. Filled up that stat sheet in every important area. Almost always fights through blockers rather than going around them. Fearless through the hole and hits the ball carrier with force. Hand force to hit and disengage from blocks. Agility and speed to cover sideline to sideline. Spies with elite quickness and range. Tackles through his target. Athleticism to cover running backs and tight ends consistently. Good footwork in coverage. Ideal leverage, timing, and burst as a blitzing linebacker.

Weaknesses: Lacks ideal size and length. Built more like a small power back. Average awareness and instincts. Bites on routes too early in coverage. Slow recognition allows blockers to get to the second level. Occasionally gets lost in traffic when plays stretch outside. Average tackling strength in open space. Inconsistent at wrapping up ball carriers.

Pro Comparison: Lavonte David

Projected Round: 1

Possible Landing Spot: Dallas Cowboys

3. Christian Harris- Alabama

Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

Bio: After initially committing to play at Texas A&M, Christian Harris flipped and decided to attend Alabama. Despite playing just wide receiver and safety in high school, he was a starting linebacker as a true freshman. He would go on to start 40 games for the Crimson Tide.

Strengths: Three year starter for Nick Saban's defense. Decent technique and physicality for the position. Turns shoulders to slip under blockers getting to the second level. Fluid hips and quick feet for decisive lateral range. Can match speed of outside runners in pursuit. Good gap stuffer when finding the hole. Gets inside blocker's shoulders to get them off balance. Athleticism to get in the backfield and make plays. Agile and range to make any open field tackle. Half of his career sacks came in playoff matchups.

Weaknesses: High cut frame and up right off the snap. Effort was lacking in some games. Questionable field vision and instincts. Gets out of position due to misreading the blocking scheme. Outside blockers can catch him off guard. Hand fighting needs improvement to get free earlier from blocks. Could be exploited and targeted in obvious passing situations

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Pro Comparison: CJ Mosley

Projected Round: 2

Possible Landing Spot: Denver Broncos

4. Chad Muma- Wyoming

Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming

Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming

Bio: Playing defensive back for most of his high school career, Chad Muma switched to linebacker as a senior. After seeing just limited playing time in his first two years at Wyoming, he broke into the starting line up in 2020 and the following season he led the nation with 142 tackles.

Strengths: Accurate and technically sound as a tackler. Looks to cut off the edge on stretching runs. Averaged over 11 tackles per game in his two seasons as a starter. Looks to de-cleat the ball carrier. Adequate linear speed to get to the sideline. Keeps shoulders even when working from the box. Gets back in coverage and follows the quarterback's eyes. Had three interceptions, with two being pick-sixes, as a senior. Experience on special teams.

Weaknesses: High cut hips with long and thin legs. Inconsistent discipline and patience reading the field. Has a habit of overflowing past the ball carrier in heavy traffic areas. Gets over intense in pursuit and looses leverage. Poor aggression when taking on blockers. Hand usage needs coached up to be able to press and discard blocks. Below average center of gravity tackling in open space. Long strides in coverage.

Pro Comparison: Logan Wilson

Projected Round: 2

Possible Landing Spot: Miami Dolphins

5. Damone Clark- LSU

Damone Clark, LB, LSU

Damone Clark, LB, LSU

Bio: After playing sparingly in his first three seasons at LSU, Damone Clark was finally named a starter as a senior. He finished the season tied for the team lead with 63 tackles and was named first team All-SEC.

Strengths: Exceptional character traits. Wore number 18, given to the LSU player who displays a selfless attitude. Learned a lot playing behind Devin White and Patrick Queen. Consistent physicality play in and play out. Maintains distance from blockers once disengaged. Able to hit that gap and stop short yardage runs. Awareness and instincts improved as his senior year went on. Played his heart out against a tough Alabama squad. Bring the hammer on ball carriers. Great reactional agility to makes stops in the open field.

Weaknesses: Gets fooled by play fakes and looses sight of the ball in pileups. Misdirected by play action. Pursuit speed is a slow build up rather than instantaneous. Must be better at closing the gap by stacking blocks. Average route recognition and playmaking skills in coverage. Poor lateral movements. Underwent spinal fusion surgery to fix a herniated disk and will likely miss entire rookie season.

Pro Comparison: Benardrick McKinney

Projected Round: 2

Possible Landing Spot: Las Vegas Raiders

Other Notable Prospects

Brian Asamoah II- Oklahoma

  • Active feet, small tackle radius

Leo Chenal- Wisconsin

  • Old school thick build, poor agility in coverage

Channing Tindall- Georgia

  • Great positioning, lacks range in space

Quay Walker- Georgia

  • Strong open field tackler, not great quickness

D'Marco Jackson- Appalachian State

  • Great contact balance, average athlete

Brandon Smith- Penn State

  • Impressive athleticism, slow to recognize

Micah McFadden- Indiana

  • Smart and instinctive, lacks ideal size

Chance Campbell- Mississippi

  • Explosive in short areas, subpar play strength

Jack Sanborn- Wisconsin

  • Strong upper body, lacks great play speed

Zakoby McClain- Auburn

  • Great awareness, very thin frame

Darien Butler- Arizona State

  • Physically stout, very undersized

James Skalski- Clemson

  • Old school run defender, poor in coverage

Ellis Brooks- Penn State

  • Highly productive statistically, lacks desired length

Drew White- Notre Dame

  • Tough and quick, small frame

John Ross- Michigan

  • Explosive tackler, light frame could be a concern

Aaron Hansford- Texas A&M

  • Good size, loses sight of the ball in traffic

Nik Bonitto- Oklahoma

  • Solid range in coverage, inconsistent leverage

Terrel Bernard- Baylor

  • Safety like speed, lacks size and strength

Dominque Robinson- Miami Ohio

  • Rare length for the position, thin lower body

Jeremiah Gemmel- North Carolina

  • Technically sound, light frame with no room to grow

Darrian Beavers- Cincinnati

  • Prototype frame, poor short area quickness

Amare Barno- Virginia Tech

  • Great length, very thin frame

Jojo Domann- Nebraska

  • Works well in space, lacks size

Troy Andersen- Montana State

  • Solid athlete, needs to add mass

Boye Mafe- Minnesota

  • Strong and sure tackler, slow to process

Baylor Spector- Clemson

  • Agile footwork, small wingspan

Jesse Luketa- Penn State

  • Positional versatility, tweener build

Jeremiah Moon- Florida

  • Speedy as a pass rusher, stiff lower half

Christopher Allen- Alabama

  • Sturdy run defender, average get off speed

Sam Williams- Mississippi

  • Physically gifted, lazy tendancies

Cameron Goode- California

  • Coached up pass rusher, puzzling body type

Mike Rose- Iowa State

  • Enormous run defender, speed is lacking

Nephi Sewell- Utah

  • Smart player, undersized frame

Carson Wells- Colorado

  • Great tackle radius, weak hands

Kuony Deng- California

  • Rare frame, technically needs refinement

Malcom Rodriguez- Oklahoma State

  • Great athleticism, lacking ideal size

Clarence Hicks- Texas San Antonio

  • Agile and powerful in space, slender frame

Isaiah Graham-Mobley- Boston College

  • High motor player, plays himself out of position

Kyron Johnson- Kansas

  • Quickness to make plays, very undersized


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