Linebackers are run-first defenders most of the time. They love to track the run and make tackles. With teams throwing the ball more, however, second-level defenders are being asked to be better in coverage. The ones who aren't simply get replaced on third downs and in passing situations, which limits their playing time.
So the trend at the LB position now is that either you can cover to play all three downs or be labeled a "Two-down guy," which limits your value as a player.
Last year, in the 2013 class, we had a LB prospect who was just fantastic in coverage in Jaylon Smith, who signed with Notre Dame. Smith was not only a great athlete, but he also had loose hips, smooth transition and coverage quickness to guard slot WRs, RBs and TEs.
This year, I'm not sure I see a LB in Smith's class as far as coverage skills go, but there are some solid cover 'backers. For the following piece, I'm going to power rank the top guys at the LB position in the 2014 class who are good in coverage.