NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top Linebackers

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 11, 2017

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Draft's Top Linebackers

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    The 2017 NFL draft class features elite talents at the top of the board in Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette. After that? This is one of the deepest classes in the six years I've been scouting at Bleacher Report. 

    Stacking the board top to bottom for the '17 class was no easy task. There are a record-breaking number of first-round talents on my board. Outside of Round 1, it was easy to imagine putting 60 of the top players into the top 40. If you can't find starters in Round 4 of this class, you're doing it wrong. 

    So who is the best overall? How about the best at each position? The goal of the NFL Draft 400 series is to figure that out. 

    The top 400 players were tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by me and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal, and Connor Rogers. Together, we viewed tape of a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use). Oftentimes, we saw every play by a prospect over the last two years. That led to the grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players were graded on strengths and weaknesses, with a pro-player comparison added to match the player's style or fit in the pros. The top 400 players will be broken down position by position for easy viewing before the release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft.

    In the case of a tie, players were ranked based on their overall grade in our top 400.

    Here are the top linebackers for the 2017 NFL draft.

Matt Miller's NFL Draft Grading Scale

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    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a final grade that falls somewhere between 4.00 and 9.00. This scale comes from the teaching I received from Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front office personnel in the NFL. I tweaked it this year to be more transparent, and as a result, each player received a number grade as well as a ranking.

    This applies to all positions across the board.

    Matt Miller's NFL Draft Grading Scale
    GradeLabel
    9.00Elite—No. 1 pick
    8.00-8.99All-Pro—Rare Talent
    7.50-7.99Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential
    7.00-7.49Round 1—Top-15 Player Potential
    6.50-6.99Round 2—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    6.00-6.49Round 3—Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.80-5.99Round 3-4—Future Starter
    5.70-5.79Round 4—Backup Caliber
    5.60-5.69Round 5—Backup Caliber
    5.30-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.10-5.25Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

38. Pita Taumoepenu, Utah

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'1 1/4"243 lbs4.6732 3/8"6.98s 


    POSITIVES

    Pita Taumoepenu started just seven games in college but was an impressive role player before the 2016 season. He has lined up at both defensive end and linebacker, and he showed the first-step quickness to make plays at each position. Taumoepenu is able to stun blockers with his quickness and can get a jump to make plays in the backfield. He has the balance and body control to be effective on the move. Taumoepenu has some upside as a pass-rusher in passing situations thanks to his quickness and burst. He's a high-motor player with excellent character.

     

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of size and length will cause Taumoepenu to slide to linebacker in the NFL, but he could still see time as a situational rusher. He doesn't have the base strength to be an anchor in the run game on the defensive line. Taumoepenu has a bit of a 'tweener body without the skill set to play linebacker right away. He cannot beat blockers with length, and he struggles to come off once he's locked up. Taumoepenu is a developmental player who will need to dive into a special teams role while learning the game and likely transitioning to linebacker full time.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jonathan Freeny, New England Patriots 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

37. Tau Lotulelei, UNLV

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    5'11 7/8"235 lbs4.78s31 1/8"6.94s

     

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter, Tau Lotulelei has awesome football DNA, as his older brother John played linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars, and his cousin Star was a first-rounder in the 2013 draft. Lotulelei plays with a fire and intensity that scouts will love. As a former high school wrestler, he plays with great angles and leverage in the run game and knows how to use his hands to get free from blockers. A versatile defender, Lotulelei finished with 117 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season. He doesn't tout the athletic upside of some higher-ranked prospects, but Lotulelei's drive and discipline could make him a steal.

     

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of length and functional athleticism are limitations Lotulelei will struggle to overcome. With 31 ⅛" arms, he's going to struggle freeing himself from blockers or properly stacking them up at the line. The anchor isn't there for Lotulelei when facing a guard or tackle at the second level due to a lack of size. His long speed isn't great for coverage despite having nice short-area quickness in the box.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: John Lotulelei, Dallas Cowboys 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

36. Marcus Oliver, Indiana

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 5/8"240 lbsN/A31 7/8"N/A

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Indiana, Marcus Oliver posted over 200 tackles in the last two seasons with 22 tackles for loss, five sacks, nine forced fumbles and two interceptions. A junior entry into the draft, Oliver displayed the patience, aggression, physicality and closing speed to be an active tackler in a 4-3 defense. In pass protection, he has the range to impact the game and touts the awareness to locate the ball. He showed off his strength with 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench at his pro day. Oliver is a good enough all-around athlete to be developed into a player in the pros.

     

    NEGATIVES

    With below-average height and length, Oliver can struggle to free himself to make plays in the run game. He's much better at cutting through traffic to find the ball than when asked to anchor and set the edge. As a projected inside linebacker, he has to become better at using his hands to get free from a block. Oliver's agility times were better than his film shows, and his stiff hips limit how well he can change direction. He'll likely be limited to a backup role unless his instincts and awareness develop quickly.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Paul Dawson, Cincinnati Bengals 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

35. James Onwualu, Notre Dame

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 7/8"230 lbs4.75s32 1/4"7.25s

     

    POSITIVES

    A former wide receiver, James Onwualu was one of the most talented high school players in the country when he signed at Notre Dame in 2013. He saw the field as a true freshman and eventually became a starter at linebacker. A senior captain, Onwualu showed positional versatility in the Notre Dame defense and can play outside or inside linebacker. He's a smart, high-character player who his teammates love, and he has the tools to fight for a roster spot in the NFL. However, his tools project as a backup or special teams player only.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Onwualu doesn't run like a former offensive weapon. His lack of height and length are an issue when matching up in coverage. He can be timid at the point of attack and doesn't finish tackles. Onwualu must gain strength, but he also needs to become more aggressive and urgent in his tackling process. He's not fast enough to play in pursuit or strong enough to shed blockers. Onwualu has to be stronger and play with more of a mean-natured style.

     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Neville Hewitt, Miami Dolphins 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

34. Jimmie Gilbert, Colorado

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'4 1/8"234 lbs4.66s32 7/8"N/A

     

    POSITIVES

    A part-time starter until 2016, Jimmie Gilbert is a tall, lean, athletic linebacker with positional versatility. As a senior, he finished with 10.5 sacks, an insane six forced fumbles, 14 tackles for loss and 51 tackles while lining up as an edge-rusher most frequently. Gilbert has the length and quick first steps to see the field as a situational pass-rusher as a rookie. The former prep basketball star is athletic enough to handle the NFL if he's brought along slowly and can be developed.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Gilbert's lack of play power is a big concern on his tape. He's long and can create separation from blockers, but he can't redirect once they have their hands on him. He's more quick than fast and is a build-up sprinter with long strides and average hip flexibility and burst. Gilbert has limited football experience and has been labeled as a one-trick pony. He'll need to be taught coverage skills.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Trevor Reilly, Miami Dolphins 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.10/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

33. Austin Calitro, Villanova

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 ½"239 lbs4.67sN/A6.96s

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Villanova, Austin Calitro is a smart, hard-working, high-motor player. He's quick to read and react, and he gets into position to make plays on the run with squared shoulders and good leverage at the point of attack. Calitro is an explosive hitter and will look to make big plays when he gets a ball-carrier in his sights. In coverage, Calitro was around the ball often and has good awareness in zone drops. He's strong enough and has the required bulk to play in the middle of an NFL defense.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Calitro lacks the length and speed for the NFL. He'll get caught behind the play and doesn't have the recovery speed to pursue to the edge. He's a limited, box linebacker in terms of movement. His short arms make it difficult for him to get off blockers, and his short-area quickness and hip fluidity are limited. Calitro has to get to the ball ahead of the play based on instincts, and he'll struggle to beat anyone athletically in the NFL. He projects as a backup and special teams player.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Tyler Matakevich, Pittsburgh Steelers  

    FINAL GRADE: 5.10/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

32. Riley Bullough, Michigan State

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'1 5/8"226 lbs4.71s31 1/4"7.00s

     

    POSITIVES

    It's hard to top the football bloodlines Riley Bullough brings to the table. He's a third-generation Michigan State player and the fourth linebacker in the family to play for the Spartans. Bullough is doing the family proud with his hard-charging, tough style of play. He plays the game in an old-school way, with his first step forward and a mentality to do damage. His awareness and toughness make him a productive player, with over 200 career tackles in two years of starting. Bullough will play through pain, as he proved last season by suiting up with a broken shoulder blade.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Bullough is an undersized linebacker with poor length and athleticism. He's an effort player with a great motor, but his lack of speed and length will be massive hurdles to getting on the field in the NFL. While versatile, Bullough doesn't tout the size to line up in the middle of the field or the speed to play outside in space. Because he's short-armed, Bullough doesn't have the clean stack-and-shed technique NFL teams want. The best move would be bulking up to play "Mike" linebacker. He'll have to get on the field early with special teams play.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Max Bullough, Houston Texans 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.10/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

31. Ukeme Eligwe, Georgia Southern

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'1 5/8"234 lbs4.58sN/A7.16s

     

    POSITIVES

    After originally signing at Florida State, Ukeme Eligwe played with the Seminoles for two seasons. He played just one season at Georgia Southern, but he showed the tools and production to merit an All-Sun Belt honorable mention. He's a big, physical player with the burst and closing speed to get into the backfield. Eligwe has the natural instincts and athleticism to chase ball-carriers and get into position to make plays. In the passing game, he has the size and speed to be a threat in man coverage against even athletic tight ends or some slot receivers. Eligwe plays the ball in the air well and has a playmaker mentality. He needs work, but he's been a promising special teams player in the past and could carve out a role in the pros.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Just one season of starting experience is a problem. Teams will have to check Eligwe's background, as he was dismissed from Florida State. Limited experience and off-field questions make him a late-rounder or priority free agent. Eligwe will need a patient coach to develop his tools and help slow the game down for him. He too frequently appears frozen by indecision. He'll have to speed up his feet when staying square to the line of scrimmage to better play the outside run in the NFL.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Carl Bradford, San Francisco 49ers  

    FINAL GRADE: 5.10/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

30. Calvin Munson, San Diego State

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 5/8"245 lbs4.71s31"N/A

     

    POSITIVES

    A former prep baseball star in Missouri, Calvin Munson has developed into a physical, attacking linebacker with three seasons of starts under his belt. Munson was incredibly active and productive at SDSU, notching over 300 tackles, 18 sacks and 36.5 tackles along with seven interceptions. His range from the outside linebacker position is impressive, and he's able to make zone drops or man up tight ends in coverage. Munson is a reliable, durable, instinctive linebacker with the football IQ, awareness and ball skills to work his way into a linebacker rotation.

     

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of size and athleticism will be an issue for Munson, who is just over 6'0" tall and ran a poor 4.71 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. Munson's short-area quickness has to be better, and in the NFL, he won't always be able to rely on his diagnosing skills to stay ahead of the ball. His lateral shuffle to track the ball can be heavy. Munson doesn't show great closing speed when pulling the chain to run alleys to the ball. A lack of height and length will hurt him in man coverage.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Blake Martinez, Green Bay Packers 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.15/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

29. Hardy Nickerson, Illinois

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    5'11 5/8"232 lbs4.72s32"7.30s

     

    POSITIVES

    The son of a former NFL linebacker with the same name, Hardy Nickerson started for four years in college—three at California and one as a graduate transfer at Illinois. He's a physical, downhill player with excellent motor and instincts. A natural middle linebacker, Nickerson has the eyes and anticipation to make plays, and he notched a team-high 107 tackles in 2016 while playing in a new scheme. He's instinctive enough to sniff out run plays and won't get caught out of position by play action or misdirection. Nickerson is solid and dependable between the hashes.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Too many of Nickerson's big plays come down the field. He's making his tackles away from the line of scrimmage, and blockers can push him back and put him on skates at the point of attack. Poor timed speed shows up on tape, and Nickerson will struggle to keep ahead of the play in the NFL without better pursuit skills. His short-area quickness was also disappointing, which suggests he'll struggle to change direction both in pursuit and in coverage. You have to love the pedigree and motor, but he's not big enough or athletic enough to be an NFL starter.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jordan Tripp, Green Bay Packers  

    FINAL GRADE: 5.15/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

28. Jordan Evans, Oklahoma

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'2 7/8"232 lbs4.60s31"7.09s

     

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter, Jordan Evans has the frame of an NFL linebacker. He lined up in the middle of the field and was often put on an island to make plays in space, especially in sub-packages. Oklahoma used Evans on blitzes, and he was able to notch 2.5 sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss in 2016. He can step up into the hole to take on blockers, and he understands how to maintain leverage. Evans has the body to play any of the three 4-3 linebacker spots.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Soft, soft, soft. Evans is inconsistent with effort and has poor body language. He will struggle to come off blockers and make plays in the run game, as he gets too caught up in knocking the blocker back and not finding the ball. Missed tackles were also an issue for Evans, as backs were able to run through his arms. He can be slow to react, and he likes to wait flat-footed for the play to develop. Evans gives more bang taking on blockers than he does as a hitter. He's a non-factor in coverage due to stiffness. Coaches who spoke with B/R were not high on Evans' love of the game or his commitment to improving. 
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Kentrell Brothers, Minnesota Vikings 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.25/9.00 (Undrafted Free Agent)

27. Charmeachealle Moore, Kansas State

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    5'11 ½"229 lbs4.61s31 3/8"6.89s

     

    POSITIVES

    A one-year starter at Kansas State, Charmeachealle Moore has overcome a lot to get to this point. He's a smaller athlete but flashes in short areas with excellent quickness and an aggressive, tough style of play that's unexpected from a 229-pounder. Moore's short-area quickness could get him on the field, especially in coverage, where he's able to easily change direction. His determination to make a play is phenomenal, and he's running on a nonstop motor with no fear on the field. Moore has upside left in his frame and his game. His heart and physical style could make him a mainstay on special teams.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Moore will be 25 years old in January after grayshirting in 2011 and redshirting in 2014. He has battled kidney disease and a brain tumor in the past. Moore is small with short arms (31 ⅜"), and he lacks the twitchy athleticism you need as a smaller player. He also doesn't have the play power to stack up blockers, and his football instincts are still being developed in live action after seeing the field so little throughout the last six years.  
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Ben Heeney, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 5.25/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

26. Ben Boulware, Clemson

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0"238 lbs4.83s30 1/2"7.02s

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter and 2016 team captain, Ben Boulware is a rugged, tough, mean player at weak-side linebacker. He has a nonstop motor and is a talker on and off the field. Boulware has the intensity and drive NFL teams want every player to have. He's strong and has excellent weight-room dedication, and he brings that energy to the field. He was all over the field for the Tigers, grabbing 131 tackles with 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in 2016. He's instinctive, smart and quick to read the play. Boulware's aggressiveness motivates the entire unit. He looks to run through traffic and isn't afraid of taking on a pulling guard or fullback to get to a running back.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Boulware is all heart, but he lacks the height, length and athleticism teams want in a starting-caliber linebacker. His 30 ½" arms are well below average, and his 4.83 speed is poor for a linebacker. Boulware's aggressive style can run him out of the play, as he's susceptible to play action and misdirection. He's not patient and will let his eyes fool him. Boulware's lack of athleticism and length will limit what he can do in coverage at the next level. He is a great guy and a player everyone would love having on their team, but his limitations make him a late-rounder.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Scooby Wright, Arizona Cardinals  

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

25. Matt Milano, Boston College

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 ½"223 lbs4.67s32"N/A

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Boston College, Matt Milano seemingly never left the field while racking up 28.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and 118 tackles over the last two seasons. Milano is a small, chiseled linebacker with excellent instincts and range. He's quick to diagnose plays, and he runs with reckless abandon. Milano doesn't let his limited size get in the way of taking on blockers, and he does a solid job setting the edge. An experienced and accomplished blitzer, Milano has the timing, quick feet and tight hips to make the turn and get into the backfield coming off the edge. He's fast enough to run with backs and tight ends in coverage. Milano could be a strong NFL special teams player.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Milano is small with limited speed, making him a liability against NFL blockers and when matched up in coverage against tight ends. He's a fit only for the 4-3 scheme, and he'll have to play in a "Sam" role. With a narrow frame, it's possible Milano is maxed out physically and wouldn't be able to add the bulk to better handle blockers and make plays in traffic. A lack of twitch in his game makes Milano a gamble outside of the later rounds of the draft.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: D.J. Alexander, Kansas City Chiefs 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

24. Steven Taylor, Houston

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 ½"228 lbs4.85s30 7/8"N/A

     

    POSITIVES

    Stepen Taylor was a four-year starter at Houston with a knack for the big play. He's a fantastic blitzer with the production to match, having racked up 83 quarterback pressures over last two seasons, per Pro Football Focus. Taylor takes sharp, direct angles to the ball-carrier, and he throws his body around against bigger opponents with little fear. He understands coverage responsibilities and can hold his own playing zone. Taylor can play inside or outside linebacker and has experience at both. His athletic skill set indicates he could be a three-down defender. Taylor also has the tools to work on special teams.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Taylor is undersized, and he doesn't make up for it in athleticism department. He was suspended for one game in 2016 for violating team rules. Taylor will not be able to consistently take on NFL blockers and work through traffic. He has to be kept clean to succeed and might be regulated to a special teams role.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: L.J. Fort, Pittsburgh Steelers  

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 7)

23. Tanner Vallejo, Boise State

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'1 1/4"228 lbs4.65s30 1/2"N/A

     

    POSITIVES

    A four-year starter, Tanner Vallejo is all over the field when you turn on the film. Vallejo is an aggressive weak-side linebacker with the skills to find the football. He has quick instincts and tracks the ball well in the run game. He's also agile in pass coverage and has a natural feel for where to be. Vallejo is quick enough to cover up tight ends and can even kick out to the slot to match up there. He's tougher and more physical than his size might indicate. He has no timid bones in his body, and he's eager to seek out contact. Vallejo is a finisher when meeting the ball-carrier and is a solid tackler in space. His eye-popping production and willingness to fight through injuries have scouts talking about him as a sleeper.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Vallejo was plagued by injuries during each of the last two seasons, which makes it difficult to assess his tape. He is undersized and did not test well for his frame at the combine. With poor play power and length, he'll struggle to get off blockers at the pro level. Vallejo doesn't show the pop in his hands to get free from fullbacks, even. If asked to be a gap-plugger, Vallejo will get put on skates or dumped on his rear. He lacks the power and leverage to play chest-to-chest with any level of pro blocker. A slow 40 time (4.67 seconds) at his size will turn teams off. 
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Khaseem Greene, Kansas City Chiefs 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.65/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 6)

22. Harvey Langi, BYU

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm LengthHand Size
    6'1 ½"292 lbsN/A32"¾"

     

    POSITIVES

    A versatile two-year starter, Harvey Langi played both defensive end and linebacker at BYU over the last 24 games after playing running back at Utah during his freshman season. Langi is a natural athlete with great size, strength and agility. He seeks out contact like a former running back, and he isn't afraid to get physical with blockers or ball-carriers. He has the strong legs and violent arms and hands of a former offensive player, too. Langi's burst in closing on the ball is impressive. He has the hips to unlock and run with tight ends down the seam. With his length and size, Langi could develop into a strong coverage 'backer.    

     

    NEGATIVES

    Langi, who will turn 25 in November, is an older prospect after spending a season at Utah, two years on a church mission and then three seasons at BYU. His instincts and awareness on defense are still being developed, which means a team must be patient with his acclimation to the NFL and to a more permanent position after he spent time at three different spots in three seasons. Because he was moved around so often, Langi lacks timing and positional discipline. He can be late to the ball at times and seems to be thinking more than reacting.   
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Shea McClellin, New England Patriots 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.65/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 6)

21. Ben Gedeon, Michigan

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'1 3/4"244 lbs4.75s32 5/8"6.98s

     

    POSITIVES

    A strong, stout middle linebacker, Ben Gedeon started for just one season at Michigan but was a stud on special teams before the 2016 season. Gedeon has an NFL frame and would fill the role of a thumper in a 3-4 defense with how powerful he is at the point of attack. He plays with natural leverage when taking on blockers and can shed and still get to the ball. With ideal length and excellent strength, pencil Gedeon in as a 3-4 inside linebacker. He's a quick processor in the run game despite just one year starting, and he has the burst to fill gaps and stick ball-carriers between the tackles.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Gedeon has to keep the ball in front of him; otherwise, he loses his pursuit angle and can get caught falling behind the play. His hips are locked up and he's not great pulling the chain and running outside the hashes. He'll come off the field in the NFL against the pass unless he can improve his quickness and hand use against tight ends. Gedeon is a solid backup inside 'backer prospect and will be a special teams captain, but his upside is limited athletically.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Nick Bellore, Detroit Lions  

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 5)

20. Paul Magloire, Arizona

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    5'11 5/8"225 lbs4.58s31 5/8"6.92s

     

    POSITIVES

    Originally signed at Appalachian State in 2012, Paul Magloire spent two seasons there and then headed to Arizona Western for a season before landing at Arizona in 2015. He started 19 games with the Wildcats and became a playmaker at linebacker. Magloire is a high-motor, energetic leader on defense who emerged as a three-down threat with great versatility. The Arizona defense asked him to play in the slot, at safety, at inside linebacker and at home in his weak-side linebacker position. Magloire is a potential defensive weapon with matchup skills against tight ends thanks to his speed and instincts. He's a tough, solid player with some upside given his limited time at a major program.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Magloire's football travels left him as an older prospect—he'll turn 25 in December. Small linebackers have to be quick and fluid, and Magloire's tape shows too much hip stiffness and heavy feet when he's asked to change direction. He doesn't slide and flow laterally, and he can be slow to explode into a run to track the ball. Magloire isn't a downhill player. He doesn't have the speed to make up ground in coverage if beaten off the line of scrimmage. A lack of size makes his job difficult if asked to jam at the line of scrimmage or shed blockers.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Su'a Cravens, Washington 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Developmental Player—Round 5)

19. Dylan Cole, Missouri State

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 1/8"233 lbs4.52s31 7/8"6.82s

     

    POSITIVES

    A four-year starter at Missouri State, Dylan Cole finished with more than 450 career tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and five interceptions. Cole is an NFL athlete with the instincts in the run and pass game to quickly acclimate to a bigger level of competition. He's aggressive getting into the backfield to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Cole shoots through gaps with speed and perfect timing. He's mean, tough and plays pissed off. A senior captain, Cole managed 32 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press and ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. He's weight-room strong, but he carries that strength and speed to the field and uses his skills on every down. Cole can play "Sam" linebacker in most schemes and may even see time as a "Will" or "Mike" thanks to his athleticism.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Cole is short with short arms (31 ⅞"), and he played against small competition in college. He wasn't picked up by the Shrine Bowl or Senior Bowl and had to perform against third-tier players in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl instead. Cole's ability to stack up blockers is underdeveloped, and despite great bench-press strength, his lack of length will make creating separation between himself and a lead blocker tough. Playing against NFL speed will require Cole to speed up his processing skills.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Zach Brown, Washington  

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Developmental Player—Round 5)

18. Marquel Lee, Wake Forest

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'3 1/4"240 lbs4.78s32 1/2"7.28s

     

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter, Marquel Lee is one of the most aggressive, active players in the linebacker class. Lee has a great build with the required play power to stack up blockers and make plays in the backfield. He's surprisingly flexible and agile for a big man. He can open up his hips and fly to the ball from his spot in the middle of the field. Lee went off in 2016 with 105 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. His instincts and reaction time are NFL-level in the run game. A natural leader and captain, Lee can handle the responsibility of the "Mike" position. In a 3-4 defense, he has the size, instincts and run defense skills to take one of the inside 'backer spots.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Average athleticism will hurt Lee in the pros. He's not quick enough to pull the chain against speedy backs and can get caught trying to chase from behind. Lee's coverage skills leave something to be desired as he can struggle to run with speed at the college level. His instincts in the pass game seem slow, and he can be late to react. He'll have to work on short-area agility and speed while learning the timing of the pro game. Lee would likely be a two-down player early on and will have to make his bones on special teams. 
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Ramik Wilson, Kansas City Chiefs 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Backup Caliber—Round 5)

17. Elijah Lee, Kansas State

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'2 ½"229 lbs4.69s31 1/2"7.05s

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Kansas State, Elijah Lee left school early for the NFL draft. Lee had great production over the last three years, totaling 18.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks while also grabbing five interceptions and notching 10 passes defensed. He's athletic enough to move down the line and track the ball, mirroring ball-carriers and sliding through traffic. He can pull the trigger and come downhill as a tackler. Lee is fast enough to stay in front of the ball and rarely over-runs the play. Early in his career, Lee was used as more of a pass-rusher, and in that role, he showed promise with burst and timing.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Lee wasn't invited to the combine—generally a bad sign for an underclassman. His pro-day times were not good for an undersized linebacker selling himself on athleticism. Lee is undersized with little experience and inconsistent play. His play power won't allow him to get off blockers in the NFL. He's short-armed (31 ½") and doesn't possess the explosive strength to shed once a blocker gets his hands on him. Lee's instincts can be slow, and he relied on speed to get into position to make plays. An upside player, Lee is a fit in a 4-3 scheme, but he's undersized and could struggle to become an every-down player.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals  

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 4)

16. Connor Harris, Lindenwood

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    5'11 1/8"242 lbs4.73s30 1/8"7.13s

     

    POSITIVES

    A four-year starter with amazing college production, Connor Harris had over 600 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, 20 passes defensed and six interceptions in his 48 games. The standout quarterback at Missouri prep powerhouse Blue Springs South transformed himself into one of the nation's best linebackers. He's an instinctive, powerful downhill linebacker with quick diagnosing skills and the strength to stack up running backs in the hole. Against top competition at the Senior Bowl, Harris established himself as capable of playing with big-boy talent. Harris seemingly never left the field in college and showed himself as a viable cover man, run defender and A-gap blitzer. He's quick, smart, powerful and a team-first leader. Harris could surprise as a rookie starter or serious contributor, especially in a 3-4 defense.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Coming from a tiny college, Harris has rarely faced NFL-caliber talent or scheming. He's a short, short-armed player whose flexibility is questionable. You might need a combination to unlock Harris' hips. He can be late in coverage with his steps and will get sucked up into the box with play action. He's supercharged and active, which can take him out of the play. Height and length are big requirements in today's NFL, and Harris falls low on those marks, which could kick him down some draft boards. He doesn't have the speed to turn and run with NFL tight ends up the seam.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Chris Borland, retired 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 4)

15. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Tennessee

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 3/8"230 lbsINJ32 1/4"INJ

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Tennessee, Jalen Reeves-Maybin is an impressive athlete with over 100 tackles in each of his two seasons at weak-side linebacker. His tape shows strong diagnosing skills and the speed to make plays once he finds the ball. Reeves-Maybin has the balance and agility to slide laterally and track the run. He's twitchy and fluid on the move, showing the burst to close on the ball on the ground and in the air. As an A-gap blitzer, Reeves-Maybin has the tools to be effective thanks to his speed and instincts, but he wasn't used often in this role. His body control and timing in coverage are NFL-caliber. Reeves-Maybin could become an NFL starter in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Reeves-Maybe was ejected in the 2016 season opener for targeting, and then he re-injured a torn labrum he suffered in 2016 spring practice and sat out the final nine games of the year following surgery for a biceps subluxation. A history of shoulder injuries is scary for a linebacker, and Reeves-Maybin's stock has been affected by his past and by his inability to work out throughout the predraft process. How well he'll come back mentally and physically from two shoulder surgeries in such a short amount of time remains to be seen. Reeves-Maybin's play power was never great to begin with, and it could be an issue post-surgery. An undersized linebacker without great power and a history of bad shoulders? That's likely to push Reeves-Maybin to the middle rounds.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Sean Spence, Indianapolis Colts 

    FINAL GRADE: 5.99/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 4)

14. Jayon Brown, UCLA

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0"231 lbs4.56s31 3/8"7.20s

     

    POSITIVES

    When Myles Jack went down, Jayon Brown took over the starting linebacker job and never looked back. With 21 starts over the last two years, Brown proved himself as a three-down weapon, amassing 212 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks and three interceptions over that span. Brown is an athlete with the speed, short-area quickness and burst to play as a 4-3 or 3-4 outside linebacker. He's a true downhill hitter with excellent wrap-up tackle skills. He's reliable, disciplined and smart about his angles and pursuit speed. Brown can play in space, too, and understands coverages. He'll match up well against tight ends in the NFL with his speed and strength to play physical at the line of scrimmage. Brown is still developing his football instincts, but his aggressive style and playmaking skills are NFL-caliber.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Brown has a small, narrow frame ,and his play power matches it. He's not a stack-and-shed linebacker, but instead needs to pursue from behind the ball. He'll stay away from contact and prefers to operate in space. Setting the edge is out of the question against NFL lead blockers. Brown's frame doesn't suggest he could add weight or bulk. Brown's instincts are not where you'd like them to be, and he's currently able to cover up poor diagnosing skills with his athleticism. He's more of a developmental prospect with a high enough upside grade to be considered in the top 100. 

     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: DeAndre Levy, Free Agent

    FINAL GRADE: 6.00/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 3)

13. Blair Brown, Ohio

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    5'11 1/2"238 lbs4.65s31 1/4"6.92s

     

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter, Blair Brown is an every-down player with the skills to step right into a 4-3 defense as a weak-side linebacker. He's an attacking, aggressive playmaker who finished with 128 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks as a senior. He's quick to fill holes in the run game and has the processing skills to pull the chain and get into the backfield. Brown's eyes and instincts are top-notch. His awareness against misdirection allows him to stay disciplined and maintain his assignment. Brown's best traits show up in how quickly he's able to read the play and get himself into position to make plays. He's an instinctive downhill thumper.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Brown is undersized, with poor length (31 ¼") and average straight-line speed. Using length to break off blockers will be a struggle for him in the NFL. In coverage, Brown can disappear. His agility in space can be less than ideal—even playing against Mid-American Conference opponents, he was falling behind tight ends and receivers in coverage. His recovery speed in the run and pass games are lacking, too.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: De'Vondre Campbell, Atlanta Falcons  

    FINAL GRADE: 6.25/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 3)

12. Kendell Beckwith, LSU

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm LengthHand Size
    6'2 1/4"243 lbsINJ33"INJ

     

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter, Kendell Beckwith has an ideal build for a thumping middle linebacker with long arms. A first-team All-SEC player as a senior, Beckwith finished with more than 75 tackles in each of the last three seasons. He attacks downhill, looking to lower the boom with shoulders like boulders. Beckwith will do the dirty work in the muck by taking on contact and freeing up space for other defenders to make a play. He never assumes a play is over and loves to help out teammates. As a gap shooter that loves to blow up runs with above-average recognition, Beckwith has the patience and sixth sense to sniff out screens with wise routes to the target. He's an experienced blitzer with the size and timing to be effective on A-gap pressures.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Beckwith is recovering from a late-season ACL tear and was not able to participate in the Senior Bowl, the combine or LSU's pro day. Beckwith also hurt his LCL in spring practice before the 2016 season. His film shows limited range, and he can struggle in coverage and against outside runs. His lateral movement is mediocre at best. Even before his knee injury, Beckwith's speed on film was average. Inside the box, Beckwith is fine, but he struggles when asked to make plays outside the tackles. False steps show up too often on film, and he'll need to clean up his angles to the ball-carrier. 
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Reggie Ragland, Buffalo Bills 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.30/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 3)

11. Anthony Walker, Northwestern

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 5/8"238 lbs4.65s30 3/8"7.23s

     

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter, Anthony Walker was nicknamed 'The Franchise' by his own university, and he lived up to the hype. He's a playmaker who lives for disruption against both the pass and run game. Walker rarely comes off the field, and he has undeniable passion and will. He welcomes contact and will come across the field to get in on the action, looking to help teammates on plays most would give up on. Walker sets up lunging blockers with patience and timely routes to get past them. He sees plays before they happen and doesn't allow running backs to freely leave the backfield into routes. Walker has great awareness and steps in to cut off middle-of-the-field routes without having to look at the receiver or tight end.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Walker has short arms and a limited frame to carry middle linebacker mass. His aggression leads to him hitting wrong gaps and biting on play fakes. Walker's feet can get stuck in quicksand and lost in traffic. He relies on instincts and field vision in coverage and will lose on athleticism at times at next level. Walker needs to consistently drive tackles with his lower body at the next level. 
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.30/9.00 (Rookie Impact—Round 3)

10. Alex Anzalone, Florida

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'2 7/8"241 lbs4.62s32 1/8"6.88s

     

    POSITIVES

    Alex Anzalone won the starting job at Florida twice, but injuries limited him to starting only 10 games. In those appearances, he showed excellent athleticism and speed. Anzalone played as a weak-side linebacker and has the range and instincts to excel in space. He has natural movement skills and feels the play well moving laterally. He's quick to pull the chain and can get into the backfield to make splash plays against the run. In coverage, Anzalone uses his length well and has the quickness to run with tight ends. He left school early for the draft but had already graduated and was able to perform at the Senior Bowl, where he was impressive. Anzalone has the tools to develop as a starting-caliber weak-side 'backer.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Injuries piled up for Anzalone at Florida. He tore his labrum as a freshman and had to have it repaired in 2015, which cost him the season. He broke his arm in 2016, shutting him down after just eight games. His play strength is average and will show when blockers lock him up in the run game. He's not quick or strong to stack and shed, and he can get passed up by the play. Anzalone's instincts are still being developed, and he isn't at his best versus misdirection and play action.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Kiko Alonso, Miami Dolphins 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.40/9.00 (Future Starter—Round 3)

9. Vince Biegel, Wisconsin

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm LengthHand Size
    6'3 1/4"246 lbs4.67s32 3/8"6.92s

     

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at Wisconsin, Vince Biegel is a versatile player with the tools to play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. The Wisconsin defense often asked him to rush off the edge, and in that role, he produced 18.5 sacks over the last three seasons. Biegel can set the edge in the run game and has the size and strength to handle tackles coming off the line of scrimmage and getting into his body. A senior captain, Biegel has excellent football awareness and is an effort player who wears down blockers over the course of a game. As a pass-rusher, he brings power and short-area quickness, which helps him get offensive tackles back on their heels. Biegel played through a cracked right foot in the 2016 season. He's a tough, aggressive player with upside as a linebacker or situational pass-rusher in the pros. Some teams may see his tools and pass-rushing skills and ask Biegel to gain 10 pounds and play outside linebacker.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Teams will need to vet the foot injury that Biegel played through. He isn't comfortable in coverage and was mostly asked to play moving forward in college. Biegel has a long, lean frame that could add muscle if he's used more down at the line of scrimmage. In general, he needs to improve his play power to better stack-and-shed blockers. Biegel isn't a quick-twitch athlete and instead has build-up speed. To turn the corner as a rusher, he needs space to make the curve, and he doesn't have the hips to be an effective rusher. Biegel will be a 24-year old rookie, too, raising concerns about his long-term upside.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Rookie Starter—Round 2)

8. Ryan Anderson, Alabama

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'2"253 lbs4.74s31 1/2"7.73s

     

    POSITIVES

    Ryan Anderson started only one season at Alabama, but he was a major contributor in 2015 as a pass-rusher before taking the starting strong-side linebacker role in 2016. Anderson has excellent football instincts, awareness and motor. He's a strong, physical player with great power in his thick lower body. Anderson plays with a tough-guy demeanor and is a physical attacker. He's a leader who coaches and teammates loved. Across his four-year career, Anderson produced 40 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks to go along with six forced fumbles. He knows how to use every tool in his toolbox to win battles. As a 4-3 strong-side linebacker, he could do a lot of good in the run game and as a pass-rusher. Like most Nick Saban products, Anderson is well-coached, disciplined, developed and physically ready to play in the pros.

     

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of explosive speed and short arms are why Anderson is looked at more as a linebacker and less as a pass-rusher. In the NFL, he'll likely do a little of both, especially in sub-packages. NFL teams will need to investigate his off-field background, as Anderson was arrested for third-degree domestic violence involving property damage in 2015 (the victim was also arrested). Anderson hasn't been asked to do much in pass coverage and will have to learn on the job if his role changes in the NFL. He takes some time to build up speed and doesn't have the tight turns around the edge of a shorter, balanced rusher.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Markus Golden, Arizona Cardinals 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Rookie Impact—Round 2) 

7. Duke Riley, LSU

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0 ½"232 lbs4.58s32"6.89s

     

    POSITIVES

    A one-year starter at LSU, Duke Riley was named a team captain and earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. Riley was stuck behind studs like Deion Jones and Kwon Alexander and patiently waited his turn. He's a well-built athlete with excellent speed and short-area quickness. His ability to play in coverage or attacking the run makes Riley an ideal 4-3 weak-side linebacker. Riley has loose hips to run with tight ends or backs and takes great angles to the ball. His closing speed is exceptional for a zone coverage linebacker. Riley is a strong, consistent tackler and won't let ball-carriers through his grip. He's an upside player with a lot of raw, undeveloped tools, but he has the skill set to become a high-level starter if he continues to improve the way he did in his lone starting season.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Riley's size only makes him a fit for the 4-3 base defense, which could limit the number of teams that take a look at him. He also needs to work on stacking and shedding blockers. Riley doesn't play with great length and can struggle to get free once a lead blocker has his hands on him. Getting through traffic to find the ball is a weak point, too. Riley excels in space, but he isn't the most explosive linebacker in terms of change-of-direction skills. It can take him a while to get up to full speed in pursuit.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Shaq Thompson, Carolina Panthers 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.55/9.00 (Rookie Starter—Round 2)

6. Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'3 1/2"234 lbs4.67s34 3/8"7.03s

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Vanderbilt, Zach Cunningham has a long, lean and wiry build. His nose for the ball is a sixth sense, as he often gets to plays that few other players can. He excelled in a defense with little help around him, racking up 71 solo stops as a junior. Cunningham is a gap shooter who dips his shoulders to weave through traffic. He rarely gets beaten to the sideline, and he has all of the traits an NFL team could want in a nickel linebacker. A junior entry into the draft, Cunningham is a high upside player who is still filling out his frame. He has super long arms and plays with the balance and body control to attack on the fly. Cunningham's burst and closing speed are noticeable on film when he's tracking the ball. His football IQ and awareness show up consistently on film.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Cunningham is a sloppy tackler who tries to wrap high, which led to him missing 21 tackles in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. He struggled to set up tackles after the catch and allowed big plays on dump passes. His success will be reliant on having players around him to take on contact and free up space for him to work in. Cunningham must dedicate himself to gaining strength and power at the next level. He’s too strength-deficient to be an asset in the run game as a rookie.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.60/9.00 (Rookie Impact—Round 2)

5. Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'1 7/8"240 lbs4.61s33"7.15s

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at middle linebacker, Raekwon McMillan is a strong, solidly built leader with over 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons. The Ohio State defense asked McMillan to play the middle of the field and work both the run game through gaps and in pass coverage lining up out over tight ends or taking zone drops to the middle of the field. He's a consistently reliable starter with pro-ready experience and demeanor. McMillan touts good straight line speed and finds a direct route to the ball. He rarely allows a running back or scrambling quarterback beat him to the edge, and he breaks down and uses long arms to wrap and drive his targets into the dirt. His frame has room to add mass to play in the middle. McMillan is intelligent in zone coverage and has good peripheral vision to read what's in front of him, especially when spying on QBs. He doesn't allow players to create after the catch.

     

    NEGATIVES

    McMillan looked heavy-footed at times in 2016 and didn't show the foot speed to track and chase ball-carriers. He has to learn to be more patient and not overly aggressive when attacking his queues. Missteps force McMillan out of the play too often. He's hit-or-miss in coverage, and he must be more consistent with body control and balance. McMillan was not used as a blitzer or pass-rusher and hasn't developed tools there. He must become better in coverage with timing and awareness to fulfill his potential. 
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Preston Brown, Buffalo Bills 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.70/9.00 (Rookie Starter—Round 2)

4. Tyus Bowser, Houston

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'2 5/8"247 lbs4.65s33 1/4"6.75s

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Houston, Tyus Bowser is one of the more versatile linebackers in this draft class. Originally ranked as an edge-rusher after he played at outside linebacker and defensive end for the Cougars, Bowser was moved to the linebacker group after showing great coverage instincts. Bowser is a twitchy, athletic player with an NFL body and three-down skills. In the Houston defense, Bowser was asked to rush the quarterback and drop into coverage, and he did both at a high level. With his experience as a rusher, Bowser can put his hand in the dirt and beat tackles with burst in passing situations, but he can also stand up and cover or set the edge as a true linebacker. He looks the part with an excellent build and the athletic gifts to match up against NFL talent.

     

    NEGATIVES

    As a defensive end or outside linebacker, Bowser's lack of play power and length would be an issue. He would struggle to disengage from NFL blockers that can lock him out with length, as he instead must win with short-area quickness and agility. He's a one-trick speed-rusher for now, with a need to develop tools. As a stand-up linebacker, Bowser's instincts are still developing. He shouldn't be plugged into an NFL defense immediately as a weak-side linebacker. His flashes must become consistent production. Bowser also missed five games in 2016 after a fight with a teammate left him with a fractured orbital bone.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Albert McClellan, Baltimore Ravens 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.75/9.00 (Rookie Starter—Round 2) 

3. Jarrad Davis, Florida

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'1 3/8"238 lbs4.58s33 1/2"7.30s

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Florida, Jarrad Davis was one of the top linebackers in the nation in 2015. He would have been again in 2016 if not for a sprained ankle that shut him down in October. Davis plays with ideal toughness, aggressiveness and leadership on the field. If you want an alpha in the locker room and on the field, he's your guy. He's a scheme-versatile linebacker with the skill set to play weak-side or middle linebacker. Davis has excellent length (33 ½") and the body and athleticism that projects well to the NFL with a compact, thick build and fiery passion on the field. Davis has playing experience both as successful special teamer and starting linebacker. He was the clear-cut senior leader on a unit loaded with young talent and big personalities. An above-average athlete that can run vertically in coverage, Davis sees screens before they happen and has enough giddyup to beat blockers to the spot. He's a timing blitzer that comes downhill like an 18-wheeler on the highway. Davis can chase sideline to sideline and flourish as a 4-3 outside linebacker with his versatile skill set.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Davis' durability is a question mark, as he gets banged up often. He missed time in both 2014 and 2016 and could not participate in the NFL combine while still nursing an ankle injury stemming from his senior season. Davis' love of contact and aggression can get him in trouble at times. He too often gets swallowed up in traffic and locked up by blockers.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Jordan Hicks, Philadelphia Eagles 

    FINAL GRADE: 6.99/9.00 (Rookie Starter—Round 2)

2. Haason Reddick, Temple

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'1 ½"237 lbs4.5232 3/4"7.02s

     

    POSITIVES

    A former walk-on cornerback at Temple, Haason Reddick has climbed draft boards all spring with excellent showings at the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine. A two-year starter at defensive end, Reddick showed his versatility by performing as an off-ball linebacker in Mobile. He's an athlete with excellent movement skills in space. Reddick is able to play as a linebacker or pass-rusher and will bring unique three-down variety to the NFL. Reddick's production in 2016 was eye-opening, as he racked up 22.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He's an NFL-ready defender with the tools to drop into coverage or man up tight ends. He's also agile and tough enough to drop down to defensive end on third downs and can be an asset in nickel packages because of his talent moving in all directions. Reddick is a leader with excellent upside. He's gone from a Round 2-3 player to a top-20 pick.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Reddick's frame could take him off draft boards for teams that want more size at linebacker or defensive end. Without great arm length (32 ¾") or size, Reddick would be long-armed and shut down by NFL offensive tackles. You don't see a power rush from Reddick, and he needs room to run around the edge as a pass-rusher. Reddick's film isn't as great as his Senior Bowl and combine performances might suggest.
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings  

    FINAL GRADE: 7.10/9.00 (Top-15 Player Potential—Round 1)

1. Reuben Foster, Alabama

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    Measurables
    HeightWeight40 TimeArm Length3-Cone
    6'0"229 lbsINJ32 3/8"INJ

     

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Alabama—and before that a star on special teams—Reuben Foster is a heat-seeking missile hungry for the kill shot at all times. Foster gives incredible chase to the ball on every snap and amassed a remarkable 60 solo stops in his final season. He can run and cover, carrying an athletic, lean build. Foster has a nose for the ball, breaking up nine passes in the 2015 season and showing the range to play in pass coverage or spying the ball. Foster has no fear and will punish offensive linemen on the move. He shoots through the gap and makes the backfield his second home. Foster's explosive pursuit makes him an asset as a blitzer. He consistently excels at what is asked of himfrom key special teams asset as a freshman to starting linebacker his final season. Foster waited his turn at middle linebacker and emerged as an alpha in the locker room. His football IQ and instincts are off-the-charts good.

     

    NEGATIVES

    Foster throws his body around with reckless abandon and could take a beating at the next level against bigger targets. His aggression in lining up pass catchers leads to missed tackles and yards after the catch. Foster was kept clean in an Alabama front seven loaded with talent, which aided his production and highlight-reel plays. Him being kicked out of the NFL combine raises serious maturity questions. Foster had rotator cuff surgery in 2013, and his shoulders will be heavily scrutinized. Some teams will consider Foster undersized for a "Mike" position, and he could be kicked outside to "Will."
     

     

    PRO COMPARISON: NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers 

    FINAL GRADE: 7.75/9.00 (Pro Bowl Potential—Round 1)