HEIGHT: 6'2 5/8"
HAND: 9 3/4"
WINGSPAN: 6'3 1/2"
40-YARD DASH: 4.53
— Great strength. Takes on blocks effectively and brings down ball-carriers with control.
— Violent player. Wants to bring the hammer against blockers and ball-carriers alike.
— Plays with good length. Keeps OL out of his frame.
— Very good block deconstruction. Knows how to free himself at the second level.
— Smart and smooth coverage player, especially with his frame.
— Effective blitzer, particularly inside.
— Hair trigger gets him in trouble. Runs himself out of plays at times.
— Redirection can get clunky working downhill.
— Not sure he can run in coverage with running backs and quicker tight ends.
11 G, 115 TOT, 18.5 TFL, 8.0 SK, 2 FF
— 3-star recruit in 2019.
— Two-year starter.
Leo Chenal is a heavy linebacker trying to make it in a light linebacker's league.
At 6'2" and 250 pounds, Chenal is comfortably the thickest linebacker in the 2022 draft class. He plays to that size, too. Chenal sports high-end play strength, most notably when taking on blocks. Not only does he have enough anchor to hold his ground, but he has the upper-body strength and violent demeanor to consistently knock blockers back or pry them open. Chenal also plays with good length, proactive hands and a springy base in these scenarios, giving him every tool necessary to dismantle blocks however he pleases.
With that being said, Chenal "playing to his size" also works to his detriment in some ways. He is not a slug out there, but he does not have legit sideline-to-sideline speed, so he'll need a system that protects him from that as much as possible. Likewise, Chenal's change of direction in space can get clunky at times. He also plays with a bit of a hair trigger against the run. He is not wrong an alarming amount, but he is prone to taking himself out of plays from time to time and does not have the athleticism to recover consistently.
Chenal does have more passing-down value than his frame suggests, though. He may not have the fluidity and speed to keep up in man-to-man consistently, especially with running backs underneath, but Chenal is a sharp zone defender. He gets proper depth in all of his drops and knows how and when to slide across the field to keep throwing windows closed. Chenal is also a powerful blitzer, which Wisconsin took advantage of. Given his frame and block deconstruction, Chenal may even be able to flex down to the edge in specific packages in the NFL, similar to what Dont'a Hightower has done at times.
Chenal would fit best as an inside linebacker in an odd-front defense or as a "Sam" in an even-front defense. Middling movement skills may put a cap on his ceiling, but his unique build, block deconstruction and functional zone-coverage skills should be enough to form a capable starting NFL linebacker.
GRADE: 7.5 (Potential Impact Player - 2nd Round)
OVERALL RANK: 56
POSITION RANK: LB6
PRO COMPARISON: Discount Dont'a Hightower
Written by B/R NFL Scout Derrik Klassen