NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Linebackers for 2016

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 19, 2016

NFL Draft 400: Ranking the Top Linebackers for 2016

0 of 41

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The 2016 NFL draft class doesn't feature two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks at the top like last season's did with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be excited. With this draft set to be dominated by defensive linemen and small-school studs, not many people know as many names as they did last offseason.

    The goal of the NFL Draft 400 series is to change that.

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

    Players were graded on positives and negatives, with a pro-player comparison added to match the player's style or fit in the NFL. 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.

Matt Miller NFL Draft Grading Scale

1 of 41

    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    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. 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 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
    5.50-5.59Round 6—Backup Caliber
    5.40-5.49Round 7—Backup Caliber
    5.00-5.39Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.99Camp Player

40. Cory James, Colorado State

2 of 41

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"229 lbs4.59s7.0s4.59s 

    POSITIVES

    A four-year starter, Cory James has experience and versatility on his resume, having played as an edge-rusher and off-ball linebacker.

    James is able to catch up and play in pursuit, and he has the closing speed to make plays on the backside. He’s explosive off the snap and shows a speed rush to whip the corner. A solid tackler in space, James has the length to hold off blockers while reading the play.

    In coverage, James has the speed to run with receivers and tight ends. He has a nonstop effort and plays with a reckless and unreserved style.

    NEGATIVES

    A ‘tweener in terms of body type, James doesn’t have the ideal size for a linebacker role. An inconsistent playmaker, James can be up and down within the same game. He has to learn to pace his highs to avoid his lows.

    When blockers get ahold of James, they’re stuck to him like glue, as he lacks the power or hand play to get free. When asked to play in a zone and read the ball, James is slow to diagnose and shows much better when reacting instead of reading.

    As a contain linebacker, James often loses the edge to strong linemen and will open up big gaps off-tackle and off-guard for backs to crash. He’s not a step-up-and-fill ‘backer. With limited experience in pass coverage and average size, James projects as a late-rounder or undrafted free agent.

    PRO COMPARISON: David Mayo, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

39. Ian Seau, Nevada

3 of 41

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"250 lbs4.68s7.63s4.68s 

    POSITIVES

    The nephew of Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau, Ian was named first-team All-Mountain West in 2015 and has impressed in workouts and at his pro day.

    A high-motor player, Seau has great awareness on quarterback contact and routinely forces turnovers. He’s fast, and his measurables translate to on-field play at every level. Seau may be a little short, but he has a well-built frame with room to add some bulk.

    In the open field, Seau shows good start-stop ability and has quick change-of-direction skills. He’s a creative pass-rusher and is fast off the line. He’ll cross up blockers, and when unleashed on the edge, he can bend, spin and rip.

    The younger Seau has a tough battle to live up to his uncle’s name, but his work ethic and character are doing No. 55 proud.

    NEGATIVES

    A college defensive end, Seau will transition to a linebacker role to make it in the NFL. His level of competition at Nevada wasn’t great, and he has little film against pro-caliber offensive linemen. Seau made a mess of the Mountain West, but he hasn’t faced elite competition.

    A one-trick player, Seau must add strength to withstand blockers and win battles in the middle of the field. He was able to simply run around blockers to the ball in college and must learn to run through blockers to the ball when the angle dictates it.

    In pass coverage, Seau has no experience and will be working from the ground up. He’s a promising athlete but has uninspiring fluidity and change-of-direction skills. Learning to read offensive line keys and flow to the ball will be new to him.

    PRO COMPARISON: Cam Johnson, Cleveland Browns

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

38. James Burgess, Louisville

4 of 41

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"254 lbs4.72s7.06s4.55s 

    POSITIVES

    The nephew of former NFL first-rounder Willie Middlebrooks, James Burgess might not have eye-popping measurables, but his play can’t be ignored.

    A three-year starter, Burgess has experience and production. He shows on film as a smooth and fluid athlete with easy change of direction and play in space. Burgess is fantastic in coverage and has the speed to cover deep drops. His speed in the open field matches what he shows in coverage, and Burgess can bend the edge with good quickness.

    Burgess has a nose for the ball and has shown himself to be excellent as an open-field tackler. He takes clean, quick angles to the ball whether it’s in the air or on the ground. Burgess has the athleticism to contribute on special teams while he acclimates to the NFL.

    NEGATIVES

    Built like a strong safety, Burgess lacks the size to play between the tackles and doesn’t have the speed or change-of-direction skills to play safety. He’s caught somewhere in between and will perhaps be seen in a nickel linebacker role.

    Burgess must add strength to make plays at the next level. He too often gets pushed around on underneath plays and can be controlled by fullbacks and tight ends at the point of attack. When Burgess misreads the play, he can’t fight back to the ball due to a lack of power. Burgess will fall back on contact and struggles to get upfield push.

    With average awareness, Burgess relies on speed and being able to slip through blocks to make plays. With his limited size and frame, that won’t work for him against NFL defenders. Because of his, his projection is difficult given his limited hip flexibility when compared to safeties.

    PRO COMPARISON: Quayshawn Nealy, Arizona Cardinals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

37. Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn

5 of 41

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"248 lbs4.83s7.50s4.37s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter, Cassanova McKinzy has ideal size and strength for an inside linebacker prospect. With a pro-ready build, McKinzy impresses with a thick trunk and the athletic tools to play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense in the middle.

    McKinzy has the field awareness of a "Mike" linebacker. He’s able to read keys and find the ball without delay and puts himself in a position to make plays. A heavy hitter, McKinzy plays through his pads and looks to rock ball-carriers when he gets in tackling range.

    A multiposition player with experience at both weak-side and middle linebacker, McKinzy also flashes decent moves as a pass-rusher coming off the edge. He loops well and has both powerful hands and quick feet to turn the corner.

    There are stretches of games where McKinzy looks like a top-five linebacker, and teams may buy into that value earlier than his traits may warrant.

    NEGATIVES

    McKinzy doesn’t have great closing speed, and when he misreads plays, he’s not athletic enough to recover. While he has enough short-area quickness, McKinzy lacks long speed and is limited in coverage because of it.

    Despite having good strength, McKinzy doesn’t always use it. He tends to play small and without the strength in his legs to rock back blockers when they meet in the lane. This causes McKinzy to not only miss out on plays, but he’s missing tackles when he should be wrapping them up for an easy stop. McKinzy gets tunnel vision and misses outside cuts.

    As a three-down linebacker, McKinzy leaves big cushions and relies on lunges and handsy coverage to make plays.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jasper Brinkley, New York Giants

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

36. Reggie Northrup, FSU

6 of 41

    Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"237 lbs4.95s7.26s4.49s 

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter running the show at middle linebacker, Reggie Northrup was a two-time All-ACC third-team member.

    A sure tackler on initial contact, Northrup plays with better power than expected from his frame. He’s balanced and uses his hands to shed blocks and avoid cuts or angle blocks coming in from the side. Overall, his awareness is a major positive. An impressive lateral athlete, Northrup flows with timing from sideline to sideline.

    Reliable in short-range coverage, he can make plays on the ball in front of him. He has the quickness to run and chase, especially in short-yardage situations. He’s able to change direction quickly and in stride and will cut back to chase agile backs.

    NEGATIVES

    An ACL injury suffered against Oregon in the Rose Bowl (January 2015) didn’t keep Northrup off the field in his senior year but must be checked thoroughly. Northrup did not look back to full speed in 2015, and his testing times would point to diminished skills.

    An undersized linebacker, Northrup has the build of a safety but the speed of a slow linebacker. He’s not flashy or explosive, and he plays loose and lazy when tracking the ball. Northrup’s play speed does not match his agility and prevents him from making tackles in pursuit.

    As a coverage linebacker, Northrup gets beaten deep in coverage and does not run well in phase. He doesn’t have the read-and-react skills to make plays on the ball. The spectre of playing linebacker at Florida State will draw eyes to Northrup’s tape, but his limited athletic traits are tough to overlook.

    PRO COMPARISON: John Timu, Chicago Bears

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

35. C.J. Johnson, Ole Miss

7 of 41

    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"234 lbs4.81sN/A4.52s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at defensive end, C.J. Johnson made the move to inside linebacker at Ole Miss and looks to stay there in the NFL. Given his frame and athleticism, Johnson is a better fit at linebacker than end.

    Johnson has natural pass-rushing moves from his three years at defensive end and can be valuable as a blitzer through A-gaps and on delays off the edge. Johnson is also experienced breaking off blockers and doesn’t get hung up in traffic. He’s quick to turn and run, and he sticks close to the line when squeezing off the edge.

    Johnson is patient and poised in the middle of the field and shows natural athleticism when taking angles to the ball. He has power in his closing speed and will land big hits on runners. Johnson improved throughout the season when asked to read and react. He’s still at his best when sliding laterally and looking for rushing lanes instead of reading the blockers in front of him.

    A project with big upside, Johnson’s versatility could be a deciding factor in whether he’s drafted.

    NEGATIVES

    A project at the position, Johnson must work to improve his strength, hand usage and instincts to read and track the ball.

    Injuries have been an issue for Johnson (leg, ankle, knee). These have left him with limited first-step quickness and no explosion in his jump. He’s tight-hipped when turning the corner or changing direction in space. Johnson struggled in his first season back at middle linebacker since high school.

    Playing in coverage is a weakness for the former pass-rusher. He’s indecisive in coverage and often plays from behind. Johnson must learn to carry his backpedal farther into the play and trust his athleticism. He currently has no ability to read routes and anticipate the ball.

    PRO COMPARISON: Martrell Spaight, Washington

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

34. Raphael Kirby, Miami (Fla.)

8 of 41

    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"236 lbsINJINJINJ 

    POSITIVES

    A team captain and two-year starter, Raphael Kirby was on the path to a fantastic season when he tore his ACL against Virginia Tech. A team-first playmaker, Kirby will still get a long look from NFL teams.

    Playing middle linebacker, Kirby is poised and under control at all times. He’s patient and doesn’t panic or get overly anxious. He is a sure tackler after contact and rarely lets a runner out of his range when he’s closing on the ball. He shows game speed and flashes excellent range and pursuit on backside runs.

    Reliable as a coverage linebacker, Kirby is experienced in zone coverage as a box defender and when working to the flats. His instincts and awareness were continuing to improve before his injury, which leaves the arrow pointing up on his potential.

    An experienced special teams player during his first two seasons at Miami, Kirby will be able to work his way onto the field once healthy.

    NEGATIVES

    An ACL tear suffered in midseason kept Kirby from working out for NFL teams this offseason. It’s expected he will miss at least half the 2016 season.

    An undersized and underutilized linebacker, Kirby doesn’t have ideal bulk or length. With a lack of explosion in his first steps and tight hips, Kirby is not the twitched-up, chasing linebacker the NFL is trending toward. With clunky stop-and-start quickness, his change-of-direction skills fall below the line.

    Given his inexperience at linebacker, Kirby’s lack of awareness is to be expected. Where he fails to impress is in his general playmaking skills. In a defense that funnels action to the middle of the field, Kirby didn’t make enough plays.

    PRO COMPARISON: Lamin Barrow, Chicago Bears

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

33. Devante Bond, Oklahoma

9 of 41

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"235 lbs4.70s7.07s4.36s 

    POSITIVES

    A transfer to Oklahoma from Sierra Community College, Devante Bond sat out the 2013 season after being short on credits to transfer to the University of Miami.

    Bond has ideal measurables for the linebacker position and untapped athleticism waiting to be used. He possesses natural athletic ability in his pass-rush sets and has the tools to beat college blockers to the ball.

    While attacking the run, Bond is a fast and fluid athlete, with the speed to run by offensive linemen at the first and second level. Bond also uses active hands to disengage from blocks when tied up. He’s reliable in coverage opportunities and has the quickness and agility to make plays on third down. A high-motor, effort player, Bond goes full speed the entire game.

    NEGATIVES

    An ankle injury cost Bond four games in his senior season, so he heads to the NFL draft with limited starting experience (and limited field experience in general after starting only three games in 2014).

    Bond’s inexperience shows up in big ways on inside rushing downs. He has a tendency to get gashed by interior runs and doesn’t have the strength to fit inside against guards and centers working to isolate linebackers on blocks. An outside linebacker at Oklahoma, Bond doesn’t have the bulk to meet blockers in the hole or the quickness to slip them underneath.

    Playing most often as a pass-rusher at OU, Bond will have to transition to a stand-up role on first and second downs. With average long speed and poor instincts, that move will take time. He does have the tools to bump down to a pass-rusher role on third down but may need to add strength and size first.

    PRO COMPARISON: Chris Carter, Baltimore Ravens

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

32. Steve Longa, Rutgers

10 of 41

    Elsa/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"241 lbs4.78s7.50s4.56s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at Rutgers, Steve Longa decided to enter the NFL draft after Rutgers fired head coach Kyle Flood. A tough, productive player with downhill speed, Longa has the tools to play inside a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

    The tape in Indianapolis wasn’t kind to Longa, but on film he’s more athletic than the combine testing showed. He’s quick, and whether it’s against the run or pass, Longa can make up ground in a hurry. In pass sets he’s able to take deep drops and get into his zone without delay. He’s a quick-feet player and uses choppy, short steps to attack the ball.

    Longa has been asked to do everything at Rutgers and has experience stuffing inside runs, chasing on sweeps, attacking the passer and dropping into coverage. He has the skill set to help on special teams too.

    Overall, Longa is a smooth, active player who lacks the ideal measurables teams like but has the goods to be picked up late in the draft.

    NEGATIVES

    Looking at frame and length, Longa is below-average to average and will get knocked in draft rooms for his size. Production will also be valued, and when teams put his card on the wall, they’ll want more of an impact from a middle linebacker in a scheme that flows through the position. Longa was an active mover; he just didn’t make many plays.

    Following the ball, Longa was more reactionary than anticipatory. He got caught peeking into the backfield and letting his feet stop far too often. This showed up both against the run and the pass and often left him trailing the play.

    In coverage, Longa lacks a second gear and seems to let his feet get out of control. That leaves him a step or two behind college backs and tight ends, and he will be a yard or two behind in the NFL. Because Longa is an over-committer in the run game, he’s often left watching instead of acting.

    PRO COMPARISON: Akeem Dent, Houston Texans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

31. Antwione Williams, Georgia Southern

11 of 41

    Michael Chang/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2 ¾"240 lbs4.80s7.03s4.80s 

    POSITIVES

    A small-school stud, Antwione Williams has NFL size and production, and he is generating big interest with his resume complete at Georgia Southern. The team leader in tackles in 2015, Williams was credited with 97 tackles and four forced fumbles.

    Williams has the size and build of an NFL linebacker, and from a physical perspective he’s ready to go right out of the gate. A fast, sideline-to-sideline linebacker on tape, Williams can get into the backfield on delayed blitzes and flush the pocket.

    As a tackler, Williams dominated the competition. He’s a strong wrap-up player, but he also makes smart reads and finds himself near the ball consistently. His eyes are taking him to the play; he’s not just winning with speed. He’s explosive against the run and has the power to anchor against blockers.

    Williams is a leader, and that shows with his passionate, vocal play on the field. If he produced at Alabama the way he did at Georgia Southern, we’d be talking about a first-rounder.

    NEGATIVES

    Level of competition will be the first thing NFL teams discuss with Williams. He may have dominated lower levels of play, but he’s untested against pro-caliber size and speed. An arm injury in 2013 will also get checked.

    Williams didn’t test as well as expected, and a recheck of the tape shows a tight-hipped linebacker with stiffness when changing direction. He doesn’t let his hips fly open when running laterally and lacks explosion there.

    When latched onto a blocker, Williams gets stuck if his burst doesn’t free him. He must learn to use his hands to disengage and work to always keep an arm free instead of catching the blocker with two hands. He disappeared at times when playing up against better blockers and didn’t wow with discovery and decision-making against those FBS teams he faced.

    Williams’ inconsistent reading of the ball at Georgia Southern will be a big debate topic from NFL teams. If he can’t handle that level, how will he do against pro offenses?

    PRO COMPARISON: Zach Vigil, Miami Dolphins

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

30. Elandon Roberts, Houston

12 of 41

    Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"235 lbs4.6s7.23s4.26s 

    POSITIVES

    The FBS leader in solo tackles during the 2015 season with 88, Elandon Roberts matches production and athleticism at the inside linebacker position.

    Moving across the field and attacking the ball, Roberts shines as an easy, fluid mover. He has quick closing ability and can fly to the ball on the edge of the defense. An inside/outside linebacker, Roberts has impressive range.

    In pass situations, Roberts gets a deep vertical drop with ease and has the feet and hips to survive in coverage against NFL offenses. He’s quick to recognize the play and lets his eyes take him to the ball. Roberts is a bouncy, balanced player in space and in the box.

    Taking on the run, Roberts gets good scrape and meets the ball at the point of attack. His 88 solo tackles are proof of his playmaking ability, and he’s quick enough to flash and make plays in the backfield. A vocal leader who truly loves the game, Roberts will help on special teams early on.

    NEGATIVES

    On the hoof, Roberts doesn’t meet the standards for height, weight and length at the position. The NFL is getting smaller and faster, but Roberts is a little below that line.

    While Roberts shows good quickness and short-area burst, his long speed is questionable. He’s not a burner on the field and won’t outrun backs to the hole or cut them off at the pass without a great angle. He’s not fast enough to recover from mistakes in reads and keys. Poor angles across the field and average awareness to see and feel cut blocks leaves Roberts out of more plays than you’d like on the edge.

    In college, Roberts could make up for poor instincts with a great motor and athleticism, but in the NFL he cannot afford to be late with his eyes. Roberts has value as a do-it-all linebacker, but his lack of size and pro-ready awareness will push him down the board.

    PRO COMPARISON: Demario Davis, Cleveland Browns

    FINAL GRADE: 5.40/9.00 (Round 7—Backup Caliber)

29. Gionni Paul, Utah

13 of 41

    Mike Carlson/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'10"231 lbs4.95s7.56s4.49s 

    POSITIVES

    A former Miami Hurricane, Gionni Paul transferred to Utah, earned two degrees and impressed all over the field during East-West Shrine practices. Now he’s a legitimate NFL prospect.

    Paul is a vocal worker and a leader by example. He’s willing to get dirty at the line of scrimmage and find contact with ball-carriers in congestion. He doesn’t let his lack of size scare him and is routinely poking his head into the backfield. Paul is an aware, instinctive player who directs the Utah defense pre- and post-snap.

    In coverage, Paul has the movement skills to excel in zone situations. He’s solid in the box and working the flats and has enough hip turn and speed to carry tight ends or slot receivers up the seam. He’s an efficient mover with no wasted space and is patient in his pass reads.

    If a team can get past Paul’s lack of size, they’ll get a fine football player. He’s made for third downs in the NFL and can also contribute on special teams.

    NEGATIVES

    Small. That’s the only way to describe the 5’10”, 231-pound Paul. His lack of length (31-inch arms) is also a concern when projecting his ability to stack up blockers in the run game. It’s been mentioned to us by scouts that he “couldn’t handle Miami” and had to transfer to Utah.

    Watching Paul flow in the run game, he has a clunky start and stop and can let his feet get stuck in the mud in the middle of the field. Paul’s overall change-of-direction skills are average. Slow foot speed limits his overall ability to make plays outside the hashes. Paul has the awareness to spy quarterbacks, but not the speed to chase them outside the tackle box.

    Teams concerned about Paul’s size will find issue with his transfer to a smaller program and his limited athleticism. A “gamer” who shows up better on film than he does in testing, Paul will ultimately be knocked on draft day due to size and speed concerns.

    PRO COMPARISON: Mike Hull, Miami Dolphins

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

28. Darien Harris, Michigan State

14 of 41

    Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11 "224 lbs4.79s7.25s4.62s 

    POSITIVES

    A super-productive linebacker, Darien Harris made 90 tackles and added nine tackles for loss to go along with three pass deflections.

    An aggressive weak-side linebacker, Harris plays with pop in his pads and seeks contact. He’s a constantly moving, physical, tough player and shows up at the point of attack with power in his trunk. Harris has the balance to weed through traffic and find the ball and excels at coming through congestion to make plays.

    An easy mover in coverage, Harris shows the technical understanding to run with tight ends. He’s smart to understand his assignments on all three downs and knows when to break off and attack the ball. When coming downhill, Harris builds speed in a hurry and is a force on the go.

    Harris saved his best for last, owning the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten championship game. Per the official box score, he had 17 tackles and 3.5 TFLs.

    NEGATIVES

    Harris is an undersized outside linebacker who was able to fight through Big Ten blocks and win with speed but doesn’t have the play power to shed blockers at the next level. Harris’ best asset is his tackling ability, but that lack of size makes it a questionable trait translating to the NFL.

    Harris is a clean-up tackler and is rarely the first man on the scene when tracking the run. His pursuit can be praised, but his instincts prevent him from being a dynamic playmaker. Harris tends to follow the pack to the ball instead of leading it. When he gets to the ball, Harris isn’t a wrap-up tackler and will instead try to run through the play.

    Stiffness in space shows up when Harris is asked to really open up and run to the edges of the field. This limits his natural ability in coverage, as he doesn’t have the hip turn to break his backpedal and fly with upfield routes.

    PRO COMPARISON: Zach Brown, Buffalo Bills

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

27. Eric Striker, Oklahoma

15 of 41

    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    5'11"227 lbs4.80s7.30s4.46s 

    POSITIVES

    A leader and a playmaker on the Oklahoma defense, Eric Striker is making Big 12 fans happy by heading to the NFL, as he won’t be on the other side of the field anymore.

    A three-year starter for the Sooners, Striker did everything from rushing the quarterback to dropping in coverage, and he was successful no matter what the coaches needed him to do. A rangy, toolsy player, Striker has the loose, bendy change of direction to run in coverage or go chase the quarterback.

    A creative defensive coordinator will find ways to use Striker. He brings the athleticism and experience to line up all over the back seven of the defense. His speed, pursuit and range are all top-tier, and he brings great effort to match the athleticism. When blocked by a tight end or fullback, Striker brings a mean streak and will lock horns then toss the blocker aside.

    Durable and experienced, Striker played in 52 games at Oklahoma. While he may be small, he’s not an injury risk and does bring an exciting amount of versatility to the field.

    NEGATIVES

    Striker’s lack of bulk and length may be too much for some teams to overlook. It will take a creative coach to talk him up in the draft room to get scouts to overlook his measurables. He has the build of a strong safety but the hips of a rangy linebacker. Somewhere in between is where he’ll likely play.

    Striker lacks the strength to set and contain the edge. He was easily moved by pulling guards and often chipped with a shoulder to be bounced from the play. If blockers get their hands on him, it’s game over. Used primarily as an edge-rusher and blitzer at Oklahoma, Striker has a skill set that doesn’t match his frame.

    He will be a project who may see the field early on third downs, but he’ll be tasked with learning how to work his hips and feet in coverage—something he’s not done on game days at Oklahoma. A move to the back end of the defense is the only way to compensate for his lack of size and power. With 4.80 speed on the track at the combine, Striker's lack of long speed could eliminate any thoughts of a safety role in the NFL. 

    PRO COMPARISON: Ray-Ray Armstrong, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.50/9.00 (Round 6—Backup Caliber)

26. Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech

16 of 41

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"235 lbs4.74s7.65s4.63s 

    POSITIVES

    A part-time pass-rusher and part-time linebacker in the Virginia Tech defense, Dadi Nicolas has the length (34 ¾” arms) and playmaking skills to convince scouts he can overcome his lean, lanky frame. With impressive first-step quickness and loose hips, Nicolas can impress on the hoof if you imagine him adding 10 pounds.

    His long arms and active hands allow him to keep blockers at distance. He eats up a lineman’s cushion with his own length and first-step speed. He’s experienced using his hands to fight off blockers after years at defensive end and sheds well when working against the run. Nicolas is patient and works down the line well to find the ball.

    Likely a weak-side linebacker in the NFL, Nicolas will excite teams as a blank canvas to work with. He has pass-rushing experience, a long, lean frame and enough burst in his first steps to be utilized all over the field.

    NEGATIVES

    Nicolas is billed as this wonderful athlete, but his testing numbers were poor. He timed below the line in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. His vertical jump was good (41"), but Nicolas’ resume doesn’t show an athlete.

    Nicolas played a role at Virginia Tech (edge-rusher) that he’ll never play in the NFL. To play that role, he lacks the strength and power to hold up against blocks from offensive linemen and will instead need to play in space where he’s seeing more tight ends and fullbacks. Nicolas has little experience in the role NFL teams will ask him to play.

    Weak legs allowed opponents to move Nicolas around at will during Senior Bowl week, and he spent more time on the ground than any other linebacker on his squad. Poor balance and body control won’t help him hide his lack of bulk and overall agility.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jayson DiManche, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

25. B.J. Goodson, Clemson

17 of 41

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"242 lbs4.69s7.05s4.51s 

    POSITIVES

    Stepping into the role vacated when Stephone Anthony left for the NFL, B.J. Goodson became a leader on the Clemson defense playing outside linebacker. A three-down impact, Goodson made plays in the running game, in pass coverage (two interceptions) and when getting after the quarterback (5.5 sacks).

    A team captain in 2015, Goodson showed immediate ability in his first season as a full-time starter. He’s a smooth line-scraper with enough power to shed blockers and make impact tackles between the hashes. Goodson does a great job freeing himself of blocks at the point of attack.

    Playing in coverage, Goodson showed the hands to flip the field and an easy, controlled movement through space in zone coverage and enough speed to run with players in man. He’s a smart player who reads the field efficiently and maximizes his movement with his eyes.

    A bulky, thick player, Goodson will bring the wood when attacking ball-carriers. He’s strong enough to contain on the edge in the run game and makes enough tackles in the backfield to show off his burst and instincts.

    NEGATIVES

    Just a one-year starter, Goodson played on a loaded defense and had plays funneled to him more often than not. A lack of experience will be a question.

    Athletically, Goodson has average speed. He can’t recover to the ball if contain is broken and is a poor pursuit player. He’s not a natural pass-rusher, and coaches would ask him to play inside in a 3-4 scheme. His stocky build limits his range and prevents Goodson from being a quick-twitch explosive athlete. His balance when sliding laterally is poor to very poor at times.

    Goodson has production in coverage and when rushing the passer but doesn’t have the traits to match it consistently. When playing the quarterback, he was allowed to clean up flushed pockets and didn’t break free from blocks on his own to attack the passer.

    PRO COMPARISON: A.J. Hawk, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

24. Tyler Matakevich, Temple

18 of 41

    Chris Szagola/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"238 lbs4.81s7.19s4.34s 

    POSITIVES

    Tyler Matakevich was a four-year starter at Temple and the lifeblood of the program during that time. The 2015 Bronko Nagurski Award winner and a three-time first-team All-AAC performer, Matakevich is among the most decorated guys in the draft class.

    Matakevich is a powerful downhill player, showing excellent tackle production and the ability to disrupt the pocket. His recognition and awareness make for excellent reads overall and allow him to be in on plays he shouldn’t be athletically. With momentum behind him, Matakevich can be tough to stop at the point of attack.

    A solid in-the-box coverage linebacker, Matakevich projects to the middle of the field if kept in on passing downs. He wins with timing in coverage and when attacking the backfield as a delayed rusher. He has the instincts to shoot through A- and B-gaps to make plays on the passer.

    NEGATIVES

    Matakevich had impressive production at Temple but lacks the three things NFL scouts want in a linebacker—strength, speed and size. With an undersized, filled-out frame, Matakevich doesn’t have much room to grow athletically.

    A slow mover through space, Matakevich has little impact on runs outside the tackle box. His clunky, heavy feet limit his change-of-direction skills. When asked to run in coverage, he is a liability to keep pace with players up the seam and on breaking routes. An overall lack of quickness and burst is an issue.

    An arm-tackler in pursuit, Matakevich misses too many plays by not squaring up to the ball. He loses rushing lanes when approached by lead blockers and can’t re-anchor with poor play power. If he overruns the ball, he’s out of the play because of poor agility and speed.

    PRO COMPARISON: Amarlo Herrera, Indianapolis Colts

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

23. Josh Forrest, Kentucky

19 of 41

    Mary Ann Chastain/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"249 lbs4.78s7.48s4.22s 

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter, Josh Forrest led Kentucky in tackles in each of the last two seasons. A tall, long athlete, Forrest has positional versatility at linebacker because of his role with the Wildcats.

    Athletic on the tape, Forrest moves well enough to be a pass-rusher off the edge or through inside gaps. He has the length (33 ½” arms) to keep blockers off his frame and locks out fullbacks and tight ends to stack-and-shed.

    When chasing the ball, Forrest has the quickness to run down outside plays and will show catch-up speed to recover if he’s late to his read. Forrest’s ability to move laterally makes him a possible 4-3 outside linebacker or an inside linebacker in all schemes.

    The Kentucky defense unleashed Forrest as a playmaker, and he answered with sacks, hurries, interceptions and tackles. If teams buy into his potential, he could hear one call his name early on Day 3.

    NEGATIVES

    Forrest looks the part on tape but tested out average at the combine. General managers making a call on his stock must weigh the differences.

    Already at nearly 250 pounds, Forrest has a top-heavy build without great lower-body strength. He could benefit from more balanced power that allows him to hold ground at the point of attack. When asked to contain the edge, Forrest too often surrendered ground with poor strength.

    An upright player, Forrest makes himself a huge target for blockers and has to play with improved pad height and knee bend. Ideally a weak-side linebacker, Forrest’s timed speed and agility will raise eyebrows. With average instincts and too many false steps on tape, he’s a work in progress.

    PRO COMPARISON: Curtis Grant, Tennessee Titans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

22. Travis Feeney, Washington

20 of 41

    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"230 lbs4.50s7.20s4.42s 

    POSITIVES

    A former safety prospect, Travis Feeney has converted himself to the size of a linebacker but maintained his athleticism at 6’4” and 230 pounds. Feeney wowed scouts in his senior season and at the East-West Shrine Game.

    Playing as a pass-rusher, Feeney uses active, fast hands to disengage from blockers and will slip by offensive tackles on the edge. An experienced rusher, Feeney uses a slip-and-dip move to get free. He’s as capable when setting the edge against the run, showing solid seal and contain ability with his length.

    When he's asked to drop into coverage, Feeney's background as a safety shines. He has a smooth, controlled backpedal and flips his hips with a loose, free movement. His length is a big help in coverage too.

    Feeney is an unfinished project—like a house that needs repainting and the floors stained but has good bones. The right organization will see his athletic potential and be willing to overlook other areas of his game. Where Feeney does impress is in how he attacks the field.

    NEGATIVES

    Feeney has battled shoulder injuries (labrum), which teams will question given the pounding his position takes on the pads. A fast tester at the combine, Feeney flashed as more quick than fast on film with a long stride.

    Feeney’s instincts at linebacker are still in development. He often gets distracted by blockers and doesn’t have the strength to recover. His long legs make his change of direction labored and slow when he’s asked to adjust from straight-line to lateral speed.

    An undisciplined player on the field, Washington allowed Feeney to freelance. He takes some awkward angles to the ball and can play out of position more than you’d like, but he was able to recover in college thanks to his athleticism.

    PRO COMPARISON: Kiko Alonso, Miami Dolphins

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

21. Jared Norris, Utah

21 of 41

    Steve Dykes/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"241 lbs4.73s7.07s4.52s 

    POSITIVES

    A three-year starter at Utah, Jared Norris is a productive team leader with the traits to translate to an inside linebacker role in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme.

    Norris has the play strength to step on the field immediately and hold his own in the NFL. He won’t be overmatched by offensive linemen and can spill blockers to make a play in the backfield. Norris plays with balance and poise in pursuit and anticipates the flow of the play well.

    A hard-hitter coming downhill, Norris will jack a blocker or ball-carrier if he gets a line on him. He has the closing speed to beat up backs and shows himself to be solid giving chase. Laterally quick, Norris can make plays outside the hashes.

    A reliable, mean player in the middle of the field, Norris also has value as a short-area cover man.

    NEGATIVES

    A limited athlete who lacks twitchy ability in space and when changing directions, Norris is a one-lane player who often misses the ball outside the hashes. With poor chase speed, Norris has to play the ball in front of him.

    An overaggressive player, Norris gets too amped up and will attack rushing lanes with his head down and his eyes in the dirt. Learning to play poised and under control with intensity is the key for this hard-charging linebacker.

    As a tackler, Norris can let too many backs out of his grasp and whiffs on other hits when going for the highlight-reel play. He has to become a better wrap-up tackler against NFL agility and power. Norris is tight through his hips and will struggle to break down and connect with shifty ball-carriers.

    PRO COMPARISON: Vincent Rey, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

20. Blake Martinez, Stanford

22 of 41

    Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"237 lbs4.71s6.98s4.20s 

    POSITIVES

    A two-year starter at Stanford, Blake Martinez looks the part as an athletic, strong linebacker. He’s able to play both inside and outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme and is comfortable playing one of the inside spots in a 3-4 defense.

    A tough, mean linebacker prospect, Martinez balances his aggression with awareness and vision. He’s rarely fooled by misdirection and has active, confident eyes. Martinez plays disciplined ball without mental errors.

    A strong player when asked to anchor or step up to stack and shed blockers, Martinez is able to keep his distance from pulling offensive linemen or skill-position players at the point of attack. He’s quick enough to stop and start and run to chase the ball outside his box.

    Martinez comes to the NFL with experience in drop coverage, having been asked to play in the box and out in the flats.

    NEGATIVES

    What you see is what you get with Martinez. An average player in terms of straight-line speed, Martinez can be beat to the corner and must win with pursuit angles down the sideline.

    An average tackler when asked to break down and thud a ball-carrier, Martinez is susceptible to stiff arms and spin moves, as well as an old-fashioned helmet in his chest. With a frame that’s seemingly maxed out, Martinez doesn’t bring much upside to the table.

    A lack of explosiveness limits Martinez as a playmaker. He can’t hang deep in coverage and is limited to a zone-coverage linebacker only because of his poor long speed. Martinez most likely projects as a two-down player in the NFL, as he doesn’t offer much as a pass-rusher or cover man.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jonathan Freeny, New England Patriots

    FINAL GRADE: 5.60/9.00 (Round 5—Backup Caliber)

19. Joe Schobert, Wisconsin

23 of 41

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"244 lbs4.76s7.11s4.30s 

    POSITIVES

    A former walk-on at Wisconsin, Joe Schobert was a utility player for the Badgers defense, playing both as a pass-rusher and as a true off-the-ball linebacker.

    Schobert impresses with first-step quickness, and against elite competition like Iowa and Alabama, he was able to make plays on the edge and in space. A versatile player, Schobert flashes a unique skill set and on-par overall athletic ability. What Schobert lacks in length and long speed, he makes up for with quick, smooth start-and-stop speed.

    As a pass-rusher, Schobert had production. He’s slippery at the corner and does a great job getting under the hands of blockers to dip and drive on the pocket.

    When asked to drop into coverage, Schobert isn’t a burner, but he has enough quickness to hang with slot receivers and tight ends. Schobert flashed as reliable in coverage and had success eliminating targets. He’s patient and aware when playing the ball in front of him and wins with instincts and a football IQ that gets him in place to make a play.

    NEGATIVES

    Missed tackles are the first thing that must be discussed in NFL draft rooms. Schobert was credited with 10 missed tackles by Wisconsin coaches and doesn’t have the strength to be a truly dynamic wrap-up hitter.

    A lack of length (31 ½” arms) will be a question mark for Schobert if teams view him as an edge-rusher. With poor length, poor height and average agility, he’s best suited to a 4-3 scheme, which takes away much of the production he put on the field in college as a rusher.

    Schobert isn’t flashy or overly explosive and lacks the traits to impress teams. With average strength to go along with a small frame, it’s questionable if he can get on the field to show off his skills. Throw in average instincts, and Schobert is more of a project than his numbers would suggest.

    PRO COMPARISON: Arthur Moats, Pittsburgh Steelers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

18. Scooby Wright, Arizona

24 of 41

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"239 lbs4.87s7.25s4.55s 

    POSITIVES

    A former 2-star recruit coming out of high school, according to 247Sports, Scooby Wright dominated the college football scene in 2014, winning the Bronko Nagurski, Rotary Lombardi and Chuck Bednarik awards while bringing home a unanimous first-team All-American selection and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.

    An instinctive, heady player, Wright sees the ball and attacks it. He plays with pro-level fundamentals and wins by doing the little things right in his run fits and reading keys. Wright is a forceful tackler and brings enough heat behind his pads to force turnovers and jar ball-carriers. His instincts and awareness put him around the ball, and he consistently made plays (forced fumbles, interceptions, sacks).

    Wright is reliable and consistent in coverage, showing the vision to make plays in short-to-intermediate coverage. His short-area quickness and instincts allow him to cover up a lack of athleticism in space.

    A dynamic playmaker in college, Wright will have to overcome the “short and slow” label, just as he did coming out of high school. There is a lot to love, though, in his work ethic and playmaking ability.

    NEGATIVES

    Wright battled through injuries in his last season of college, dealing with a torn meniscus and then a sprained foot.

    Wright lacks the size, athleticism, length and durability that teams look for. Teams we’ve spoke to noted he’ll have a hard time making a club with his lack of size and speed, and then more trouble staying there with his injuries.

    An overaggressive player on the field, Wright tries to run through linemen and ball-carriers but doesn’t have the strength to consistently make plays at that level. His frame is maxed out and doesn’t leave any room for added size/power, and already he’s limited due to poor hip flexibility and burst.

    Wright was an amazing college player, but when projecting him forward to the NFL, he lacks many of the traits needed to succeed. Fans will point to exceptions like Zach Thomas or Chris Borland, but those players have been few and far between.

    PRO COMPARISON: Shayne Skov, San Francisco 49ers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

17. Terrance Smith, FSU

25 of 41

    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"235 lbs4.75s7.14s4.89s 

    POSITIVES

    A versatile, lean inside linebacker prospect, Terrance Smith has the skill set to work as a 3-4 or 4-3 inside linebacker. Teams looking for a rangy 4-3 WLB will also give Smith a look.

    An active, involved linebacker, you have to love the way Smith sticks his nose in the play. He has the height and length teams want at linebacker and a frame to continue adding weight. A slippery pass-rusher, Smith will slide off blocks to make a splash in the pocket.

    Athletically, Smith is fluid and shows his abilities in his backpedal and when asked to turn and run after the ball. He can excel in coverage because of his range and length. Smith also shows enough speed to turn and chase the ball, and he is capable of making plays outside the tackle box. With smooth, smart angles, Smith is able to be productive attacking the ball on three downs.

    NEGATIVES

    Injuries will be heavily debated when Smith’s name comes up. He took a medical redshirt as a freshman, missed two games in 2014 with a neck injury and missed four games in 2015 with an ankle sprain.

    Right out of the gate, Smith has to add power and bulk to his frame. He’s not strong enough to stand up on the inside against NFL offensive linemen and will be overpowered at the point of attack. His length works against him here, as Smith can’t get low enough to win with leverage or power.

    Despite flashing as a playmaker, Smith is too often indecisive and slow in making reads. Fast offenses had Smith biting on misdirections and not taking his first cue to run to the ball. He gets too locked in on a back at times and misses what’s happening around him.

    PRO COMPARISON: Bruce Irvin, Oakland Raiders

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

16. Nick Vigil, Utah State

26 of 41

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"239 lbs4.72s6.73s4.00s 

    POSITIVES

    The younger brother of Zach Vigil of the Miami Dolphins, Nick enters the 2016 NFL draft as a junior but with the size and production teams want at linebacker.

    Vigil has the movement skills to avoid and work through traffic. He plays with excellent instincts and has quick first-step reads. He flows to the play and handles contact well. With quickness between the numbers, Vigil is able to make plays in the tackle box and outside it. He has the vision and awareness to read the ball and get in position without taking false steps.

    An underrated blitzer, Vigil can bend and snap around the edge and will be valuable on delayed pressures and twists. In coverage, he wins with his instincts and has the quickness to hold up in man or zone coverage.

    NEGATIVES

    Vigil made an interesting decision to leave early for the NFL, as he never truly dominated at Utah State. On the field, he lacks the play power to stand up interior blockers. He’s an undersized player who needs to add bulk and lower-body strength.

    Vigil is always moving but is rarely the first guy to the ball. He’s a chaser, not a leader, and has late reaction time in run situations. Poor awareness plagues the game film for Vigil, and he appears oblivious at times to his surroundings.

    A fun player moving forward, Vigil struggles to carry tight ends or wide receivers down the field on deep routes. He lacks the hips to turn and run and would be best served staying in zone coverage underneath.

    PRO COMPARISON: Erin Henderson, New York Jets

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

15. Antonio Morrison, Florida

27 of 41

    Rob Foldy/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"235 lbs4.75s7.14s4.89s 

    POSITIVES

    An All-SEC player in back-to-back seasons, Antonio Morrison is a hard-nosed, impact tackler in the middle of the defense.

    In short areas, Morrison wows with quickness and burst in pursuit. He has the nonstop motor to bounce all over the field making plays, and he uses balance and strength to fight off blockers and chips. Morrison is a hard hitter, and going back to his 2014 film, you see a reliable, consistent wrap-up tackler. A leader and captain on defense, Morrison has come a long way since his off-field issues in 2013.

    Morrison plays with the style you want from an inside linebacker. He’s rugged, tough and hits like a ton of bricks. While he doesn’t offer much upside in pass coverage, he does show the instincts and burst to chase quarterbacks through the A-gap on delayed pressures.

    NEGATIVES

    Injury concerns will be huge when teams evaluate Morrison. He injured his left knee in the 2014 Birmingham Bowl and had multiple surgeries to correct it. Morrison also has off-field concerns, as he was arrested in the summer of 2013 for punching a bouncer and then again for resisting arrest.

    Morrison will have to shed the label as a “two-down” player to see his draft stock hit Day 2. He’s limited in pursuit and doesn’t have the speed to give chase outside the pocket. With seven missed tackles in 2015 (per coaches), Morrison also saw his ability to bring down ball-carriers suffer.

    An undersized linebacker with short arms (30 ⅜”), Morrison lacks the speed to make up for poor measurables. With poor speed, he has to win with reads and timing, and Morrison struggles to get in the right place at the right time. An overaggressive bulldog of a player, Morrison can take himself out of the play with over-pursuit and poor discipline.

    If teams are willing to bet that he can return to 2014 form with more time away from injury, Morrison has value as a thumper in a 3-4 defense.

    PRO COMPARISON: Paul Dawson, Cincinnati Bengals

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

14. Beniquez Brown, Mississippi State

28 of 41

    Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"229 lbs4.77s7.07s4.28s 

    POSITIVES

    A junior entry into the 2016 NFL draft, Beniquez Brown was a surprise when he threw his name into the ring, but his play and athletic upside have teams excited.

    A smaller, undersized inside linebacker, Brown is a three-down playmaker who showed excellent tackle instincts and the range to make plays across the field. He is an above-average decision-maker and will trust his reads to take him to the ball. A field general who visibly controls the defense on the field, Brown has established himself as a leader at linebacker.

    Brown plays a gritty style of defense and is physical when approaching the ball. He has a long stride in his backpedal and is quick to turn and run. In short-to-intermediate zones, Brown plays the ball well in front of him and will jump routes to force contested catches or incompletions.

    A young player with big upside, Brown has the frame to add size and strength.

    NEGATIVES

    A small player with average athleticism and fluidity, Brown plays high on long legs and can lack pop in his pads at the point of attack. He is rangy on film but too often labors when the play demands that he reverse field. With slow change-of-direction skills, Brown can be left out of the play if he doesn’t hit on his initial read.

    Quicker than fast, Brown doesn’t run down plays from behind and will struggle against man-blocking schemes and on backside running plays. When asked to set and hold the edge in the run game, Brown can lose ground to fullbacks and tight ends.

    As a coverage linebacker, Brown needs work, but he is overall limited because of a lack of long speed and hip flexibility.

    PRO COMPARISON: Vince Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

13. De'Vondre Campbell, Minnesota

29 of 41

    Mike Carlson/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"232 lbs4.58s7.07sN/A 

    POSITIVES

    A transfer from Hutchinson Community College, De'Vondre Campbell settled into a starting role at Minnesota and impressed with 92 tackles and four sacks in 2015.

    A freak frame, Campbell is big, athletic, coordinated and moves through space like a safety or tight end. He has natural ability as a pass-rusher and led the Gophers in sacks during the last season. Campbell largely wins with length and speed on the edge, but he had success against Big Ten talent.

    An effective and involved tackler, Campbell sticks with the play and pops off the film as a clean-up tackler. He’s aggressive and physical at the point of attack and has no problem hunting for the ball in the middle of the field.

    Length, athleticism and toughness are things linebacker coaches will love when it comes time to watch Campbell’s film. If the scouts in the room don’t knock his instincts too much, he has a shot to be an early Day 3 selection.

    NEGATIVES

    Instincts and awareness are questionable when viewing Campbell’s film. He often slow-played the run and looked lost on misdirection too often for a senior linebacker. Campbell’s work on the whiteboard with NFL teams will be telling as to his football IQ.

    Part of the instincts question comes from Campbell playing all over the field and running past the play. He’s erratic in space and looks uncontrolled as he roams the field. Inconsistent as a coverage linebacker, Campbell can be a liability in zone coverage as he lets himself wander.

    An inefficient path-taker to the ball, Campbell loops to the ball before he takes a clean angle. With a lack of balance and pad height, his change of direction can be inconsistent.

    PRO COMPARISON: Tank Carder, Cleveland Browns

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

12. Dominique Alexander, Oklahoma

30 of 41

    Alonzo Adams/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"232 lbs4.75s7.81s4.59s 

    POSITIVES

    The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year after the 2013 season, Dominique Alexander decided to head to the NFL a year early. A runner with good open-field ability, Alexander is a rangy linebacker tailor-made to attack spread offenses.

    A productive tackler, Alexander rarely misses after contact. He’s a fluid athlete with good speed inside the numbers. An experienced, three-year starter, Alexander led the Sooners in tackles twice. He’s not the biggest player, but he brings power behind his pads to make impact tackles.

    Alexander is reliable in middle zone and man coverage and is comfortable in space. He has a quick first step when attacking the ball downhill and can beat blockers to the hole when his first read is right. He’s productive against read-option plays given his range and ability to track the ball inside-out.

    Alexander has the skills to play as a three-down linebacker in the NFL, and teams know what they’re getting from a player who never missed a game in college due to injury.

    NEGATIVES

    Undersized and lacking strength, Alexander isn’t strong enough to stand up at the point of attack. Too many times he loses ground to tight ends or fullbacks at the college level and will be at a major disadvantage against NFL interior offensive linemen.

    Alexander’s read-and-react skills need work, as he often overruns the play and loses the ball on screens and play-action. His change-of-direction ability doesn’t match his long speed, and Alexander struggles to recover to the outside if he guesses wrong and steps into the hole. A major weakness in Alexander's game is his inability to break free from blockers. Once they get him locked in, he's shut down.

    A solid athlete with NFL-level production, Alexander must add strength to make a lasting career at linebacker. As the game gets faster and more spread out, there’s room for a player with Alexander’s tools, especially in a 4-3 defense as a weak-side linebacker.

    PRO COMPARISON: Sean Spence, Tennessee Titans

    FINAL GRADE: 5.70/9.00 (Round 4—Backup Caliber)

11. Kyler Fackrell, Utah State

31 of 41

    Harry How/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"235 lbs4.75s7.14s4.89s 

    POSITIVES

    A height/weight/length prospect with instant-impact traits, Kyler Fackrell has the skill set to play stand-up linebacker, rush defensive end or a hybrid between the two. Mentally, there is nothing Fackrell can’t handle on the field. Coaches at Utah State raved to us at the Senior Bowl about his preparation habits and leadership on and off the field.

    He’s all about football.

    A former high school quarterback, Fackrell has quickness and speed for his frame. He’s a long strider with tree-trunk legs and uses hard-charging upfield burst to get into the backfield and make plays. Underused in college, Fackrell was often asked to drop into coverage instead of using his length and athleticism to force quarterbacks into mistakes.

    As a run defender, Fackrell is long and brings a big tackle radius, and he uses his length well to stack and shed at the point of attack. He’s a work in progress, but he has enough three-down tools as a run defender, pass-rusher and coverage backer to see the field early as a 4-3 outside linebacker.

    NEGATIVES

    Watching Fackrell in person during the week of Senior Bowl practices, the product didn’t match the hype. He’s a tall, stiff player with no core or hip flexibility. When asked to chase running backs or cover tight ends, he lacks twitch and is a labored, heavy mover. Fackrell’s film is better, but it’s tough to ignore how below-average he looked in Mobile.

    A 25-year-old rookie after serving an LDS mission and missing the 2014 season with an ACL injury, Fackrell was a man among boys on Saturdays. His big, long frame limits him athletically, and when coupled with poor reaction time, Fackrell struggles to be on time to the ball.

    The final question with Fackrell will be about his impact against the level of competition at Utah State. He disappeared at times and did the same during Senior Bowl practices when he was overshadowed by the top-tier competition. Fackrell flashed for the Aggies, but he wasn’t a consistent playmaker in a role that should have had him around the ball nonstop.

    PRO COMPARISON: Trent Murphy, Washington

    FINAL GRADE: 5.75/9.00 (Round 3-4—Backup Caliber)

10. Deion Jones, LSU

32 of 41

    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"222 lbs4.38s7.13s4.26s 

    POSITIVES

    Following in the footsteps of another undersized LSU linebacker (Kwon Alexander), Deion Jones hopes he can impress NFL teams with his movement and playmaking abilities.

    An incredibly fast athlete with excellent range and chase speed, Jones isn’t out of the play when the ball goes away from his side. A true sideline-to-sideline performer, Jones’ speed makes him a threat to play any linebacker position if he can add some size without losing speed.

    On film, Jones has a knack for making the big play. He lived around the ball in 2015 and will flash with TFLs and pass breakups. He’s an explosive, fiery player, and when utilized as a pass-rusher he can eat up cushions off the ball. Jones is deadly in space and has rare movement skills working laterally across the field.

    Despite a limited number of starts, Jones has experience as a rotational player at LSU and was voted a team captain in 2015. With amazing speed and athleticism, someone will bite on him early as a coverage linebacker with room to grow into a three-down playmaker.

    NEGATIVES

    Just a one-year starter at LSU, Jones is small for a linebacker and will be viewed differently by teams running 3-4 versus 4-3 schemes. In a 3-4 set, he’s more of a nickel linebacker, which has less draft-day value.

    Adding strength will be an early key for Jones in his pro career. He too easily gets pushed and bullied by high-caliber linemen in the SEC. Jones struggles to fight through traffic and tries to loop around the pile to make plays.

    A lack of fundamentals throughout his tape causes Jones to be viewed as more of a developmental prospect. He doesn’t have the awareness or footwork to stay tight in coverage, even though he’s quick enough to carry receivers up the field. Jones needs time to develop, but the payoff could be huge.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jelani Jenkins, Miami Dolphins

    FINAL GRADE: 5.90/9.00 (Round 3-4—Future Starter)

9. Kentrell Brothers, Missouri

33 of 41

    Gregory Payan/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'0"245 lbs4.89s6.99s4.11s 

    POSITIVES

    One of the most productive linebackers in college football during the 2015 season, Kentrell Brothers is an active and instinctive two-down tackler. A three-year starter, Brothers is NFL-ready.

    With a thick build and ideal balance, Brothers is able to stay off the ground and flow laterally to track the ball. His instincts are off-the-charts good, and he uses timing, patience and angles to attack the ball. A high-effort player, Brothers plays through the whistle and knocks blockers off their game with active, strong hands.

    A reliable coverage linebacker on hook/seam routes, Brothers can play on intermediate and short drops. He’s an excellent breakdown tackler and rarely lets a ball-carrier through his grasp.

    NEGATIVES

    Short and short-armed (30 ¾”), Brothers must overcome his physical limitations to make plays on Sundays. He’s a choppy runner in space, and with short legs it takes more effort for him to cover ground on the go.

    Brothers isn’t overly powerful or explosive in his playing style. He’s a smooth glider but doesn’t twitch or hop to the ball. With a lack of speed, tracking the ball can be a struggle for Brothers outside the hashes, and if he makes a wrong initial read, he’ll be lost in pursuit.

    As a coverage linebacker, Brothers struggles to match steps with speedy targets. Improved pass-drop depth will help Brothers make the plays in zone coverage he’s missing now.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos

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

8. Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia

34 of 41

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"243 lbs4.73s7.16s4.22s 

    POSITIVES

    One of the top inside linebacker prospects in the class, Nick Kwiatkoski led West Virginia in tackling in each of the last three seasons while playing both weak-side and middle linebacker.

    A stud in the weight and film room, coaches raved to us about Kwiatkoski’s love of the game. It shows on the field too, as he attacks the ball with the range of a former safety and the instincts of a longtime "Mike" backer. A mean, nasty player in the middle, Kwiatkoski isn’t intimidated by blockers and loves to stick his nose in the pile against the run.

    There is no wasted motion when Kwiatkoski is flowing to the ball. He’s instinctive and has the quick read awareness to get after it from the snap. He moves well laterally and can make tackles both in and outside the hashes.

    An above-the-line athlete, Kwiatkoski has the range, game speed and change-of-direction skills to be a hitter and a factor in coverage. His old skills at safety still show in his stop-and-start movements and backpedal.

    NEGATIVES

    Learning to shed blockers and keep his frame free will be a big hurdle for Kwiatkoski. He takes on unnecessary blockers at times and must instead focus on keeping his body from punishment it doesn’t need.

    A lack of power stands out when Kwiatkoski steps up to take on blockers. He doesn’t have an explosive first step, and when coming downhill to meet a ball-carrier or pulling lineman, he gets rocked back on his heels if he doesn’t win the leverage game.

    A high-floor, low-ceiling player, Kwiatkoski has the tools to be a three-down inside linebacker in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. A no-nonsense prospect, he’s a natural starter if his play strength and stack-and-shed awareness improve.

    PRO COMPARISON: Danny Trevathan, Chicago Bears

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

7. Joshua Perry, Ohio State

35 of 41

    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'4"254 lbs4.75s7.14s4.89s 

    POSITIVES

    A leader on the Ohio State defense, Joshua Perry was solid enough on the field to land first-team All-Big Ten honors after his senior season. A big, long (33 ⅞” arms), physical linebacker, Perry has the size and speed to play from day one.

    Perry’s production at Ohio State speaks for itself and shows right away that he belongs in the NFL. A sure thing as a tackler, Perry has a huge tackle radius and brings power behind his pads to thump ball-carriers. When he gets an angle and a clear line, whomever has the ball is going to regret it. Perry does a great job compensating for a lack of long speed with tight angles and timing off the snap.

    With the body and strength to withstand pressure from offensive linemen, Perry is one of the few true 3-4 inside linebackers in this class. At 254 pounds, he has thick, strong legs and will step up in the trenches to clear paths for his teammates and clog rushing lanes.

    When asked to get out in coverage, Perry matches up well against tight ends thanks to his length, speed and powerful hands to jam and redirect players at the line.

    NEGATIVES

    Perry was a jack-of-all-trades player at Ohio State, but what does he do well? Teams may struggle to see him as more than a two-down run-stuffer in a 3-4 scheme.

    Perry lacks the elite speed to stay on the field in passing situations. He’s a stiff-hipped mover when asked to flip and run down the seam and will struggle against NFL tight ends unless he wins at the line of scrimmage with a jam. By lacking the explosive, twitchy movements teams want in their linebackers, Perry may be typecast as an old-school thumper.

    Without pass-rushing skills, Perry lacks value besides being a run defender. He doesn’t have the quick-twitch hips to turn the edge and is slow-footed on delayed pressures and A-gap blitzes. With a tendency to overrun the ball, Perry opens himself up to poor gap discipline and can be a weakness in the area he’s supposed to be strong.

    PRO COMPARISON: Brooks Reed, Atlanta Falcons

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

6. Kamalei Correa, Boise State

36 of 41

    Joe Robbins/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'3"243 lbs4.69s6.96s4.18s 

    POSITIVES

    A defensive end at Boise State, Kamalei Correa has an interesting projection to the NFL. Some teams we’ve spoken to like him as a 3-4 outside linebacker, others will use him as a 4-3 defensive end and yet others want him to stand up and play 3-4 inside linebacker. That’s where we project him.

    A twitchy athlete in space, Correa moves well off the ball and gets upfield in a hurry. He offers speed rushing the passer off the edge and mixes it up nicely with a head-and-shoulder shake that gets offensive tackles off-balance. The mere threat of his speed is intimidating, so Correa should be deadly as a delayed rusher.

    With excellent lateral agility, Correa offers the ability to scrape and run down the ball. He’s fast in pursuit and has a nonstop motor for the ball. He’ll make plays on the backside and has the true chase speed to run down ball-carriers on the sideline. A sure tackler, he has some pop in his pads.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of length (31 ” arms) means Correa will have a hard time pressing blockers off his frame. With tight hips to match a lean body, he doesn’t make much sense as an outside player. If he’s moved off the ball to a linebacker position, Correa must learn from the ground up how to play there.

    A lack of experience in coverage will limit Correa off the jump. He’ll have to learn to take pass drops and use his hips working away from the line of scrimmage. A smart team won’t ask him to do more than hook/curl coverage early and will instead let him rush the A-gaps from inside.

    Run-blockers have their way with Correa at the point of attack, and no matter where he lines up in 2016, he’ll have to work on play power and using his hands to come free from blocks. At Boise State, Correa could overrun the play and correct with speed, but he has to be more disciplined in the pros to take smart angles and not waste steps.

    PRO COMPARISON: Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers

    FINAL GRADE: 6.50/9.00 (Round 2-3—Future Starter)

5. Su'a Cravens, USC

37 of 41

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"226 lbs4.69s6.92s4.69s 

    POSITIVES

    A safety during the first one-and-a-half seasons at USC, Su’a Cravens started playing closer and closer to the ball as a sophomore before finally making the move to linebacker in his junior and final year. An athletic, rangy, intelligent prospect, NFL teams will want Cravens attacking the ball as a matchup nightmare.

    Cravens is versatile, and watching him live against Notre Dame, you see him play on the edge of the line, split out covering the slot and even in the middle of the field. A capable defensive coordinator will have a lot of tools to work with. Cravens is fluid and athletic with natural man-coverage skills and the speed to cover tight ends all over the field.

    Against the run, Cravens did a nice job whipping around the edge and pursuing the ball away from him and stacking up to hold his edge. On stretch runs he avoids blocks and makes plays. Cravens is able to slip blocks to make tackles in traffic.

    A smart player on the field, Cravens is a leader on defense and has a tremendous work ethic.

    NEGATIVES

    A lack of ideal size for a linebacker position will be an issue for some teams—but it’s worth noting that safeties Deone Bucannon and Mark Barron are now playing linebacker full time. Cravens' biggest battle will be hanging in against NFL offensive linemen pulling down the path at him.

    Cravens must also convince teams that he wants to play linebacker. Throughout the draft process, he’s wavered back and forth about what position he will play. Cravens also canceled predraft visits with a number of teams due to a lack of time for training and travel. That may rub some folks the wrong way.

    If asked to play full time at linebacker, Cravens will need to work to fight through congestion to make plays. As it stands, he wants to loop around blockers and win with speed, but he’ll have to learn to go through blockers to hold contain and stuff the ball.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jaquiski Tartt, San Francisco 49ers

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

4. Reggie Ragland, Alabama

38 of 41

    Eric Gay/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"247 lbs4.72s7.55s4.28s 

    POSITIVES

    Reggie Ragland was considered a top prospect for last year’s draft, but he returned to Alabama as a leader on defense, a move that paid off as he helped lead the Crimson Tide to another national title. Now Ragland is viewed as one of the top run-defending inside linebackers in the draft.

    A thumper with elite power and toughness at the point of attack, Ragland was made to stuff the run. He has a strong anchor against offensive linemen and is relentless in pursuit chasing the ball inside and outside the hashes. A scheme-versatile inside linebacker, Ragland can also bring pressure as a pass-rusher when given reps there.

    When dropping into zones in the middle of the field, Ragland gets good depth and has the closing speed to read, react and run to the ball. He’s also physical enough to put a body on tight ends and wide receivers crossing his face and can be an intimidator.

    Ragland is what you want in a linebacker—a four-year player with two years of starting experience on an elite program, a team captain and a leader in his community.

    NEGATIVES

    The first complaint from every scout and coach about Ragland was a lack of play speed. That leads to questions about his ability to stay on the field as a three-down player in today’s NFL.

    Ragland does lack top-end speed and fluidity, but it’s only highlighted when he’s slow to diagnose. That happens, and he’s left playing catch-up, which he’s not fast enough to do against pro-level speed. The Alabama scheme opened up some big lanes for Ragland to run through with three potential first-rounders on the defensive line, and there will be concerns that those players made his job too easy.

    As a third-down player, Ragland is limited to A- and B-gap rushes due to a lack of flexibility and burst. He’s also not a matchup player in man coverage due to his limited speed. He may be taken off the field, especially early in his career, when in obvious passing situations.

    PRO COMPARISON: Jerod Mayo, retired

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

3. Darron Lee, Ohio State

39 of 41

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"232 lbs4.47s7.12s4.20s 

    POSITIVES

    Darron Lee is the best linebacker in the 2016 draft class without a knee issue. As it stands, he’s a legitimate top-20 prospect and one of the best playmakers in the defensive class. A former quarterback in high school, Lee is still putting weight on his 21-year-old frame and is a top upside player.

    A three-down player who jumped off the screen on a loaded Ohio State defense, Lee has speed-rushing moves and can get into the backfield with first-step speed and violent hands. He plays with a mean streak and goes after the ball with a nonstop motor. A quick, twitchy player coming downhill, Lee is fast to diagnose and has the athleticism to go get the ball on inside and outside runs.

    A true sideline-to-sideline player, Lee has the skill set to play in the slot covering up receivers or tight ends, and from that same alignment he can be a deadly blitzer. NFL teams will also experiment with him as an inside linebacker in 3-4 schemes, at any of the three linebacker spots in a 4-3 and even as a situational pass-rusher.

    Lee will only be limited by the imagination of his NFL defensive coordinator. He’s the type of athlete and player to erase one of the offense’s best players.

    NEGATIVES

    A smaller linebacker, Lee was listed at 218 pounds just one year ago. He’s worked to add size and strength, but he must continue to get bigger and stronger into his career. With just two years of experience at Ohio State, others will be concerned that his production was a result of the talent around him.

    Lee was a freelancer for the Buckeyes and must be reined in and taught to play assignment football. He was free to roam and make plays for the last two seasons, so it will be an adjustment for him. With this, Lee must eliminate the times where he overruns the ball and relies on speed and change-of-direction ability to save him.

    In college, Lee was often one of the best athletes on the field, which allowed him to make plays without much discipline. And while he’ll still be an elite athlete in the NFL, he’ll have to learn to read and react instead of roaming to the ball.

    PRO COMPARISON: Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    FINAL GRADE: 7.15/9.00 (Round 1—Top 15 Player Potential)

2. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

40 of 41

    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'2"240 lbsINJINJINJ 

    POSITIVES

    The top-ranked player in the draft class at the time of his knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl, if Jaylon Smith can return to the player he was at Notre Dame, he’ll be special in the NFL.

    A gifted three-down player, Smith was asked to play all over the field for the Fighting Irish. He lined up in the middle of the field, coming off the edge and even split out to cover slot receivers. Smith was able to have success at every level thanks to unbelievable movement skills, closing speed and instincts. His change-of-direction skills would have been tops in the linebacker corps before injury.

    An explosive tackler, Smith runs through the ball-carrier and brings heat with him. In the season opener against Texas, he split 250-pound quarterback Tyrone Swoopes in half with a punishing open-field tackle. Smith is an instinctive, heady player who puts himself in the right place at the right time and is rarely out of position. When he does make the wrong read, he’s fast enough to recover and attack the ball in a chase situation.

    A true sideline-to-sideline linebacker, Smith’s range and tackling radius are tops in the class. When unleashed as a coverage man or pass-rusher, he made a similar impact. A healthy Smith would have been the top player in the class. As it stands, his grade is a best-case scenario assuming he’s back on the field in 2017.

    NEGATIVES

    Smith was pushed from behind while going out of bounds during the Fiesta Bowl and suffered injuries to his ACL and LCL. There have been reports and speculation that this led to nerve damage in the knee, but those reports have not been confirmed by Smith or his doctors. There is a cloud of speculation hanging over Smith’s injury, with no definitive word on if or when he’ll play again.

    Smith’s injury will be evaluated on a team-by-team basis. Some doctors may believe he’ll be back for the 2017 season, while others may feel there was nerve damage and his return is too risky for their team to invest in. Where Smith is drafted will depend on what each team sees, which makes predicting his draft slot impossible.

    Looking at Smith’s on-field weaknesses, he struggled before 2015 to be a solid wrap-up tackler and often looked for the big shot instead of the sure thing. He relied on speed to get him to the ball in space and could stand to take cleaner angles with straighter lines to the ball-carrier.

    PRO COMPARISON: Patrick Willis, retired

    FINAL GRADE: 7.90/9.00 (Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential)

1. Myles Jack, UCLA

41 of 41

    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press
    Combine/Pro Day Results
    HeightWeight40 Time3-Cone Short Shuttle
    6'1"245 lbsINJINJ INJ 

    POSITIVES

    Tied with Jalen Ramsey for the highest grade of any player in this class, Myles Jack has the potential to be a franchise-changer at linebacker and as a weapon for the defense. A former dual threat at UCLA, Jack has played running back and flashes rare athleticism and movement skills in space that show why he was so deadly for the Bruins.

    As a top-tier athlete, many expect Jack to be a finesse player, but he attacks ball-carriers and offensive linemen with an aggressive, physical style. When playing in the middle of the field, he will step up to engage blockers and brings power in his hands with the explosive first step to eat up ground.

    Jack’s true strength comes in how effective he can be on third down. With elite speed, hips and feet, Jack can erase tight ends in man coverage or drop into a deep zone in the middle of the field or off a slot receiver and make an impact. He flows to the ball with an effortless stride and has the hands to make a play on the ball when he gets to it.

    A three-down star on defense, Jack can do it all thanks to elite athleticism, strength, instincts and natural playmaking skills. If healthy, Jack is one of the surest things in the draft class. He has the tools to be a starter immediately, and with his coverage skills, he’ll be able to change how offenses operate.

    NEGATIVES

    A meniscus tear suffered early in the 2015 season saw Jack withdrawing from the program midseason and declaring for the NFL draft to begin rehab and training for the combine. Jack wasn’t able to run at the combine, though, and has yet to run a 40-yard dash in public or private workouts.

    In speaking to sources with multiple NFL teams, there are some team doctors who feel Jack’s knee will be fine and others who believe his knee condition will limit the length of his career and be susceptible to future injuries.

    Focusing on the field given the varying opinions on his knee condition, Jack can stand to be a better wrap-up tackler. At UCLA he got away with making attempts that didn’t include bringing his arms around the ball-carrier, and that led to missed tackles.

    Jack is undersized for a traditional linebacker role and bulked up to 245 pounds for the combine weigh-in. He may be downgraded slightly on some boards given his lack of a true position.

    PRO COMPARISON: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

    FINAL GRADE: 7.99/9.00 (Round 1—Pro Bowl Potential)