NFL Draft: Top five LBs heading into the Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is about to get underway in Indianapolis. Here is a look at our rankings of players at each position heading into the event. Today, we move on to the linebackers.
MORE: Farrell's Mock Draft
Stats: White led LSU with 123 tackles including 12 for loss and three sacks. He added three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 10 quarterback hurries and six pass deflections.
Farrell’s take: We knew White was a four-star talent; we just couldn’t figure out at which position to rank him. I remember when he first came onto the radar he was considered the next Leonard Fournette in the state – a massive and fast running back prodigy. However, he kept getting bigger and lost speed, so he was projected either as a linebacker or a fullback/H-back, or even a kid who could grow into a defensive tackle. He wasn’t very good covering in space at all, so we ranked him as a fullback and now he’s showing us we should have kept him at linebacker. He’s a big hitter, always has been, and is the clear No. 1 linebacker.
Stats: Bush led the Wolverines with 80 tackles including 9.5 for loss and five sacks. The former four-star added two quarterback hurries and six pass break-ups.
Farrell’s take: We had Bush ranked in the Rivals250 and as a top 10 inside linebacker, but I never expected him to be as dominant as he has been in his college career. He’s a much bigger hitter at the college level than I expected, and his lack of length – something we worried about – hasn’t hurt him at all. He explodes to the football, arrives with a thump and was a huge key for Michigan’s defense.
Recruiting: Alabama was always considered the front-runner but things got interesting when Georgia made a late push and Wilson ended up visiting Athens before signing day. Still, the Crimson Tide won out in his recruitment.
Stats: Wilson was fourth on the Crimson Tide with 71 tackles including five for loss and a sacks. The former five-star also added two interceptions, seven quarterback hurries and a safety this season.
Farrell’s take: Wilson lived up to his five-star status. He was always an instinctual player who was great in coverage, but also loved to hit. He wasn’t the longest linebacker in the world, but fits the mold of what teams are looking for these days – quick twitch kids who are great in space and can cover a lot of ground. He’s also an excellent blitzer.
Stats: Pratt led NC State with 105 tackles including 10.5 for loss and six sacks. He forced two fumbles, had a fumble recovery and added seven quarterback pressures.
Farrell’s take: Pratt was ranked in the Rivals250 and had good length and range coming out of high school. He was thin but had a good frame to build on and was very explosive to the football. He’s been developed and coached very well at NC State and his athleticism stands out.
Recruiting: In October of his senior season, Coney committed to Notre Dame over Florida and Miami during a ceremony at his high school. Before his decision, the four-star visited with the Irish and the Gators, who finished a close second.
Stats: Coney led the Irish with 123 total tackles including 9.5 for loss and four sacks. He added an interception, a fumble recovery and four pass breakups.
Farrell’s take: Coney was a big and powerful inside linebacker coming out of high school who arrived at the football with a thump but wasn’t very long or tall. Now he is rising on NFL Draft boards because he can cover so much ground and is a sure and aggressive tackler as well as being one of the leaders of the Notre Dame defense. We had him highly rated, but he played even better than that.
TWO TO WATCH
Stats: Lamar was second on the Clemson team with 85 tackles including 5.5 for loss and three sacks. The former five-star added eight quarterback pressures.
Farrell’s take: Lamar was a five-star player out of high school because he was big and powerful, and also rangy and solid in coverage. To add quickness at the college level he actually gained weight and power. He’s come along a little slower than expected, but last season showed his range and physical abilities. His physical skills have NFL scouts encouraged, but he hasn’t taken the next step and is in the second- or third-round range now.
Recruiting: Joseph committed to Florida shortly after National Signing Day in his junior year. There was plenty of drama to follow as Miami, USC and especially Alabama tried to flip him late in the recruiting process, but he stuck with the Gators.
Stats: Joseph led the Gators with 93 tackles, nine for loss, including four sacks. The former three-star added five pass break-ups and a fumble recovery.
Farrell’s take: Joseph was a mid-level three-star out of high school with average size who lacked great burst. He was good in coverage but had trouble with bigger blockers. He developed nicely at Florida and is now seen as an athletic ‘backer who can drop into coverage and run plays down.