2020 Deep Dive Rookie LB’s
4/17/20
David Reed https://twitter.com/Nfldraft_dwr

2020 line-backing class shows some good depth for teams needing a LB this year. A lot of speed backers and old school tackle machines.

Isaiah Simmons – Clemson 6-4 230

Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons

Pros:
– Phenomenal Traits
– Amazing athlete with sideline to sideline ability
– Match up neutralizer
– Good tackler with a big tackle radius
– Can play S,LB,CB,OLB
– Good feel in the zone
– Flexible
– High motor

Cons:
– So versatile that he lacks reps at a full time position
– Improve feel and processing some as a true ILB if team plays him there
– Could get a bit stronger

Overall:
Simmons is arguably the best prospect in this draft and the true wildcard on where he will land. He’s a top 10 talent and is so versatile. A team is going to get a playmaker for the defensive side of the ball who can do it all

Patrick Queen – LSU 6-1 227

LSU LB Patrick Queen

Pros:
– Amazing range
– Closing speed
– Process plays quick
– Good awareness in space
– Zone coverage
– Plays physical
– Times the snap well

Cons:
– Only played 16 games
– Did not start first 5 games on 2019
– Stronger
– Better angles in open field

Overall:
Queen is a today linebacker with his size and speed but plays physical too. Biggest concern is the lack of overall playing time and why he couldn’t win starting job out of camp in 2019.

Kenneth Murray – Oklahoma 6-2 234

Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray

Pros:
– Rangy and Urgent player
– Tough
– Always attacks
– Fast and tight angles
– Speed and athletic for coverage
– Contact balance
– Powerful and explosives hitter
– Tone setter

Cons:
– Can run himself out of a play
– Decision making can improve
– Shed blocks better

Overall:
Murray is another today style linebacker. Fast rangy player who attacks the ball hard and hits hard. He has the ability to play in coverage but needs to improve some there and improve his decision making.

Zach Baun – Wisconsin 6-3 240

Wisconsin OLB Zack Baun

Pros:
– Rush the passer and drop in coverage
– Rush variety
– Snap anticipation
– Counter rush moves
– Flexible
– Looks natural in space in coverage
– Read and react skills
– Effor and pursuit
– Competes Hard against the run

Cons:
– Longer and needs to add more mass
– Can loss to blocker if he does not win the first move
– Broken foot twice (2017,2018)
– Diluted Pee test at combine .. red flag

Overall:
Baun could have been listed under the edge rusher article the other day because he’s an OLB but his ability to drop on coverage which I wanted him to be with the LBs. He is a good OLB prospect that can rush and drop in coverage. Which is needed today. He needs to get stronger and answer the questions of why he had a diluted pee test.

Malik Harrison – Ohio State 6-3 246

Ohio State LB Malik Harrison

Pros:
– Big and Physical
– Plays through contact
– Leverages the gap well and plays at the line
– Pop in his hands and length to shed blocks
– Hand placement
– Navigates traffic well
– Sure tackler with power
– Effective Blitzer
– Pursuit
– Can play shallow zone coverage
– Played all 3 LB spots at OSU

Cons:
– Not a fluid athlete
– Limited in deep zone coverage (was asked to spy or blitz instead of cover on passing downs)
– Small delay in play recognition
– Lateral movement
– Recovery speed
– Angles

Overall:
Malik is a strong physical linebacker that can play at the line and attack the ball well. He is more of an old school linebacker but can handle shallow zone coverage. He wasn’t asked to cover a lot at OSU so teams will want to see if he can do that more than he has shown.

Jordyn Brooks – Texas Tech 6-1 245

Texas Tech LB Jordyn Brooks

Pros:
– Big and Physical
– Shows good range and lateral pursuit
– Attacks downhill
– Explosive tackler
– Amazing form tackler
– Can handle the spy responsibility
– Gap shooting
– Mobile enough to handle coverage
– Tone setter
– Motor

Cons:
– Unproven in coverage but has the ability to handle it
– More of a see ball chase ball mentality
– Anticipate the throws better
– Needs to take on blocks more than trying to work around them

Overall:
Brooks is a great prospect that can tackle, who’s big and physical but has speed to play sideline to sideline. He needs to prove overall in coverage but has the speed to handle it.

Troy Dye – Oregon 6-4 225

Oregon LB Troy Dye

Pros:
– Productive player
– Range and athletic ability
– Good in space
– Can man to man TEs and still developing this skill
– Zone coverage
– High Motor
– Sideline to sideline speed
– Energy on the field

Cons:
– Anticipation needs to improve some
– Can read the run bad
– Learn to shed blocks better
– Not a strong tackler
– Stronger
– Angles

Overall:
Dye is a speed coverage LB that can cover. He is today’s style LB but lacks strength to shed blocks and isn’t a strong powerful tackler. He is a day 2 option though to handle coverage which most teams want now a days

Akeem Davis-Gaither – Appalachian State 6-2 219

Appalachian State S Akeem Davis-Gaither

Pros:
– Athletic
– Physical for size
– Contact sleeper
– Explosive in hips
– Coverage upside
– Range
– Special team player

Cons:
– Needs to add size and strength
– Can over run plays
– Can be blocked due to size
– Used weird at App State, and needs to learn traditional LB position more

Overall:
Smaller school linebacker that needs to get bigger but is physical for his size and a great athlete that can play in today’s NFL

Logan Wilson – Wyoming 6-2 241

Wyoming LB Logan Wilson

Pros:
– Read and react ability
– Control
– Good ability to mirror the Rb
– Physical play
– Wrap up tackler

Cons:
– Man coverage
– Leverage
– Clear blocks

Overall:
Wilson is an old school LB who is asked to make tackles. He will need to improve in coverage overall to have the most effective career

Willie Gay Jr – Mississippi State 6-1 243

Pros:
– Explosive
– Closing speed
– Thick frame
– Violent punch
– Quickness to work space and coverage
– Sure tackler
– Anticipates
– Every Down LB

Cons:
– Multiple suspension
– Plays reckless at times
– Spacial awareness
– Angles
– Wasted movement in his game
– Processing skills

Overall:
Willie Gay has all the ability to be the best LB in this draft. He needs some polishing in space and processing the plays but his biggest knock is the off the field. He miss a lot of time with suspension but when he’s on the field is elite.

Davion Taylor – Colorado 6-1 224

Colorado LB Davion Taylor

Pros:
– Explosive (heat seeking missile)
– Physical tackler
– Movement skills to man up on TE and RB
– Always competes

Cons:
– Raw/football IQ
– Processing Skills
– Stronger

Overall:
Taylor is developing still as a LB but shows why team will want him mid rounds. He is physical and has ability to cover.

Joe Bachie Jr. – Michigan State 6-2 231

Michigan State LB Joe Bachie Jr.

Pros:
– Downhill thumper
– Plays close to the line
– Tackle machine
– Power and balance
– Leverage in the gaps
– Shed blocks well
– Diagnosis plays

Cons:
– Limited play speed and range
– Limited zone coverage use
– Man coverage
– PED -missed 2nd half of 2019 due to suspension

Overall:
Bachie is an old school tackle machine LB who struggles in coverage and why he is falling. He is a mid round LB who can take care of the middle on the defense.

Evan Weaver – California 6-2 234

California LB Evan Weaver

Pros:
– Fierce competitor
– Passion and urgency
– Process the run and quick to the ball
– Spacial awareness
– Stack and shed blocks
– Form tackler

Cons:
– Range
– Bad in zone
– Change of direction
– Recovery speed

Overall:
Weaver is a mid round LB who needs to improve in coverage but competes every down and is a good tackler.

Jacob Phillip – LSU 6-4 233

LSU LB Jacob Phillips

Pros:
– Natural feel
– Physical finisher
– Ideal straight line speed
– Secure tackler
– Energy

Cons:
– Lateral movement
– Tight hips when changing direction
– Shed blocks better
– Coverage
– Strength

Overall:
Phillips is an explosive downhill LB who hits hard and feels natural out there. He needs to use that straight line speed and translate it better to sideline to sideline ability. Must work to get stronger to shed blocks and improve in coverage

David Woodward – Utah State 6-2 235

Utah State LB David Woodward

Pros:
– Nose for the football
– Processing skills
– Urgency
– Pursuit angles
– Sure tackler
– Works the zone well
– Short area quickness

Cons:
– Range
– Strength to get off block
– Not the best with TEs 1 on 1
– Injury concerns (history of concussions two broken vertebrae in HS and 2019 season ending injury)

Overall:
Woodward is falling due to injury concerns. He plays with a good motor and process plays well and finds the football. He needs to get stronger but he’s falling cause of health.

Cameron Brown – Penn State 6-5 232

Penn St. LB Cameron Brown

Pros:
– Covers ground laterally well
– Instincts
– Angles
– Striker mentality
– Decent in coverage
– Capable Blitzer

Cons:
– Longer frame that lacks mass
– Balance in space is an issue
– Anticipate in zone coverage better
– Open field tackling is only okay

Overall:
Brown is a later round LB who can help on Special teams early and continue to grow and learn. He needs to add some more size and could develop into a rotation player and possible decent starter.

Thank you for reading! Any questions or comments?

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