By John Kaufman and Chandler Adams
NFL Draft Analysts
@ClevelandSpyder and @Chandler Adamss
Linebacker isn't exactly considered a premier position in the NFL. When free agency rolls around each year, the top linebackers don't get paid like the top cornerbacks do, or the best edge rushers, or any other position group really. They are typically considered interchangeable and to a certain extent, largely replaceable. In fact, you might say that their worth to the average NFL franchise is eerily similar to their counterparts on the offensive side of the ball...
And while the NFL is clearly minimizing the importance of ball-carriers and of those whose job it is to stop them, one axiom about these positions will always be true:
In the biggest of moments and on the brightest of stages, when your team either can’t get a yard on 4th and 1 or can’t prevent anyone from doing so, running backs and linebackers seem awfully important then, don’t they?
Luckily, this draft has some players who can pick up a 4th and 1 when you really need it. But we’re not here to talk about those guys today. No, today we’re here to discuss the players that make big plays and huge stops when you need them most, and help get your defense off the field so that your offense can score more points. Today we’re talking about the 2020 linebacker draft prospects.
Isaiah Simmons truly is a unicorn, and is the #1 player at this position for every draft evaluator in the solar system. He’s a lock to go in the top ten of the NFL draft.
After Simmons, though, things get wonky. The order in which the remaining LBs get drafted will most likely depend upon their specific skillsets as well as the needs of their future teams.
Do you need a three-down linebacker? LSU's Patrick Queen might be your guy. Oh, but your GM values size and Queen is too little, eh? No problem. Allow me to introduce you to Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray.
Each of these prospects displays unique and varying talents that different NFL GMs will value in a multitude of ways. On our podcast, Chandler and I talked about what each of these players would potentially bring to the table. As you’re listening, check out our personal rankings below.
*NOTE ABOUT JOHN’S RANKING UPDATES:
On the podcast (recorded on Feb 20), my rankings were:
5. Troy Dye
6. Zach Baun
On the podcast, I mentioned that Zach Baun won’t be an edge rusher in the NFL. That is simply incorrect. While Baun may not be the longest player, his get-off and quick-twitch rushing skills shined on tape and should translate very well at the next level. Because Baun’s skillset is more versatile than Troy Dye’s is, and because Baun has more potential in the NFL, I moved him ahead of Troy Dye.
**NOTE – not initially ranked on my list, but Chandler talked about him for a bit on the podcast
John Kaufman and Chandler Adams
Across the Board Sports