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2021 NFL Draft LB Rankings Re-Evaluated

As we move through the pro days and hear the noise of outlandish forty times and verticals through the roof, I have personally gone through and done more research on every position.

The Football Scout 365 Big Board

Don't forget to check out the full Football Scout 365 NFL Draft Big Board.

After Further Review NFL Draft Edition On YouTube

You can check out our Football Scout 365 After Further Review NFL Draft Edition on Youtube. We have five shows so far, three covering the QB position where I break down and connect the dots between player skillset and what the player displays on film in relation to such buzzwords like arm talent, arm angle, pocket presence etc.

What I look for when evaluating a LB.

When examining the LB position, you have to understand how to ID what LB type a player is. Is he an edge-style player? A Mike Backer (Middle), a Jack, or Will backer (weakside). The definitions will vary by the scheme, but to keep things simple, let's talk about LB traits that matter when scouting. Again scheme matters, are they 4-3 or a 3-4 style player, etc. But today, I want to talk about the inside LB positions. I'll start with the Mike LB.

The Mike LB is the alpha, the QB of the defense. He is often lined up in the middle of the defense, but his position might vary because of his versatility. Regardless, the Mike LB has to be an instinctual player who can get downhill versus the run, shed blocks, and drop into coverage when necessary. Size and versatility do matter at the LB position now more than ever; whether it's the Mike, Jack, or the WIll, they must all be versatile to defend against the new age pass-heavy offenses. The Mike LB will be lined up on the strong side (TE, or formation heavy) most of the time. The Will LB or the Jack LB will line up opposite to the weak side. Again this also varies based on personnel.

So to shorten this up, you want your LB's to be athletic, good tacklers, physical, able to shed blocks, a player who can dance in traffic, and can cover in space. And lastly, does he read and react well to what the offense is throwing at him? does he over pursue or respond wildly to play fakes? Does he find himself in a good position more than out of position? And can he matchup with a TE, RB, or move into the slot if tasked to do so?

2021 NFL Draft LB Rankings

Okay, so let's dive into the LB rankings;

1) Penn State LB Micah Parsons 6-2 245 lbs Instant Impact Player

LB's ranked this high need to be unique, and Parsons is a real difference-maker. He possesses modern speed and old-school size that NFL coaches and GM's covet. Parsons's ability to sniff out the run game is tremendous. But his speed is undeniable; he possesses 4.3 or low 4.4 speed at a position that needs to cover the NFL's new age TE's. He needs to improve his pass coverage ability at the next level.

2) Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah 6-2 216 lbs Potential Upside Player

Koramoah fits the mold of today's new-aged LB. Gone are the days where you have two or three 240+ LB's. Koramoah fits the Patrick Queen or Devin Bush mold. As physical as he is fast, he is good in coverage and a very good open-field tackler.

3) Tulsa LB Zaven Collins 6-4 260 lbs Potential Upside Player

Arguably the most dynamic defender in CFB, Collins played several high school positions, including QB and safety. Collins is an intelligent player who uses his size, quickness, and power to make splash plays. He won the Nagurski award in 2020 as the nation's top LB, and he did so by posting big play after big play compiling 4 sacks, forcing two fumbles while picking off 4 passes, and scoring two times on defense. He is what NFL defenses are looking for in a LB. A guy who can rush the passer and pass cover when needed.

4) Mizzou LB Nick Bolton 6-0 232 lbs Potential Upside Player

Bolton is a capable pass defender and good run stopper; he is a legit Mike linebacker at the next level, which provides your defense with experience. He does a good job at navigating in traffic, and though he can shed blocks, he needs to improve his ability to disengage once he is at the NFL level. He is an NFL-ready player who could be a day one starter.

5) LSU LB Jabril Cox 6-3 233 lbs Potential Upside Player

Cox is once again an excellent example of what NFL scouts and GM's are looking for in the NFL at the LB position. He is good in coverage and has the wheels to defend not only athletic TE's, but he can handle RB's when needed. He can guard a slot player if needed, and he thrives in space, an area where a lot of LB's are not agile enough defenders. He needs to do a better job shedding blocks in the run game. His tape vs. run shows promise, but that's the most significant improvement area you see with Cox. NFL defenses will try to attack his weakness as a run defender, so the improvement here can help allow him to become a legitimate and impactful NFL starter.


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