NFL Scouting Combine: Linebacker Recap

There are a number of edge rushers for teams to choose from in the top end of the draft. 4 of the first 10 picks could end up being pass rushers. Teams place an extremely high value in players who can get after the quarterback. The normal standup inside linebackers is a thin group. There may only be 2-3 inside linebackers with average impact. Here are the players who caught my eye.

STOCK RISING: Pass rushers

1. Vic Beasley (Clemson)

Beasley had the best day of any player at the combine period. He checked off literally every single box that teams had questions about. Teams were worried about his weight then miraculously weighed 20 pounds heavier (246) than his playing weight. Then the question was could Beasley have the same explosion after a 20 pound weight gain. A 4.53 40 time quieted those nay sayers being the fastest time of anyone in his position. Then scouts still had concerns about his overall strength. Beasley then posted the most bench press reps of any defensive player in the combine. Beasley is my number one rated linebacker and it’s not even close. Beasley is the all time sack leader in Clemson school history.

Here are Vic Beasley’s highlights from the combine

2. Eli Harold (Virginia)

Harold is a guy who isn’t amonst the big names but proved he belongs. His performance in both the on field drills and excellent running and jumping numbers may have jumped Harold into the first round. The Cavalier from Virginia is a much safer pick than guys like Dante Fowler Jr, Randy Gregory, and Shane Ray who have bust potential written all over them. Jason Worlids of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a player who matches up with Harold in terms of player comps.

STOCK FALLING: Pass rushers

1. Dante Fowler Jr (Florida)

By all accounts Fowler had a good performance in terms of drills but it was the character concerns that worried me. During the 40 yard dash Fowler thought it would be a good idea to wear a gold watch during the run. In my opinion a player who is more concerned with wearing a watch to run with rather than focusing on the drill itself has red flag written all over it

Then when we thought the shenanigans was over, Folwer decides it is a good idea to have a gatorade towel dangling from his waist during the on field drills. Just a bone head move to say the least. I expect the Jacksonville Jaguars to take him number three overall and then release him 2-3 years later for being a complete bust. Below are the highlights to his day where you can see the towel and watch in action.

2. Shane Ray (Missouri)

Ray did not participate due to a hamstring injury. The Missouri linebacker will now need a strong pro day to keep his first round grade. Ray is a player who needed to perform because of his one year wonder status, yet didn’t even see the field. His teammate Marcus Golden also was a heck of a player on the other side making it difficult to double team Ray. Like Dante Fowler, Shane Ray is another edge rusher that makes me say “Ill pass”.

STOCK RISING: Middle Linebacker

  • Eric Kendricks (UCLA)

Brother of Eagles linebacker Mycheal Kendricks, Eric is basically an identical. Kendricks was one of the few inside linebackers who decided to show up. Some of the other top rated guys just completely laid an egg, Kendricks was not one of them. In my opinion, Kendricks remains the only logical first round inside linebacker. That being said there is no C.J. Mosley caliber type guy like last year.

STOCK FALLING: Middle Linebacker

  • Paul Dawson (TCU)
  • Denzel Perryman (Miami)
  • Benardrick McKinney (Miss State)

Going into the week there were three potential first round inside linebackers. Not one of them was named Eric Kendricks. Dawson, Perryman, and McKinney decided flopping was the best course of action. Dawsome was probably the worst, running a pedestrian 4.93 40 time which is well below the average. Perryman probably has the best chance at success having the best instincts, but doesn’t have first round admiration anymore.

Defpen Pass Rusher Rankings:

  1. Vic Beasley (Clemson)
  2. Nate Orchard (Utah)
  3. Eli Harold (Virginia)
  4. Hau’oli Kikaha (Washington)
  5. Xzavier Dickson (Alabama)

Defpen Inside Linebacker Rankings:

  1. Eric Kendricks (UCLA)
  2. Hayes Pullard (USC)
  3. Stephone Anthony (Clemson)
  4. Denzel Perryman (Miami)
  5. Trey Depriest (Alabama)