2017 NFL Draft – Linebackers

The past few weeks, we’ve looked at the O-line and DE’s, 2 definite areas of need. This week, it’s time to focus on the front 7 playmakers, the LB’s. We’ve had some good ones in the past, but it feels like it’s been a while since we had either a dominant MLB knocking the snot out of everyone, or a guy who just seems to be everywhere making big plays, INT’s sacks, tackles for loss etc. It’s high time to find one, so let’s look at those linebackers!

Reuben Foster LB 6’0” 229 Alabama

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While it would be ideal for Foster to slide all the way to the #22 pick, it’s just not very likely. Foster could well be a top 10 pick, except for one mistake when he blew up at the medical exams at the Hospital during the NFL combine, which is most likely not going to impact his status that much. Who knows, maybe like Wyo says, we want the guy, we go ahead and get the guy and trade up to do so.

Foster is a star in the making, and the last 2 years at Alabama, he showed us what he can do. His Senior year was his best, 115 tackles, (60 solo), 13 TFL’s, 5 sacks, and 2 passes defensed. On a talented defense, Foster still stood out. He can play any of the three 4-3 LB spots, and he would be an instant upgrade wherever he plays. Although Foster didn’t participate at the combine or his pro day, his speed and athleticism are well known. When he lost 20 lbs in his Senior year, it was like he took the piano off his back. True leader who loves to lay the lumber. NFL.com has Foster as the top rated LB at 6.4
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Haason Reddick LB 6’1” 237 Temple

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Reddick is a little bit more complicated. He was mostly used a DE at Temple, and he truly excelled at rushing the passer. In the NFL though, he will either project as a 4-3 OLB, or 3-4 OLB, and possibly even an inside LB in a 3-4. Reddick has the athleticism to play any of those spots, a very explosive athlete with 4.52 speed, a 36.5” vertical, and the power too with 24 reps. Always tough to project how successful he will be changing positions, I’m not worried in the least. I’d take this “Temple Tough” athlete at #22 in a heartbeat! Reddick was a very disruptive DE, in his Senior year, Reddick totaled 65 tackles (43 solo), 22.5 TFL’s (Not a misprint), 9.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FR, and 3 FF’s. Playmaker!!! Just a note, When I listen to this kid talk, I hear an intelligent kid who is very grounded. When I hear the experts talk about him, they think he’s going to be a very good NFL LB, no matter where he plays.
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Zach Cunningham LB 6’3” 234 Vanderbilt

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Cunningham is a tall lean athlete coming out after his Junior year. Cunningham started both his Sophomore and Junior years, and finished his Senior year with a bang. Zach totaled 125 tackles (71 solo), 16.5 TFL’s, 3 passes defensed, 4 FR’s and 2 FF’s. That’s some serious production. Somewhat hard to judge, because he was everywhere making plays, or trying to on an underwhelming defense where he was the best. Still young, but 15 reps is not good enough, he needs some serious weight training, although he does have long arms (34 3’8”) What you’re getting is a young player that needs to be molded and strengthened, and could become a great NFL LB. Another intriguing possibility for the Dolphins at #22. NFL.com has Cunningham rated at 5.94
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Jarrad Davis LB 6’1” 238 Florida

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Davis did not perform at the NFL combine due to injury, but was able to do drills at the Florida Pro Day, and boy did he show up healthy! Davis ran a 4.56 40, 129” broad jump, and a really impressive 38.5” vertical, also putting up 23 reps in the BP. Davis was a 4 YR player starting both his Junior and Senior years, but his Senior season was cut short due to ankle injuries. Davis in his last full season (Junior) finished with 94 tackles (50 solo), 11 TFL’s, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT, 4 passes defensed, and 1 FF. Davis is known a solid, wrap up tackler. Can probably play any of the 4-3 LB spots, but I can see him in the middle. I dig this quote -“He’s good. I don’t care about some of those holes you are talking about. Kill him so maybe somebody will listen to you and he can fall to us. We’ll take him.” — AFC executive. (Chris Grier?) NFL.com has Davis rated at 5.98
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Tyus Bowser LB 6’3” 247 Houston

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Big, explosive LB. 4 year starter at Houston at both DE and LB. He missed 6 games due to fight with his teammate, had his orbital bone (eye socket) broken. Bowser finished his Senior year with 47 tackles (27 solo), 12 TFL’s, 8.5 sacks, 4 passes defensed and 1 FF. Another DE/LB tweener, may see his best upside as a LB, and that could be in a 3-4, or 4-3. The Dolphins have met with Bowser, so you can’t rule him out. Bowser ran a 4.65 40, 37.5” vertical, 127 “ broad jump and 6.75 cone. Big guy can move, and as a pass rusher, has an impressive Cam Wake like dip around the edge. Could be a dual threat player, a LB who can also move to DE to rush the passer. NFL.com has Bowser rated at 5.86
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T.J. Watt LB 6’4” 252 Wisconsin

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What’s in a name? Well, Watt is third Watt brother to enter into the NFL, following brothers J.J. (DE Texans) and Derek (FB Chargers). Is T.J. Watt that good, or is it the bloodlines that elevate Watt? You decide.

Watt is coming out as a Junior, and started all 14 games for Wisconsin. He finished his Junior year with 63 tackles (38 solo), 15.5 TFL’s, 11.5 sacks, 1 INT (for a TD), 4 passes defensed, 2FF’s and 1 FR. The guy certainly was productive, but again, where does he fit? Watt ran 4.69 40, 21 reps, 37” vertical, 128” broad jump, and a nice 6.79 cone. No question, he’s athletic and can move. My guess is he’s best off as a 3-4 OLB, or a 4-3 DE, but we’ll see. NFL.com has Watt rated at 5.88
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Alex Anzalone LB 6’3” 241 Florida

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Big, athletic LB, who unfortunately can’t stay on the field. No career threatening injuries, just twice an injury to his shoulder, and once a broken arm, but in 4 years, Anzalone never finished a full season. His Senior season, Anzalone played 8 games and finished with 53 tackles (22 solo) 4 TFL’s, 3 sacks, 2 passes defensed, and 1 FR. Hard to really judge production when there is so much missing. Anzalone ran a 4.63 40, a nice 6.88 cone, a 4.25 20 YD shuttle and an impressive 11.71 60 YD shuttle, which all shows he has great burst and excellent change of direction skills. Because of his injury history, Anzalone will probably be agonizing until he’s finally called, maybe as late as day 3. Definitely potential, but can he realize it? NFL.com has Anzalone rated at 5.8
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Tim Williams LB 6’3” 244 Alabama

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Yep, another DE/LB tweener. Williams played all 4 years at Alabama, starting every game his Senior season. Another productive player, Williams finished with 31 tackles (22 solo), 16 TFL’s, 9 sacks, 2 passes defensed, 2 FF’s and 1 FR. Williams spends a fair amount of time in opponents backfield. Williams ran a 4.68 40, did not do the BP, and was otherwise unexceptional athletically at the combine. Another difficult projection as either a 3-4 OLB, 4-3 DE, or 4-3 SAM. My guess is his pass rushing skills will have him at 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DE, but we’ll have to wait and see. NFL.com has Williams rated 6.0
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Raekwon McMillan LB 6’2” 240 Ohio State

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McMillan will be coming out after his Junior year at Ohio St. McMillan was a 3 year starter at O.S., and finished his Senior year with 102 tackles (49 solo), 7 TFL’s, 2 sacks, 5 passes defensed, and 2 FF’s. Durable player who plays every game. Ran a 4.61 40, put up 23 reps, but was otherwise average at the combine. Pretty good instincts and decent coverage ability, just a little less athletic than some of the other prospects. NFL.com has McMillan rated at 5.55
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Anthony Walker Jr. LB 6’1” 238 Northwestern

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Walker will also be coming to the NFL after completing his Junior season. a 3 YR starter at LB, Walker finished his Junior season with 105 tackles (62 solo), 10 TFL’s, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 5 passes defensed, 2 FR’s and a whopping 4 FF’s. True MLB prospect, great teammate, and leader at Northwestern. Instinctive player who gets the job done. Walker ran a 4.65 40, put up 23 reps, and was basically average in every other drill. I really like this guy in the mid to later rounds, he’s a good football player. NFL.com has Walker rated at 5.53
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Duke Riley LB 6’0” 232 LSU

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4 YR player at LSU, Riley started 12 games as a Senior and totaled 93 tackles (40 solo), 9 TFL’s, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, and 1 FR. A little undersized, but a good athlete. Ran a 4.58 40, good 6.89 cone, and a quick 4.21 20 YD shuttle, along with 18 reps in the BP. His size will likely push him down on a lot of draft boards, but someone will be getting a good football player in the mid to later rounds. NFL.com has Riley rated at 5.5
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There are so many prospects, and so little time. I’m sure there will be a few I left out, such as Lou’s guy Ryan Anderson, and if you’re wondering, Peppers will be grouped with the safeties, which will be coming either next week, or the following week, I haven’t made up my mind on the order as of yet.  I may do CB’s first.

GO DOLPHINS!

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460 Responses to 2017 NFL Draft – Linebackers

  1. mf13ss says:

    Adam Beasley‏ @AdamHBeasley
    Despite other interest, Dolphins’ Thomas signs one-year RFA tender

    http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/nfl/miami-dolphins/article144978299.html

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