The NFL draft is days away and part 5 of the NFL Draft Prospect Series focus on Linebackers. There are several first round candidates this year and decent talent for day 2 and 3.
Summary Of NFC North Needs
Green Bay could use a starting ILB, Chicago could use ILB depth. The Lions added a bunch of LBs in free agency (Collins, Ragland) and have Davis/Tavai and Christian Jones. They are always looking for upgrades so day 2 is a possibility or they could fall in-love with the versatile difference-maker Simmons. The Vikings are set with Anthony Barr and Erik Kendricks but could use an upgrade on the weak-side over Ben Gedeon and Eric Wilson.
Isaiah Simmons is in a class of his own. The Clemson Tiger ran a 40 in the 4.3s, was ultra-productive at Clemson and is versatile AF. Simmons could play ILB, OLB, rush OLB, slot CB, safety and maybe even outside CB. He is that talented. Simmons at 6’4 230 pounds has room to grow. Nobody compares to Simmons ever and he should go in the top 6 in this draft. He is a difference maker.
Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma) and Patrick Queen (LSU) are the other two true linebackers that could go in Round 1.
Murray is 6’2 234 pounds with great range. He is strong, can shed blocks well and tackles well. Sometimes he runs himself out of plays but can work on his decision making with NFL coaches. He should be able to cover tight ends well and is a lock for a Round 1 pick.
Patrick Queen is 6’1 227 pounds from LSU. Queen is rangy with good tackling ability as well. He must get a little stronger to shed blocks but is a good tackler. He will be a solid starter in the league for a long time. Queen is a good late day 1 pick.
Malik Harrison (Ohio State), Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian State), Logan Wilson (Wyoming), Willie Gaye (Miss State), Troy Dye (Oregon) are the day 2 and early day 3 prospects.
Harrison is a big physical thumper but needs work on his coverage. He might only be a two down LB.
Davis-Gaither is quick with good range but is a little small for a LB. He might be more of a hybrid big safety.
Wilson is an instinctive LB and a solid tackler. He struggles in coverage so should be another two down LB with limitations.
This is a solid class but there is really only one difference maker (Simmons) and 3 total with first round talent. Outside rush LBs will be covered with the defensive line/pass rushers in part 6. Green Bay could take Murray or Queen if they fall. Vikings and Bears will search on day 2 and day 3 for depth. Lions maybe on day 2 or 3 could take a LB unless they love Simmons and lose out on Chase Young and Jeff Okudah after a trade. The Lions have bigger needs though.