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2017 NFL Draft Positional Superlatives: Linebackers

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

Scouting Notes

2017 NFL Draft Positional Superlatives: Linebackers

Next up on my positional superlatives series are linebackers which features four prospects ranked among my top 50 prospects and 9 with day one or day two grades. The class offers a group of balanced defenders who are adept against the run and pass with good range. It’s not a bad year to need a linebacker.

For complete analysis on the entire 2017 NFL Draft class, Joe Marino’s 2017 NFL Draft Scouting Portfolio is NOW AVAILABLE. The Portfolio consists of 300 prospect reports and is available with an NDT Scouting Premium Subscription.

Best Player:  Reuben Foster, Alabama

Foster is a plug and play middle linebacker that can function in any scheme. Immediately he will bring a level of physicality and aggressive play that few other linebackers have. He processes plays quickly and flies to the football with assertion. Foster has considerable range and can function laterally to the sideline.

A three-down player, Foster is sound in zone coverage with excellent click and close ability. A high-urgency player, Foster has the upside to become the face of an NFL defense and be a true field general as an inside linebacker.

Best Resume:  Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State

My resume grades factor the injury history, off-field concerns and accolades that a player accumulates in their collegiate career and McMillan scored the best. Appearing in 40 games and starting 26, McMillan had no notable injury concerns and was clean off the field. His notable accolades include:

  • 2016-1st Team All-Big 10, 2nd Team All-American, Lott and Butkus Award Semifinalist. 
  • 2015-2nd Team All-Big 10, Butkus Award Finalist.

Best Size:  Tyus Bowser, Houston

My size metric weighs all official measurements against positional averages over the last five years and Bowser scored the best. He checks in at 6025, 247 pounds with 33 ¼” arms and 10 ⅛” hands.

Best Athlete:  Haason Reddick, Temple

October 21, 2016: Temple Owls defensive lineman Haason Reddick (7) rushes the quarterback during a NCAA Football game between the University of South Florida Bulls and the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

My athleticism metric weighs all athletic testing results against positional averages over the last five years and Reddick leads the pack.

  • 40-Yard Dash:  4.52
  • 10-Yard Split:  1.59
  • Bench Press:  24
  • Vertical Jump:  36 ½”
  • Broad Jump:  11’1’’
  • 3-Cone:  7.01
  • Short-Shuttle:  4.37

Best Production:  Calvin Munson, San Diego State

My production metric factors total games started and consistency in statistical output and Munson scored the highest. In 52 games (41 starts) Munson tallied 301 tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, 7 interceptions, 12 passes defended and 4 forced fumbles.

Best Coverage:  Reuben Foster, Alabama

Foster is an excellent hook/curl and flat defender in coverage. He anticipates backs and tight ends well in zone and plays with great awareness. He has an outstanding ability to click and close on the football.

Best Tackler:  Reuben Foster, Alabama

Foster is a physical tackler with tremendous contact power. He explodes through the ball carrier and does well to wrap up with good technique and bring his feet with him.

Best  Range:  Haason Reddick, Temple

Reddick has an explosive ability to drive off his back foot and fly to the football. He can work towards the sideline and make an impact to all parts of the field. He covers ground quickly with smooth movement skills to close down distances.

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Joe Marino

Marino began his career as the Assistant Editor for USA Today Digital Properties Draft Sites Network in 2011. A member of the FWAA, Marino writes about the NFL, College Football and NFL Draft for FanRag Sports.

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