2018 NFL Draft Linebacker Rankings
The linebacker position has been revolutionized by converted safeties and athletic freaks coming into their own at the position. It is no longer a shocker to see linebackers moving faster than some defensive backs and dropping back into coverage with ease.
These linebacker rankings will outline the positive aspects each player has to offer. The 2017 draft produced a great crop of linebackers and this draft possesses the same potential as well.
1. Roquan Smith – Georgia
Smith proved to be the heart and soul of the Bulldogs’ defense. He is a rangy playmaker that displayed his fantastic awareness and instincts throughout the season. Many may feel that he is undersized but he plays with so much intensity and ferocity. Smith, the 2017 Dick Butkus award winner, has the potential to change the identity of an entire unit.
Projection: Top 10 Pick of the First Round
2. Tremaine Edmunds – Virginia Tech
Edmunds has the ability to play off the ball or on the edge, no matter what scheme he is in. He is versatile and has a massive frame of 6′-5″ and 250 pounds. Edmunds was able to post great numbers over the past two seasons and he still has room to get bigger and better.
Projection: Top 10 Pick to Mid First Round
3. Rashaan Evans – Alabama
Evans is one of the many productive linebackers that the Crimson Tide have produced. Evans took over as the leader of the unit after Reuben Foster‘s departure and produced at a high level throughout his senior season. He has a great combination of size, speed, and physicality; making him one of the most well-rounded linebackers in the draft.
Projection: Mid to Late First Round
4. Malik Jefferson – Texas
Jefferson is a raw player but he can wreak havoc when given the chance. It is uncommon to see a linebacker prospect with his type of size and speed combo. He still needs a lot of development but he can settle into a situational role during his rookie year to get some experience.
Projection: Late First Round to Early Second Round
5. Leighton Vander Esch – Boise State
Vander Esch started off as a walk-on at Boise State and received moderate playing time his first two years on the roster. He came into his own this past year and showed that he can make a big impact when given the chance. Vander Esch started at weak-side linebacker and won the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, capping off a collegiate career that many did not expect to happen. His run-stopping ability and motor will help him carve out a role in the NFL.
Projection: Early to Mid Second Round