Next up in our positional draft rankings are the LBs. Not included are any prospects who are considered outside LBs, but will likely be edge rushers at the next level. So let’s get down to it.
1. Isaiah Simmons; Clemson
Unlike anyone we have ever seen as a LB prospect. Simmons is a bonafide freak of nature; a LB with safety skills and athleticism as good as anyone on the field at any given time. He will be the first LB drafted in the 2020 NFL Draft and an immediate starter for whomever selects him.
2. Patrick Queen; LSU
Not a surprise that LSU has produced yet another top-notch LB prospect after Devin White starred with the Bucs as a rookie in 2019. While undersized, Queen features premier coverage ability and is not afraid to put his nose on this ball in the run game, but could still improve as a run defender. His frame could stand to grow a bit at the next level and another huge plus is that he he won’t turn 21 until just before the start of this season.
3. Kenneth Murray; Oklahoma
It was tough for me putting Murray behind Queen. While I believe his ceiling is a bit lower than Queen’s, he is a safer prospect. Murray’s instincts are fantastic and his sideline to sideline ability is a joy to watch. Once he identifies the play, he is like a missile to the ball. He also displays fantastic coverage ability, an essential trait to the LB position in today’s NFL.
4. Zack Baun; Wisconsin
An edge rusher in Madison, due to his limited size, Baun is likely best suited as an off-ball LB who can get after the passer occasionally at the next level. Despite being undersized for an edge-rusher, he features what figures to be one of the better athletic profiles for a LB in this class.
5. Troy Dye; Oregon
Another versatile 3-down LB, Dye can likely come in and start immediately in a 4-3 scheme. At his current size, he may be scheme limited, however his athleticism and pass-rush ability should have him off the board by the end of day 2.
6. Akeem Davis-Gaither; Appalachian State
If Queen, Baun, and Dye are undersized, then Davis-Gaither is a micro-linebacker at less than 225 pounds. His best fit at the level is will-linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. He features excellent coverage ability, a knack for designed blitzes, and is not afraid to get his nose dirty in the run game.
7. Malik Harrison; Ohio State
The Ohio State product is your prototypical LB. His instincts are not where you would like them to be, but it may be that he relies too much on his athleticism to make plays. With a bit of NFL coaching, Harrison should become a starter in year one as a sam-linebacker in a 4-3 or an ILB in 3-4.
8. Willie Gay Jr.; Mississippi State
If Isaiah Simmons was not in this class, Gay Jr. would have owned the uber-athletic LB crown for the 2020 Draft. On the field he displays a high energy and sometimes reckless style of play. He can blitz well and has shown nice ability to break up passes in zone coverage. If not for his off-field red flags, he’d be a lock to be draft in the top three rounds.
9. Jordyn Brooks; Texas Tech
As a run-defender, Brooks’ production is off the charts. While his run stopping ability pops on tape, his coverage could use some work. He looks uncomfortable in coverage and until he gets that facet of his game cleaned up he will likely be a two-down player.
10. Logan Wilson; Wyoming
On and off the field, Wilson was a team leader and three year captain while at Wyoming. He has the ability in both coverage and against the run to be a three-down LB in the NFL, but he may take some time to acclimate to opposing competition after starring at Wyoming. His instincts are among the best in this LB class.
11. Joe Bachie Jr.; Michigan State
12. Davion Taylor; Colorado
13. Markus Bailey; Purdue
14. Evan Weaver; Cal
15. David Woodward; Utah State
16. Kamal Martin; Minnesota
17. Cam Brown; Penn State
18. Justin Strnad; Wake Forest
19. Jacob Phillips: LSU
20. Shaquille Quarterman; Miami