My 2018 NFL Draft Linebacker Rankings

I  always have to mention this, these are not projections of where these players will go, rather where I personally think they should go. Unlike my prospect breakdowns, these round grades DO take into account positional importance, so you may notice Josh Allen is graded as 1st to 2nd round prospect rather than a 2nd to 3rd round grade.

#1 – Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

I love this linebacker class a lot, and that starts at the top, as Tremaine Edmunds is my overall number one rated defensive player on my pure talent board, which doesn’t take into account positional importance. Edmunds is only 19 years old and he already has the rare combination of size and speed to become a matchup nightmare for the offense.

Grade: Round 1

#2 – Roquan Smith, Georgia

I love Roquan Smith too. His size (6’1″, 236 pounds) could raise some questions, but I can look past that because of his potential to become a three down starter because of his ability to play in man to man coverage, blitz the quarterback, or seal the edge in run defense.

Grade: Round 1

#3 – Rashaan Evans, Alabama

Evans is another guy that I have in the top 15 on my true talent board. He has great size and speed, and could play at any number of positions at the NFL level, making him a fit for almost any team. My only concern is that he does sometimes struggle to shed blocks.

Grade: Round 1

#4 – Fred Warner, BYU

This is probably the guy I am on the biggest island with in this entire draft. Most see Warner as a third or fourth round talent, but I pulled out the big number one for him, so let me tell you why. He had a great senior bowl week, which immediately made me take note of him, and when you watch his tape, he is one of the most versatile guys in the draft. Warner can get to the quarterback, but he can also drop back in coverage and is great at jumping the passing lane. He is a reliable tackler that delivers big hits consistently. He isn’t quite there yet, but he has a tremendous upside and while his frame is a little thin right now, with some added weight he could be one of the best in the class.

Grade: Round 1

#5 – Malik Jefferson, Texas

Jefferson is one of the best athletes in this group, and he could play either as a blitzing linebacker in a 3-4 or an off-ball in a 4-3. Various injuries led to me dropping him to an early day two grade.

Grade: Round 2

#6 – Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Vander Esch has nice size and is decent in coverage, but I never trust these players that explode onto the scene for one year and are instantly considered first round talent. Vander Esch also often struggles to shed blocks.

Grade: Round 3

#7 – Darius Leonard, South Carolina State

Leonard has sideline to sideline speed who can make plays in the passing game and get to the edge in run defense. His size (6’2″, 229 pounds) could be a concern, and he does often get hung on blocks.

Grade: Round 3

#8 – Jerome Baker, Ohio State

Baker is a great coverage linebacker who will be excellent in the passing game. He is very rangy and has good ball skills, but he is undersized and can be shut down by good blocking.

Grade: Round 3

#9 – Shaquem Griffin, UCF

Griffin has nice versatility and could play in at any number of linebacker roles or as an edge rushers. His toughness and work ethic are some of the best in the class, and he delivers big hits to the quarterback

Grade: Round 3

#10 – Genard Avery, Memphis

Avery would be another one of my sleepers to watch out for. He played all four years at Memphis, and is great as a pass rusher because of his size and athleticism, but he does struggle in coverage.

Grade: Round 3

#11 – Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama

Grade: Round 4

#12 – Mike McCray, Michigan

Grade: Round 4

#13 – Jack Cichy, Wisconsin

Grade: Round 4

#14 – Skai Moore, South Carolina

Grade: Round 5

#15 – Josey Jewell, Iowa

Grade: Round 5

#16 – Tegray Scales, Indiana

Grade: Round 5

#17 – Micah Kiser, Virginia

Grade: Round 5

#18 – Arius Moore, North Carolina State

Grade: Round 6

#19 – Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State

Grade: Round 6

#20 – Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson

Grade: Round 6-7

#21 – Keishawn Bierria, Washington

Grade: Round 6-7

#22 – Matthew Thomas, Florida State

Grade: Round 7

Leave a Reply