The 2017 draft class is one of the deepest in recent memory, and that stands true at the linebacker position as well. While the talent at the top isn’t as strong as other positions, there are a bunch of quality linebackers that you can find on day two, along with some that will trickle into day three.
Prior to the Senior Bowl, Reuben Foster stood strong as the consensus top LB in the class. After a tremendous showing from Haason Reddick in Mobile, he followed that up with an elite performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. Since then, Reddick has gotten himself up there in the conversation alongside Foster as the top LB in the class, and may have even taken that crown after Foster’s alleged failed drug test.
Even after the “failed drug test”, our draft writers came to a consensus that Foster remains the top LB in this class, followed by Reddick. Jarrad Davis and Zach Cunningham follow in line – both served as the leader of their respective defenses in the SEC. Tyus Bowser is a name to remember as he shoots to 5 on our rankings and has seen his skyrocket soar in the past couple of weeks.
Below we have compiled our consensus defensive line rankings between our Breaking Football draft team which includes the individual rank from each writer for each player. Let us know what you think in the comments below and follow the rest of our draft team on Twitter @MichaelJKist, @SteveDraft_ , @ZachHicks2.
Biggest Riser: Duke Riley (LSU)
Riley came into this draft season as an after thought to other LSU linebackers such as Kendall Beckwith and last years starter Deion Jones. After putting up very impressive combine numbers and showing good athleticism in the Senior Bowl, Riley’s stock has risen. Those athletic numbers combined with a weak ILB class could see Riley go as early as the second round.
Biggest Faller: Anthony Walker (Northwestern)
Anthony Walker Jr. entered the season with solid Day 2 projections on the back of a promising ’15 season. However, as Shane Alexander would say, development is not linear. Walker looked lost the majority of the time in ’16 and lost his gap responsibility on a number of big runs. His frustrating tape has knocked him down our board considerably.
Small School Sleeper: Dylan Cole (Missouri State)
If you value athleticism in your linebackers, Dylan Cole has to be your guy. At his Pro Day, Cole crushed it and displayed explosive numbers in every drill. Cole completed 32 reps in the bench press, posted a 39” vertical jump, was timed at 4.52 in the 40-yard dash and displayed agility in the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill. On film, he looks like a pro wrestler and runs all over the field to make plays. Had he been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indy, it’s safe to say he would be garnering a lot more hype with the draft less than a week away.
Risk Factor: Reuben Foster (Alabama)
Reuben Foster came into Alabama a little over weight which ultimately led to discomfort in his knees. Foster has since lost weight but has had multiple concussions and shoulder injuries during his time at Alabama. If you combine that with his shaky draft process, in which he couldn’t stay out of the news, you’re looking at a major risk if you choose to select Foster in the first round.
Breaking Football’s 2017 NFL Draft LB Rankings
|8||Raekwon McMillan||Ohio State||8||8||8||15|
|11||Elijah Lee||Kansas State||10||15||16||7|
|12||Tanner Vallejo||Boise State||16||7||11||14|
|18||Matt Milano||Boston College||11||21||19||21|