Top 10 2020 College LB Prospects (Updated 4/18/20)


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Isaiah Simmons

Ascending hybrid talent with rare length, speed and versatility to create mismatches for the offense, depending upon alignment. He has a bachelor’s at three positions (slot corner, safety, linebacker) but could earn a master’s degree in complex workload with a more focused and defined job description than “jack-of-all-trades.” He can handle zone or man coverage from a variety of spots on the field, which gives defensive coordinators a chance to disguise blitz packages and exotic post-snap looks. He’ll miss run fits and can be misdirected due to a lack of instincts near the line, but his playmaking range outweighs those concerns for now. His unique potential to spy and shrink the field against dual-threat quarterbacks could push him way up the draft board

 

Patrick Queen

While other Tigers received more attention, Queen has some of the most eye-opening tape of the bunch. He plays fast, physical and with impressive field confidence for a one-year starter. His ability to diagnose and flow are both very rapid, and he operates with excellent body control and balance to gobble up runners as an open-field tackler. His inexperience will show itself in taking on blocks and finding optimal pursuit angles, but that will get cleaned up in time. Queen is next up from LSU’s linebacker factory, possessing the same three-down ability to hunt, cover and tackle as those before him. He’s an early starter with a sky-high ceiling

 

Zack Baun

Ascending prospect whose explosive production on the field has begun to mirror his explosive athletic traits. Baun’s twitchy get-off and deep bend at the edge is nightmare fuel for Big Ten tackles and he’s still at the early stages of pass rush development. He is aggressive to flow downhill in run support, has sideline-to-sideline range and is fluid dropping into coverage. He’s strong but a little light as an edge-setter so teams will need to figure out how best to align him. Baun is a scheme-diverse linebacker with high-impact potential whose best days are ahead of him.

 

Kenneth Murray

Sleek, playmaking linebacker with chiseled frame and long arms. Murray’s game is predicated on speed with an ability to fly around from sideline to sideline rolling up tackles. While his twitchy burst allows him to make more plays than the average linebacker, he will overflow to ball-carriers at times. Recognition of play development and ability to take on blocks are both underdeveloped currently, but a move to weak-side linebacker would put him in position to minimize those concerns and maximize his playmaking talent. Murray has hit-or-miss qualities and is more splashy than consistent, but he’s immensely talented with the ability to imprint on games on all three downs

 

Malik Harrison

Long-legged, loose-hipped linebacker with desired combination of size, physicality and range to help ruin the running game for teams needing linebacker help. His constant downhill mode disrupts blocking schemes and brings impact tackles, but it can be used against him with play-action and misdirection. The instincts are just average but his physical traits even it out on most snaps. He has some coverage limitations but can pressure the pocket as a blitzer and has the athleticism to spy mobile quarterbacks. He’s big and tough with the potential to become a good starter inside or as a 4-3 strong-side linebacker

 

Logan Wilson

Ultra-productive three-year team captain with instincts and cover talent to find work as an every-down linebacker. His play recognition, burst and lateral agility help him play faster than his timed speed and his fundamentals as a tackler are as good as you’ll find in this draft. Wilson needs more consistency of approach at taking on blocks and it may take him a minute to adjust to NFL game speed. He should be a core special teams member early, but possesses the tangibles and intangibles to become a productive pro as an inside or SAM (strong-side) linebacker

 

Josh Uche

Balancing Uche’s skill set and athletic potential against his inexperience and lack of instincts makes him a challenging evaluation. He’s unlikely to find sustained success as a situational rusher, but it should be in play for a team to turn loose his rush instincts and agility inside the pocket as a blitzer. He plays with closing burst, can tackle and is smoother in coverage than expected, but the difference in becoming a pro linebacker instead of a short-term, hybrid athlete will depend largely upon improving his second-level instincts and finding an eclectic defensive mind to unlock his potential

 

Jordan Brooks

While his tackle production has been good in all four seasons, it’s hard not to come away from tape study feeling like his numbers should be even higher with his athletic traits and above-average instincts. Attacking blocks with better hand usage and greater physicality should allow him to eliminate some negative reps and become a more impactful player. He’s a potential future starter as an inside linebacker in even or odd fronts, but concerns with coverage duties could impact how teams see him as an every-down linebacker

 

Akeem Davis-Gaither

No matter his size, Davis-Gaither is a playmaker with a talent for slipping blocks and ending up near the football. Teams who hope to roll him into a hybrid role may find he’s a better pass rusher than cover man. He is comfortable and effective when playing downhill, but issues with inconsistent angles to the ball and missed tackles pop up when forced to play in space. Some teams will be uncomfortable with his size. However, he plays with instincts and toughness. He should find a home as a backup 4-3 weakside linebacker and productive member of special teams units

 

Davion Taylor

Traits-based linebacker project with rare speed and explosiveness who may need an extended developmental runway to counter his lack of experience and awareness. Religious beliefs prevented him from playing high school ball (other than a single game) and he is still in the early stages of learning and applying proper technique and fundamentals in all phases of the game. While his inexperience shows up plenty on tape, he has flashes that show off what he could be capable of in the future. Scouts say he’s very coachable and that he’s one of Mel Tucker’s (current CU head coach and former NFL coach) favorites. At best, he develops into a playmaking starter after two or three years. At worst, he should be a plus special teams talent fairly quickly

 

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