A Comprehensive look at LBs for the 2017 Draft

Welcome DBZ readers. I am doing a breakdown of prospects that will be available in the 2017 NFL Draft. We are now just 1 day away from the big dance and finding out who will be our new players this year. Today I’m going to breakdown some linebacker prospects that could interest Denver.

Anthony Walker

LB, Junior, Northwestern

Anthony Walker Jr. was a 3 year player at Northwestern and earned SI and AP All American in 2015 as well as Consensus First Team All Big Ten. In 2016 he was named team captain and was selected as a Second Team All-Big Ten. In his 3 seasons with Northwestern, Walker totaled 154 solo tackles, 122 assisted tackles, 38 for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 12 pass deflections and 8 forced fumbles.

Measurements

HT- 6’1″ WT- 238lbs

Arm Length- 30 3/8″ Hand Size- 9 1/2″

40 Yard- 4.65 secs

Bench- 23 reps

Vertical- 30.5″

Broad- 9’8″

3 Cone- 7.23 secs

Film

Positives

Walker possesses the size to be an NFL linebacker. He plays with great instincts and vision to track down the ball carrier. Walker has the speed to beat the ball carrier to the edge and make the stop. He is a good coverage LB that plays with balanced eyes in coverage going between his coverage and the quarterback’s eyes He is considered a team leader that works hard and does what he’s told.

Negatives

Walker’s biggest issue is once he gets latched onto by a blocker its hard for him to get off. He needs to play with more bend and pop when taking on a blocker. He plays to stiff, needs to loosen it up. He has struggled with missed tackles throughout his college career.

Wrap up

Walker is a downhill thumper type that lacks athleticism and quickness but can do what he needs. He needs to clean up the missed tackles but overall looks the part of a LB and should be a decent starter in the league.

Ben Gedeon

LB, Senior, Michigan

Ben Gedeon was a 4 year player for Michigan who played mostly special teams. He earned 2nd Team All Big Ten honors in his Senior year by media and 3rd team by coaches. In his 4 seasons with the Wolverines, Gedeon totaled 81 solo tackles, 83 assisted tackles, 20.5 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks.

Measurements

HT- 6’2″ WT- 244lbs

Arm Length- 32 5/8″ Hand Size- 10″

40 Yard- 4.75 secs

Bench- 27 reps

Vertical- 34.5″

Broad- 9’11”

3 Cone- 6.98 secs

Film

Positives

Gedeon was a special teams ace at Michigan and prides himself on special teams. He plays with square pads and is a very instinctive defender. He can find his way through the line and track down the ball carrier. He is good at jumping routes across the middle of the field when in position. He is able to disengage blocks and wrap up the ball carrier.

Negatives

Gedeon while he is able to jump routes is fairly average as a coverage linebacker mainly due to speed. He is an inconsistent tackler as he plays to downhill and will miss tackles. While he has the instincts he plays heavy footed which hurts his chances to make plays.

Wrap up

Gedeon will probably never see the field as a starter but more as a rotational linebacker. His niche is on special teams where he can easily be a teams special teams ace. He has good size and talent to make an NFL roster as a good back up.

Blair Brown

LB, Senior, Ohio

Blair Brown played 4 seasons at Ohio totaling 151 solo tackles, 115 assisted tackles, 25.5 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. He finished 3rd on the team in tackles in his final 2 seasons. He was a First Team All MAC player in 2016.

Measurements

HT- 5’11” WT- 238lbs

Arm Length- 31 1/4″ Hand Size- 9 3/8″

40 Yard- 4.65 secs

Vertical- 37″

Broad- 10’4″

3 Cone- 6.92 secs

Film

Positives

Brown plays downhill but can also drop back into coverage. He is a very efficient tackler that rarely misses, he isn’t hesitant to lay the lumber or shoot the gap. He plays very well sideline to sideline and keeping plays from breaking to the outside. Brown has very good strength that will help him at the next level.

Negatives

The biggest thing that stands out about Brown is his length. His 5’11” height and 31 1/4″ arms are a little short of what you want in a LB. He lacks play speed and change of direction that could be critical in him being a back up or a potential starter. When he gets engaged with a lineman he struggles to get off the block and make a play.

Wrap up

Brown is an instinctive, nose for the ball type of linebacker but his height and length will shy a few teams away from him. He has all the other traits you’d want in a linebacker and should be able to latch on to a roster and eventually get some playing time.

Tanner Vallejo

LB, Senior, Boise State

Tanner Vallejo played 4 seasons for the Boise State Broncos, while earning second team All Mountain West and MVP of the MWC Championship game. As a Junior he was an honorable mention All Conference selection. As a Senior, Vallejo battled through a wrist injury and still earned an honorable mention All Mountain West selection.

Measurements

HT- 6’1″ WT- 228lbs

Arm Length- 30 1/2″ Hand Size- 9 5/8″

40 Yard- 4.67 secs

Vertical- 33.5″

Broad- 10’1″

20 Yard- 4.39 secs

Film

Positives

Vallejo is an athletic linebacker who can drop back into zone coverage. He plays with good speed and range to make plays sideline to sideline. He has a nose for the ball and can sift through bodies to find the ball. He has ample toughness as he played most of his Senior though a severe wrist injury that eventually sidelined him.

Negatives

Vallejo might have trouble sticking onto a team due to his slim frame and short arms. He lacks the power and the overall strength needed to be a force on defense. Due to his size he struggles to get off blocks and is almost entirely taken out of the play once latched onto. His injury history might scare some teams into not wanting to draft him.

Wrap up

Vallejo fails to check the physical boxes that teams will want but his production at Boise State coupled with his coverage skills should be enough to get a day 3 look from teams. He might be best fit for a 4-3 outside linebacker or a 3rd down MLB in a 3-4 defense.

Jordan Evans

LB, Senior, Oklahoma

Jordan Evans was a 4 year player at Oklahoma starting his final 3 years and he earned 2nd team All Big 12 honors in 2015 and 2016. In his 4 seasons at Oklahoma, Evans totaled 164 solo tackles, 117 assisted tackles, 21 for a loss, 3.5 sacks, 5 interceptions, 2 pick sixes, and 4 forced fumbles including one returned for a touchdown.

Measurements

HT- 6’2″ WT- 233lbs

40 Yard- 4.51 secs

Vertical- 38.5″

Broad- 9’11”

Film

Positives

Evans was a running back that converted to a LB. He has great playing speed and athleticism that you want in a linebacker. He is a very good coverage linebacker that can cover in both man and zone coverage. Evans has all the traits to be a 3 down player in the NFL, playing sideline to sideline with good change of direction ability.

Negatives

Evans can be an inconsistent tackler at times taking poor angles and not finishing strong. He needs to play more physical and aggressive at the point of attack. May need to add some more to his frame for the NFL.

Wrap up

Evans has most of the traits needed to be a starting linebacker in the NFL except toughness and consistency. If he can improve on finishing tackles and holding up his part of the field he could eventually push for more playing time. He could make it early as a rotational player or a 3rd down linebacker and eventually evolve into a 3 down player.

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