By Danny Cox
The great thing about linebackers is that the overly talented ones are going to shore up your defense and become the leaders of the front seven. If one isn’t at the starting level, then they could switch in and out, but also contribute on special teams and all NFL squads need that.
For the 2016 NFL Draft, there are possibly going to be four linebackers going in the first round and many more throughout the final six rounds.
Myles Jack – UCLA
Not only is he going to probably be the first linebacker off the board, but he’s going to likely be one of the first five players off the board overall. After just three games in 2015, Jack was lost for the season due to a torn anterior meniscus, but he’s fully healed up up and looking better than ever.
Jack is still the most talented linebacker in the draft and if he gets past the Dallas Cowboys at number four, the Jacksonville Jaguars will snag him at five.
Noah Spence – Eastern Kentucky
Noah Spence is likely to drop down into the 20s of the first round, but he shouldn’t be on the board by the time it is over. In a 3-point stance or standing up, Spence has the ability and talent to get a quick jump on the ball. If he somehow makes it past the New York Jets at number 20, the Seattle Seahawks will likely take him at 26.
Leonard Floyd – Georgia
The Indianapolis Colts desperately need defensive help, and more so along the line than anywhere else. Still, Floyd has the size of a great outside linebacker and the Colts won’t let him get past them. Floyd is quick on his feet and has the ability to drop back in coverage or rush the passer as needed.
Deion Jones – LSU
At 6-foot-1 and just 227 pounds, many may not look at Jones going early in the draft and he probably won’t go until the fourth or fifth rounds. He has a lot of talent, though, and would make an excellent addition to any NFL team’s special teams squad. In 2015, Jones had double-digit tackles five times for the Tigers. It wouldn’t be surprising if the New Orleans Saints or Atlanta Falcons look at him later in the draft.
Reggie Ragland – Alabama
Another option that the Seahawks may look at with the 26th pick is Ragland, but the Green Bay Packers, at 27, are hoping he will slide down that board to them. He’s very versatile and an excellent middle linebacker with the leadership qualities that can guide any NFL defense. The run defense of the Packers, or any team that drafts Ragland, will immediately improve with him in the line-up.
Su’a Cravens – USC
Cravens is a very talented linebacker who is going to end up dropping into the second round, but any team that drafts him will be getting a true steal. Both the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers are going to be looking at him, but he’s a bit of an anomaly as he’s one that is more of a safety than linebacker. The thing is, he can still plug a hole and rush the passer like a linebacker so any team that drafts him will get a player they can plug in almost anywhere they wish on defense.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.