NFL Draft: Analyzing 2018’s Top LBs

In the last article, we mentioned the defensive linemen. The part of the defense that is directly connected to the defensive line are the LBs. Other than interior defensive linemen, the rest of the front 7 is pretty interchangeable. Today, we’ll be going over the top LBs. Keeping in mind that you may see some of these guys line up on the line.  So, without any further delay, let’s talk about the top 10 LBs that will be in the 2018 NFL Draft. (Players on this list are in order of my rankings)

Roquan Smith – 4-3 OLB – Georgia

Smith is lightning in a bottle. He flies to the ball and is super aggressive. Not only can he be a missile on defense, he is also good in coverage. I don’t worry about the size because he’s good at evading blockers. There really isn’t much that you can see wrong with Smith. He can also play ILB, but I think he will make his money on the outside.

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Rashaan Evans – 3-4 ILB – Alabama

Evans, just like Smith, is versatile enough to play inside and outside, but I think Evans will be put at ILB. He also is always around the ball. Not as good in coverage, but he would be really good as a blitzing ILB. He’s still a little green inside, but he’s learning fast and has good instincts. Alabama has cranked out the LBs lately.

Harold Landry – 3-4 OLB – Boston College

Landry may be drafted as a 3-4 Edge, but he is more comfortable as a DE. He is very similar to Vic Beasley, who racked up 15+ sacks at DE 2 years ago, but dropped to 5.5 sacks as an OLB. The scheme of the team that drafts him could be very important. He’s a pass rusher, not a coverage guy.

Leighton Vander Esch – 3-4 ILB – Boise State

Probably the most ascending LB in the draft is Vander Esch. He can do a little of everything. He only started for 1 year, so that’s probably the biggest risk. However, he was so successful in that 1 year as a starter, the projection for how good he can be with added experience is through the roof.

Tremaine Edmunds – 3-4 ILB – Virginia Tech

Most people have Edmunds going in the top 10 picks. I am not as high on him and think he’s more of an athlete than a natural football player. He is the best athlete in this draft at LB, but he has a larger risk of being a bust than the other top 5 LB.

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Lorenzo Carter – 3-4 OLB – Georgia

Carter came to college as a high-regarded recruit. He stalled a bit early, but flourished last year and looked comfortable. He looks to be similar to be Evans, except he has a few more pass rushing moves. Teams will likely look at him as an Edge.

Josh Sweat – 3-4 OLB – Florida State

I’m not completely sold on Sweat. However, he has attributes you can’t teach. His speed and length are perfect to be a top-tier pass rusher, but he needs some development. There is a question about his motor and his medicals. Nonetheless, if everything checks out and he’s motivated, he has top 20, talent.

Arden Key – 3-4 OLB – LSU

Arden Key is the most talented 3-4 Edge LB in this draft. However, his story isn’t even close to ending with that statement. He has big off the field issues that he has refused to discuss, that includes leaving the team. Also, he let his weight blow up to about 270 pounds at one point. He has the bigger range, of how high or low he can go in the draft, than anyone.

Kemoko Turay – 3-4 OLB – Rutgers

Turay wins with heart and drive. He has a nonstop motor and he leads by example. Despite that, he is less skilled than the rest of the top-tier LBs. He also id a bit green and he hasn’t played that much football in his life. To me, he’s a 3rd round pick with upside.

Malik Jefferson – 4-3 OLB – Texas

Jefferson is a pure athlete. The big problem is he plays off his athleticism and not off instincts. Because of this, he is a step slow and at times can be just out of position. His combine will see him go in round 3, but he’s more of a day 3 player.

This has been the money position in the NFL on defense over the past few years. As more teams go to 3-4 defenses, the LB positions have become the main position that teams need to make that defense effective. There is only 1 position left in the positional rankings, and that’s the defensive backs. After that, the NFL draft will be a week away and the new stars of the league will be upon us. This is the best time to be a football fan.

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