Andrew Harbaugh |Aug 9th, 2019
Last year we had the battle of the Devin’s in Devin White and Devin Bush who were both top ten picks in the draft. This year we don’t have as many top-end names but we do have one guy that is even getting some Heisman hype.
Below is a recap and links to all the previous positions I have ranked so far.
- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Tight Ends
- Offensive Tackles
- Interior Offensive Linemen
- Defensive Linemen
- Edge Rushers
This linebacking class though will be subject to a lot of scrutiny once you get outside who the top guy is for many. For me, linebackers are being so closely graded together for me that this season, more than any other position, will be critical to see who separates themselves from the pack.
Now, keep in mind while reading to let me know what players I’m missing out on, what players I’m low on, and what players I’m too high on. The beauty of the NFL draft is everyone has an opinion and it is important every gets a chance to share how they feel on players.
Let’s get to know some names to watch this year, as I mentioned earlier I expect this top five to look completely different once the process starts.
1) Dylan Moses
Moses is the best Alabama linebacking prospect to come out of Alabama in the Nick Sagan Era. In past years we have had players like Mack Wilson, Reuben Foster, and Reggie Ragland but they have had skill issues or off the field issues. Closest comp coming out is C.J. Mosley which is pretty good company.
Moses can be a three-down linebacker who can also captain your defense for the next decade. He should be a top ten pick this coming year like White and Bush last year, he is a special type of player that doesn’t come around that often.
His ability to track the ball, tackle in groups or open field, and the command he shows of the defense in Alabama speaks volumes not just about Nick Saban and his staff but about him as a person being able to be coached up that way.
A true X-factor on defense, Isaiah Simmons has been listed by different analysts as a safety and a linebacker but in my eyes linebacker is where he should be most effective at the next level.
Simmons, on tape, shows smooth hips and transitions from run to pass defense. The transitions are seamless just are his instincts in anticipation of what the play is going to develop into. His biggest asset is just that, his instincts.
In the NFL I see him being in that Jamal Adams role where he is in the right defensive system and used to his fullest potential. I haven’t assigned a player to any teams so far in my rankings but Simmons just screams to me that he is a Bill Belichick guy.
School: Utah State
Utah State is going to be a much watch team for anyone evaluating prospects in the 2020 class. While many will be focusing on the biggest debate on draft Twitter in quarterback Jordan Love, I will be going gaga over David Woodward.
This kid is all motor and tenacity and there is such a presence in his game it makes up for his lack of physical traits. When he came to Utah State he was recruited as a safety and according to 24/7 Sports, he was ranked as the 3193rd overall recruit in 2016. He has added almost 40 pounds to his frame and based off a comparison of his freshmen to senior pictures it looks to be a solid amount of muscle.
This year if he can maintain the type of leadership he displayed last year along with growth in his instincts and frame we could be talking about a draft sleeper rising to the top on more boards than just mine.
4) Shaq Quarterman
School: Miami (FL)
I have dubbed Shaq Quarterman the greatest Shaq to grace South Beach in the past, that may have been a bit premature.
Coming into the season I had Quarterman as my top linebacking prospect but as you can see with him coming in at four in my rankings he has dropped a bit. He is a bit undersized compared to the others on the list but he plays with a physicality that if he can bottle it up and use it in spurts it will boost his stock.
Quarterman does track the ball carrier well and is decent in coverage but has shown that he can blitz and get in the backfield often. Depending on his testing speeds and actual measurements he could pop to outside backer and thrive at the next level.
5) Caleb Kelly
When I was gathering my watch list I knew I had to watch Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray who statistically a tackling machine. What I didn’t realize is that despite what I thought going into tape it turns out Caleb Kelly is my favorite Sooner on defense.
Murray has the impressive stats but Kelly creates something that you can’t find on a stat sheet or box score, chaos. He is constantly disrupting both the run and pass games, gets in the backfield, and pressuring the passer on blitzes.
In a conference with runners like Pooka Williams, Chuba Hubbard, and pounding quarterback Sam Ehlinger, Caleb Kelly is a fun player to scout and I look forward to seeing him this upcoming year grow more.
Questions and comments?
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