The 2020 NFL Draft’s linebacker class was an interesting group, with elite athletes and positional hybrids stocking the highest of the draft board. How does the 2021 NFL Draft‘s inside linebacker crop examine? Right here’s an early take a look at the within linebackers chosen within the 2021 NFL Draft and the way they match with their respective groups.
Which inside linebackers have been drafted within the 2021 NFL Draft?
Let’s check out the within linebackers chosen within the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s price noting that inside and outdoors linebackers will be considerably interchangeable, relying on function definition and schematic match. If you happen to’re in search of a participant who isn’t listed right here, verify our exterior linebackers piece.
Nick Bolton, Missouri | Spherical 2, Decide 58 | Kansas Metropolis Chiefs
In 2020, the Chiefs drafted Willie Homosexual Jr. late in Spherical 2. They adopted an analogous technique within the 2021 NFL Draft, choosing Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton. Bolton was considered among the best inside linebackers within the class all through the offseason. Nevertheless, his considerably restricted bodily profile saved him from rising into the best tier.
Regardless, Bolton is an clever, instinctive linebacker who’s additionally dense, bodily, and has sufficient velocity and explosiveness to be a risk. He must be a top quality addition to the Chiefs’ second degree.
Pete Werner, Ohio State | Spherical 2, Decide 60 | New Orleans Saints
Other than Demario Davis, the Saints got here into the draft short-staffed at inside linebacker. In actual fact, most NFL mock drafts had New Orleans utilizing an early decide on the place. They did simply that by drafting Ohio State’s Pete Werner in Spherical 2.
Baron Browning acquired a lot of the hype as essentially the most athletic linebacker within the class, however his teammate Werner wasn’t far off. Werner examined with a Relative Athletic Rating of 9.52. He recorded a 4.62 40-yard sprint, a 39.5-inch vertical, and a 6.9 three-cone at 6-foot-3, 238 kilos. Werner owns a ton of upside, and he’ll additionally get to study from a participant with an analogous athletic profile in Davis.
Monty Rice, Georgia | Spherical 3, Decide 92 | Tennessee Titans
The 2021 NFL Draft’s inside linebacker class had a pretty big variety of size-speed athletes on the high. Due to this, smaller linebacker prospects, like Monty Rice, have been generally missed. However, the Titans didn’t neglect Rice on draft day.
Tennessee used a third-round decide on the Georgia product, and after the workforce declined Rashaan Evans’ fifth-year choice, Rice’s presence carries extra weight. The previous Bulldog solely stands round 6-foot, 238 kilos. But, he flashes sideline-to-sideline velocity, and his 4.58 40-yard sprint time confirmed his vary. Rice brings a high-floor projection to a Titans franchise aiming to remain in rivalry.
Ernest Jones, South Carolina | Spherical 3, Decide 103 | Los Angeles Rams
It was a little bit of a shock to see Ernest Jones go as excessive as he did. The Rams chosen Jones above different standout linebackers like Browning and former LSU star Jabril Cox. Regardless, Jones has some attraction, and it’s straightforward to see why Los Angeles was excessive on him.
His athletic profile is particularly intriguing. The previous Gamecock stands round 6-foot-1, 230 kilos, and possessses wonderful proportional size, 4.72 velocity, and a 38.5-inch vertical registered at his professional day. Consequently, he’s explosive and well-built. These are two traits that groups can construct off of on the NFL degree.
Derrick Barnes, Purdue | Spherical 4, Decide 113 | Detroit Lions
He by no means drew a lot consideration on offseason linebacker rankings, however Derrick Barnes might in the end be a steal for the Lions. He has a stellar athletic profile, with a 4.58 40-yard sprint, a 37-inch vertical leap, and 29 bench reps at 6-foot, 238 kilos.
Together with his explosiveness and density, Barnes is usually a pass-rushing risk on blitzing downs. Nevertheless, he tasks even higher into a standard linebacker function, and together with his high-character mentality, he’s a sound funding to make. Barnes can cease ball carriers of their tracks, and he additionally has the protection upside to match.
Inside linebackers chosen within the 2021 NFL Draft | Rounds 4-6
6) Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M | R4-P140 | Pittsburgh Steelers
7) Tony Fields II, West Virginia | R5-P153 | Cleveland Browns
8) Ok.J. Britt, Auburn | R5-P176 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9) Cameron McGrone, Michigan | R5-P177 | New England Patriots
10) Nick Niemann, Iowa | R6-P185 | Los Angeles Chargers
11) Isaiah McDuffie, Boston School | R6-P220 | Inexperienced Bay Packers
Inside this group, there are a number of intriguing names to control. Cameron McGrone is maybe essentially the most notable one. McGrone was seen as a borderline Spherical 3 decide all through the offseason. Nonetheless, over the draft weekend, he fell to the tail finish of Spherical 5. The Michigan product shall be getting into an opportunistic state of affairs in New England. Together with his athleticism and instincts within the field, he ought to be capable to problem for an eventual long-term function as an inside linebacker.
Past McGrone, there are a number of extra gamers to observe. Buddy Johnson is an distinctive athlete, with high-end bodily instruments to mould for Pittsburgh. The identical goes for Niemann, who joins the Chargers’ ILB unit.
McDuffie is an intriguing athlete as nicely, with a strong two-down profile as a run defender. And Tony Fields II, some of the productive school linebackers since 2017, can produce previous his draft place with eager consciousness and playmaking proactivity.
What number of inside linebackers have been drafted in 2021?
For this text, 11 inside linebackers have been chosen within the 2021 NFL Draft. But, this quantity could be very versatile, as many linebackers supply versatility between inside and outdoors roles. Moreover, schematic match performs a vital consider how a prospect is utilized. One participant could also be an out of doors linebacker on the WILL place in a single scheme and a part of an inside two-linebacker pairing in one other.
In actuality, how this linebacker draft class shall be judged sooner or later shall be primarily based on the linebacker group as an entire — inside and outdoors mixed.
Athletes like Penn State’s Micah Parsons, 3-4 OLB hybrid Zaven Collins, or Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, could also be judged on the identical airplane as Bolton, Werner, and Barnes. Their roles are totally different, however that’s how the linebacker place is within the fashionable NFL. It’s depending on the primary and third ranges of a protection. So long as coaches can discover items to finish the puzzle, it doesn’t essentially matter how they’re labeled.
Need 2022 NFL Draft prospect information? Need to do your individual mock draft?
Dive into PFN’s Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator and check your individual drafting acumen. Proceed to go to Professional Soccer Community for NFL information and in-depth evaluation. Additionally, you should definitely comply with us on Twitter (@PFN365) to remain within the loop on all issues school soccer and the NFL Draft panorama.