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2024 NFL Draft: Top 5 LBs highlight a disappointing class that is not without potential

With the 2024 NFL Draft approaching, let’s take a look at the rankings of each individual position. These are the five best linebackers.

[Nate Tice’s NFL Draft top 100 big board Top QBs Top RBs Top WRs Top TEs Top OL Top Edges Top IDL Top LBs Top CBs Top safeties]

It’s not a great linebacker crop this year, and the choice between Colson and Texas A&M’s Edgerrin Cooper depends a bit on which flavor you prefer. Colson is a smart player and a fine athlete, but can hold his own in coverage because of his play recognition skills. He has three-down potential and is a good tackler despite his lack of overwhelming size. Think of Colson as firm with a potentially low ceiling (although there is value in a true starting linebacker these days).

With college basketball done and MLB Opening Day in the rearview mirror, attention is on the rise for the NFL's big offseason event.  Let's make our pivot to the NFL Draft.  (Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

With college basketball done and MLB Opening Day in the rearview mirror, attention is on the rise for the NFL’s big offseason event. Let’s make our pivot to the NFL Draft. (Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

Table of Contents

2. Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

Cooper, on the other hand, is more of an athlete who plays the position. He has real length (34-inch arm length) and speed, but lacks ideal size (just 230 pounds) and his play recognition can be up and down. Cooper can get caught playing high or a step slow against the run, but his speed allows him to recover. Things will only get tougher at the next level, but Cooper has a strong athletic profile and a frame to grow into. Did I mention that off-ball linebackers are hard to find these days?

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Gray is a run-and-hit type linebacker, but in a weak league he offers as good a package as any in terms of size, length, athleticism and tackling ability. He will have to continue to improve his play recognition, but Gray has enough qualities to continue to develop into a starter.

Eichenberg was productive against the run and pass. He shows consistent recognition of attacking play. He’s also not a net negative in coverage, although he can be outmatched against top receiving tight ends and running backs.

5. Payton Wilson, North Carolina State

Wilson is a straight-laced athlete who has struggled with injuries throughout his college career. He has a leaner frame than most typical linebackers and chooses to slip under blockers rather than take them on consistently, but plays with exceptional effort and will make some nice plays chasing down ball carriers with his speed. His medical issues and lack of agility and strength prevent me from making him a higher player on my board.

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