Let’s take a look at some of the best linebackers in this April’s NFL draft. Of course, some players’ stocks will rise or fall based on who drafts them, but it will help to get a quick “scouting report” on these players to see if they may be able to help your team (dynasty or otherwise) next year and in seasons to come.
Sergio Kindle (Texas): We’ll lead with one of my favorites, being a Longhorn fan and all. Kindle has all the tools: good size-speed ratios, an ability to get to the opposing QB and an uncanny ability to make big plays behind the line of scrimmage. His stats won’t jump off the page, and his measurables will probably look like a lot of linebackers out there, but his intangibles are there and it appears he’s gotten past his mistakes committed off the field in the past.
Sean Witherspoon (Missouri): Fellow Big-12’er Sean Witherspoon is one of the higher-regarded linebackers in this draft class. He has good size and should time well in the 40, helping him get sideline to sideline. He’s very aggressive, which some scouts feel is a negative. In the right system, the defensive coordinator should be able to corral his over-exuberance and utilize his natural talents. He’s topped 100 tackles in each of his three starting years (including a ridiculous 155 2 seasons ago) and should be a tackle machine in the NFL as well.
Rolando McClain (Alabama): I’m not saying he’s the next DeMeco Ryans (also a former Crimson Tider) but the similarities are definitely there. He’ll gobble up tackles in the NFL and should be a playmaker from day one, regardless of who drafts him. He should be one of the first IDPs taken, if not the first.
Brandon Spikes (Florida): Speaking of freaks, Spikes will keep up with the Florida tradition in terms of providing big-time LBs in the NFL. He might not have the fastest 40 time or get to the QB much, but he’s gonna be a playmaker in the NFL. He has led an impressive Gator defense for three years and NFL defensive coordinators will gush over his physical play and desire to make tackles.
Navarro Bowman (Penn State): Linebacker U keeps pumping out the solid linebacker choices, and Bowman may be flying a bit under the radar, as compared to his predecessors, but he has plenty of talent and will be an attractive dynasty option since he has all the tools. He may need to add some bulk, but he’ll be an effective NFL linebacker and fantasy option in 2-3 years.
Sean Lee (Penn State): Fellow Nittany Lion will also project well as a NFL linebacker and fantasy talent. He redshirted due to a knee injury but came back and had an effective senior season. He may come with a bit of risk but could pan out in dynasty formats.
Roddrick Muckelroy (Texas): Muckelroy has flown under the radar, in the shadow of guys like Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle, but “Muck” has led the Longhorns in tackles in each of the past two seasons and obviously has the pedigree coming from Austin. He might actually be a better long-term fantasy option than his Longhorn mate.
Daryl Washington (Texas Christian): TCU keeps bringing us “sleeper” LBs, and after David Hawthorne’s breakout season, no one should be sleeping on Washington. Like Hawthorne, he has his shortcomings but his intangibles, speed and coverage skills will get him drafted and will get him a chance to compete right away.
Joe Pawalek (Baylor): And to close the linebacker conversation, we’ll add a deep sleeper to the mix. Pawalek is a heady performer that totaled 422 tackles for Baylor, and will probably have to prove himself on special teams prior to getting a chance on defense. As a middle or late round dynasty pick, he could pan out as a gem.