2022 NFL Combine Scouting Grade Preview: Linebackers (non-Edge, ILB/OLB)

 

Ahead of the Combine, we’re doing a preview scouting of all the prospects we haven’t previewed at the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine. We’ll grade the fresh Combine prospects and integrate them with our Senior Bowl and East-West prospects/grades into one ‘big board’, ranked with all the players invited to Indy for 2022.

After the Combine, we’ll start doing the actual numeric grades and doing the deeper dive reports on the top prospects and prospects of interest from all levels).

 

 

ILB Chad Muma, Wyoming (Post-SB scouting grade: B+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B

Estimate = 6’2”/237

SB Measurements: 6’2.3”/241, 10.0” hands, 32.4” arms

Post-SB Note: One of the best players at the Senior Bowl week. He’s going to be a major steal in the 2nd-3rd-round. He was a day three draft guy until he showed off at the Senior Bowl week and game. An excellent, pure middle linebacker.     

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Pre-SB Note: A really good-looking, classical middle linebacker. Great movement skills and instincts playing the run forward or dropping back to cover the pass. Has very good closing speed on tackles and is a nice form tackler. He may be 5+ pounds of muscle away from being a very good starting middle linebacker in the NFL quickly.

NFL Comp? = A combo of NFL (not college) Joe Schobert and Nick Vigil.

 

 

ILB Damone Clark, LSU (Pre-Combine scouting grade: B+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’2”/240

Pre-Combine Notes = Really quick ILB/OLB. Great speed/acceleration towards the backfield, ball carriers, and in coverage. He’s more athlete than instinctive LB right now…but he can grow at the next level. You can’t teach his speed and movement ability. 135 tackles, 15.0 TFLs in 12 games last year.

NFL Comp? = Bigger, better Patrick Queen

 

 

ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah (Post-SB scouting grade: B+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B+

Estimate = 6’3”/235

SB Measurements: declined to attend

Post-SB Note: Declined to attend, which was smart. He already has good heat in the draft so there wasn’t much upside for him to go.     

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Pre-SB Note: Just a solid all-around, classic ILB…plays the run well, OK against the pass, is smart and aggressive manning the middle and can nose his way into the backfield with good instincts for reading plays. He’s very strong…moves much bigger blockers backwards. He has the size, strength, instincts and look of a classic middle linebacker for this era. He’s going to be a 1st-round pick, instant NFL starter most likely.

NFL Comp? = Taller Shaq Thompson.

 

 

OLB Brandon Smith, Penn State (Pre-Combine scouting grade: B/B+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’3”/235

Pre-Combine Notes = Big fan. Excellent preview tape. This guy can move – great acceleration forward and great backpedal into coverage. Really impressed. A legit NFL starter prospect. 81 tackles, 9.0 TFLs, 5 PDs in 12 games in 2021.

 A natural 4-3 OLB but could be a legit ILB in  a 3-4.

NFL Comp? = Jordyn Brooks

 

 

ILB Leo Chenal, Wisconsin (Pre-Combine scouting grade: B-/B)

Measurable Estimate = 6’2”/250

Pre-Combine Notes = I’m a fan. Great movement skills. Classic interior linebacker who can drop into coverage nicely or rush the backfield adeptly. Impressed with his game. 115 tackles, 18.5 TFLs and 8.0 sacks last season.

NFL Comp? = Blake Martinez

 

 

OLB/ILB Christian Harris, Alabama (Pre-Combine scouting grade: B/B+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’1”/230

Pre-Combine Notes = A very nice prospect here – very athletic and sturdy…a good tackler, with higher end speed/agility to get to the ball carriers. Drops into coverage very well and can rush the backfield or just straight up play the run. Very impressed here. Just a good all-around defender.

NFL Comp? = Lavonte David

 

 

OLB Sterling Weatherford, Miami, Ohio (Post-SB scouting grade: B-)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B-/C+

Estimate = 6’3”/225

SB Measurements: 6’3.5”/230, 8.6” hands, 31.8” arms

Post-SB Note: One of my favorite football players of the week. This guy is just always around the ball/in the right place at the right time. If/when he adds 5+ pounds of muscle, he could really be an impact/starter in the NFL.     

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Pre-SB Note: Hard hitting safety in college but played DB like a linebacker and looks like he’s going to try to be labeled as a linebacker, likely a hybrid backer. He offers versatility. He’s a hard-nosed player and great form tackler. He could even be bulked up to a middle linebacker for the NFL.

NFL Comp? = Drue Tranquill…a college SAF primarily but has been a linebacker for the NFL.

 

 

OLB Aaron Hansford, Texas A&M (Post-SB scouting grade: B-/C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B-/C+

Estimate = 6’3”/240

SB Measurements: 6’2.1”/239, 10.4” hands, 32.2” arms

Post-SB Note: He flashed a bit using his speed/movement skills during the practice week. He looks like a nice OLB prospect…but needs work at the position. His better grades, upside is his athleticism is that of a 1st-rounder if he had more experience/technical skills as an OLB (he’s a former WR turned edge turning OLB for the NFL).

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Pre-SB Note: I’m a fan. Have been since previewing him some in 2021. A former WR turned linebacker. He’s developed over three years from random/athletic edge chaser to more knowledgeable OLB to playing a lot of interior linebacker in 2021. He’s one of the better sleeper names for NFL teams in 2021, I think.

NFL Comp? = Tyrus Bowser if he tried to play more edge/LB mix. Fred Warner if he hits his full upside?

 

 

ILB Brian Asamoah, Oklahoma (Post-SB scouting grade: C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B-/C+

Estimate = 6’1”/230

SB Measurements: 6’0.0”/222, 9.7” hands, 33.4” arms

Post-SB Note: He’s a favorite of the media, but I continue to see a solid linebacker here…nothing ultra-special. Like, Chad Muma made me jump out of my chair. Asamoah made me sit on my Asamoah watching his preview tape and observing him in my previews. He came in much smaller than they/he tried to bill himself…so that isn’t helping his linebacker rankings. He’s been starting to slide since the Senior Bowl week.

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Pre-SB Note: A good-looking athlete for the NFL…well-built/muscular, moves well, good tackler, nice acceleration. A legit NFL linebacker. How good he is/his grade/rank will be determined by his NFL Combine numbers. He’s a ‘B’ or ‘C’ not an ‘A’ or ‘D’.

NFL Comp? = Has a little Roquan Smith to him, I think.

 

 

OLB D’Marco Jackson, Appalachian St. (Post-SB scouting grade: C+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B/C

Estimate = 6’1”/230

SB Measurements: 6’0.1”/235, 9.2” hands, 32.2” arms

Post-SB Note: I expected more. He was fine during the Senior Bowl week, but he looks a little small and didn’t grab my attention in the game itself. All I noticed was – he is fine/solid.     

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Pre-SB Note: An interesting, raw prospect with upside. Moves like lightning closing in on the backfield (as a middle linebacker in college) – 20.0 TFLs is pretty hot (#5 in the NCAA in 2021). He also had 6.0 sacks and 5 PDs. Really nice movement skills to get to things.

On the other hand, he often plays lazy when he’s not blasting off to the backfield. One play, he’ll make a ‘wow’ movement. The next play, he’s jogging around watching the play go away from him…no urgency to get involved.

There’s a possible ‘B’ prospect hiding here, but there’s also some signs of a ‘D’ guy too.

NFL Comp? = Has some Darius Leonard look to him, but not as good.

 

 

ILB Mike Rose, Iowa State (Post-SB scouting grade: C)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C+

Estimate = 6’3”/240

SB Measurements: Did not attend, injury

Post-SB Note: Did not attend, injury    

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Pre-SB Note: A really good football player. A future at middle linebacker potentially, if he can add 10 pounds of muscle. He could get buried as a special teamer, or breakout to a legit starter-level interior LB. Good feet. Smart player. Good in coverage. Sound tackler. Just needs more size.

NFL Comp? = Drue Tranquill, Nick Vigil

 

 

OLB Channing Tindall, Georgia (Post-SB scouting grade: C)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D+

Estimate = 6’2”/230

SB Measurements: 6’1.5”/223, 10.3” hands, 32.4” arms

Post-SB Note: He showed a lot of speed this week…like he stood out among the traditional linebacker group as the speedster getting to ball carriers in the open field – really showed up on some of his special team’s work. He may run a 40-time at the Combine that really lights up his prospect rankings in the mainstream.     

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Pre-SB Note: Georgia seemed like they had a never-ending supply of generic/athletic linebackers, and Tindall was one of them…one of the lesser ones. He has an NFL body and movement ability, but that seems to be about it…he wasn’t a high-quality producer, more just a joker/depth linebacker. He seems forgettable but could grind his way to an NFL roster and onto special teams.

NFL Comp? = Zaire Franklin

 

 

OLB Troy Anderson, Montana State (Post-SB scouting grade: C/C-)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C+/C

Estimate = 6’3”/230

SB Measurements: 6’3.2”/242, 9.4” hands, 32.2” arms

Post-SB Note: Accounted for himself well this week. He was very smart, capable…not over his head for an FCSer. I was not overwhelmed, just noted all week he looked ‘fine’/solid.      

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Pre-SB Note: OK, buckle up for this one… The 2021 FCS Defensive Player of the Year, but also the 2018 1st-team Big Sky QB. Yes…he’s a linebacker/quarterback. He’s a linebacker prospect for the Senior Bowl/NFL more than anything on offense. It’s all ‘cool’ except, I’m not sure he’s NFL good enough as a quarterback or linebacker. He might make it as a linebacker – a good football, an all-academic player. If he adds some bulk, perhaps he finds his way to a starting role in the NFL someday.

NFL Comp? = Nick Vigil…which I’ve used 3-4x for the LB comp group -- but Vigil was an athletic linebacker who was also a legit, very good college RB. I’m seeing more LB prospects that have RB backgrounds…which is smart because the NFL snubs RBs, by and large, in pay at the next level. You’d rather be a good linebacker than a good RB.

 

 

OLB Quay Walker, Georgia (Post-SB scouting grade: C-)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C-

Estimate = 6’3”/235

SB Measurements: Ultimately chose to skip the event

Post-SB Note: Ultimately chose to skip the event

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Pre-SB Note: Good looking athlete. Has ‘the look’ of a good 4-3 OLB. Moves like an NFL linebacker. However, he had disappointing production in college. Played some ILB and OLB and some edge. Is a jack of all trades, master of none good athlete. Feels like an NFL player, but more rotational and special teams guy, but has upside for more on athleticism displayed. Senior Bowl week will be a good test.

NFL Comp? = Davion Taylor

 

 

OLB Baylon Spector, Clemson (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: C-)

Estimate = 6'2”/230

Good size, decent athlete. He drops into coverage a lot thus the lower tackle numbers. He does a good job of staying disciplined and keeping his eyes on the QB, even baiting him into poor throws at times. As a run defender he does a pretty good job sifting through traffic to get the ball carrier. Not a high impact player but he can play at the next level in some capacity.

NFL Comp? = TJ Edwards

 

 

ILB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati (Post-SB scouting grade: C-/D+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C

Estimate = 6’2”/240

SB Measurements: 6’4.0”/252, 9.6” hands, 32.6” arms

Post-SB Note: Not bad, just didn’t stick out and too many other LBs looked better. He’s not doomed, just not a ‘wow’ prospect.    

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Pre-SB Note: A jack of all trades OLB…has the heart of an ILB but moves around well to be a 4-3 OLB. He’s decent in pass coverage and rushes the pass solidly. He definitely offers something to the NFL. Not sure that it is ‘high impact’ play that he offers, but maybe. He’s got some promise/hope.

NFL Comp? = Kenny Young

 

 

ILB Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin (Pre-Combine scouting grade: C-/D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’1”/240

Pre-Combine Notes = Solid enough college middle linebacker. Willing hitter. Decent speed/pursuit. Smart player. Maybe more ‘good college player’ than impact NFL prospect. I see some hope here, but wanna see the Combine first to see where he’s at athleticism-wise.

NFL Comp? = Lesser Blake Cashman.

 

 

ILB Isaiah Graham-Mobley, Boston College (Pre-Combine scouting grade: C-/D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’1”/235

Pre-Combine Notes = Good-looking athlete at middle linebacker. A near perfect frame and nice movement skills. He looks like a legit starting NFL ILB, at a glance. On tape he gives a good effort, but he doesn’t really rack up a ton of tackles. His look is better than his results – but the potential really jumps off the computer screen for me.

NFL Comp? = Kevin Pierre-Louis

 

 

ILB Nakobe Dean, Georgia (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D+)

Measurable Estimate = 5’11”/230

Pre-Combine Notes = Has the look of a classic ILB…shorter, fairly thick, decent movement skills – but he doesn’t look that great on tape. He's a backup/special teams NFL athlete with poor instinct/vision as an ILB…thus his meager/weak 36 solo tackles in 2021 in 15 games. Too short and too poor of instinct to be a high pick linebacker, in my book.

NFL Comp? = Smaller Monty Rice

 

 

OLB Jeremiah Gemmel, North Carolina (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’2”/225

Pre-Combine Notes = Smart, instinctive linebacker with long arms/big wingspan…but a suspect athlete for the NFL. So-so speed with a body that needs time in the weight room to be an NFL LB. There’s an NFL football player upside here, just not sure how long it will take for him to get to it…and how much real impact he’ll have.

NFL Comp? = Josh Woods (last of DET in 2021)

 

 

ILB Nate Landman, Colorado (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: D+)

Estimate = 6'3”/235

Very productive as a sophomore and junior. Lost half of 2020 and 2021 to injuries.

Great size for an inside backer. Good instincts to diagnose quickly and react. Plays the run well and can cut through traffic to make the tackle. Just ok in coverage. Lots of floating around in the middle of the field. He's a solid enough player but rather stiff and unathletic.

NFL Comp? = Less athletic mix of Josey Jewell and Troy Reeder

 

 

OLB Zakoby McClain, Auburn (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: D+)

Estimate = 5'11”/215

Way too small to play LB in the NFL. He's almost got to transition to safety. He plays like one anyways, a lot of drifting in coverage and chasing the play. He'd rather go around a guy than through him. He looks like he's got enough speed and movement ability to play a hybrid safety/linebacker in-the-box position but I don't see him impacting the play all that often. He's just ok in coverage and as a blitzer.

NFL Comp? = Jamien Sherwood

 

 

ILB Chance Campbell, Mississippi (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D+)

Measurable Estimate = 6’2”/230

Pre-Combine Notes = Small middle linebacker. Smart player. Willing tackler. Classic ILB. Underwhelming speed and size for the NFL. Needs to bulk up some but not sure he’ll be able to have the speed to be a top 150 pick. Maybe a 7th-rounder at first glance.

NFL Comp? = Chapelle Russell

 

 

OLB Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D/D+)

Measurable Estimate = 5’11”/230

Pre-Combine Notes = Solid enough college middle linebacker but doesn’t have the size or juice for the NFL. Doesn’t look like the speed to be a LB/SAF, but we’ll see at the Combine. Don’t see any real exciting things here. 129 tackles, 16.0 TFLs in 14 games in 2021. Seven forced fumbles in 2020, 11 games, is intriguing – 11 FFs in the past two seasons is something.

NFL Comp? = Bryce Hager

 

 

ILB Darien Butler, Arizona St (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: D)

Estimate = 6'0”/220

Not sure why he's listed as an inside backer because he was playing a hybrid OLB/S spot for Arizona St. I'd say he needs to move to safety but I don't think he's fast enough for that. We've seen more and more undersized OLB's lately since everyone is moving to these nickel defenses 70% of the time, so maybe he'll be ok. Pretty decent at sifting through trash to make the tackle but he doesn't do much in coverage, lot of drifting around with nobody near him. I don't see anything to get excited about.

NFL Comp? = Zaire Anderson

 

 

OLB Nephi Sewell, Utah (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D)

Measurable Estimate = 5’11”/225

Pre-Combine Notes = Looks more like he’s a safety than NFL linebacker. Good nose for the ball…5 career INTs, 3 fumble recoveries. Solid enough player for college but looks insignificant for the NFL.

NFL Comp? = Not as athletic a version of Sutton Smith.

 

 

OLB Jake Hansen, Illinois (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D)

Measurable Estimate = 6’0”/230

Pre-Combine Notes = Scrappy but small middle linebacker in college…looks too small and not able to bulk up to become an NFL impact starting LB. Perhaps, he can move to a SAF/LB hybrid…we’ll see if his Combine numbers work out OK enough for some hope at it. Probably goes down as a good enough college linebacker but a never-was in the NFL.

NFL Comp? = Slower, smaller Cody Barton.

 

 

OLB Jeremiah Moon, Florida (Post-SB scouting grade: D-)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D

Estimate = 6’2”/230

SB Measurements: Did not attend, no reason found

Post-SB Note: Did not attend, no reason found

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Pre-SB Note:  Interesting prospect...where to begin? Six-year player…that’s a problem. A redshirt 2016 + an injury in 2020. Was starting to flash a bit in 2019 and 2020, but then returned from injury in 2021 and was ‘meh’…could be he wasn’t 100%. Has moments where he looks like an NFL player…rapid acceleration after things, but I didn’t see any consistent play. He’s worth a cheap flier for an NFL team.

NFL Comp? = Has some Leonard Floyd look about him.

 

 

ILB JoJo Domann, Nebraska (Post-SB scouting grade: D-)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D-

Estimate = 6’1”/230

SB Measurements: 6’0.7”/226, 9.4” hands, 30.3” arms

Post-SB Note: He tries hard, gives the effort but I don’t think he has enough to make any impact in the NFL.

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Pre-SB Note: Scrappy, undersized linebacker. The tape I had showed him as more of an edge rusher…there’s no way he’s going to be that in the NFL. If he has a chance at the NFL, it would be adding 10-15 pounds of muscle and going to middle linebacker. I don’t see it happening.

NFL Comp? = Jordan Glasgow

 

 

OLB Josh Ross, Michigan (Pre-Combine scouting grade: D-)

Measurable Estimate = 5’11”/230

Pre-Combine Notes = Smaller, thicker…hard-nosed but not a great/quick athlete. Looks like a good college player but not a big-time NFL prospect.

NFL Comp? = Chase Hansen

 

 

ILB Micah McFadden, Indiana (Pre-East/West Shrine Bowl scouting grade: D-)

Estimate = 6'1”/230

Undersized, unassuming college MLB. I don't see anything to suggest he'll be anything more than a special teamer. One of the worst prospects I've reviewed so far. Average athlete, not a great tackler, often out of position...hard pass.

NFL Comp? = Someone that won't make a roster

 

 

OLB Terrel Bernard, Baylor (Post-SB scouting grade: F+)

*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: F+

Estimate = 5’11/220

SB Measurements: 6’0.4”/220, 9.2” hands, 30.6” arms

Post-SB Note: I still don’t see it with him. Even a move to safety may not make any sense.

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Pre-SB Note: He's listed as 6’1/220 but I don’t see it. I think his Senior Bowl weigh in will tank him, in that respect. He’s really a safety sized prospect, but I don’t see NFL speed/quicks here. I’m totally turned off in my preview. We’ll see if the week in Mobile changes my mind.

NFL Comp? = ‘no thanks’