The Falcons have a lot of questions going into this season at linebacker. The team might look to move Deion Jones’ contract, and the NFL’s leading tackler Foyesade Oluokun is a free agent. Mykal Walker is a nice looking young player, but he didn’t have a huge role for the Falcons in 2021. The team may look to free agency to address the position, but there’s some good looking players in the draft if they decide to go that route. We’ll finish up with safeties and corners on Monday before the combine on Tuesday. Previous editions are listed below:
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Quarterbacks (Pre-Combine)
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Running Backs (Pre-Combine)
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends (Pre-Combine)
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Offensive Line (Pre-Combine)
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Defensive Line & EDGE (Pre-Combine)
8. Channing Tindall — Georgia
Although Tindall didn’t play a huge role on Georgia’s defense before 2021, he showed some of the most incredible sideline to sideline range in all of college football. He’s a true “see ball, get ball” linebacker that could slide into that role nicely with his raw athleticism and good technique when making tackles.
7. Brian Asamoah — Oklahoma
Asamoah is a super athletic player that was a big part of a respectable Oklahoma defense. He was responsible for going sideline to sideline in the Big 12, and he made a lot of plays on the perimeter against screens and jet sweeps. He has a lot of range, and while he may need some development, he could blossom into a quality starter.
6. Darrian Beavers — Cincinnati
If I had to pick one sleeper on this list, it would absolutely be Beavers. A former safety, Beavers displays excellent understanding of his defense and is by all accounts a very high-character player. He’s solid in coverage and has great attention to detail. I’m not sure if Beavers will be making an impact from day one, but I’ll be buying a ton of stock in his future.
5. Quay Walker — Georgia
Walker made an incredible jump as a Senior at Georgia, and he was a huge part of the National Championship effort. Walker is a freak athlete that can cover both sidelines well, and he’s a guy that you can develop that will still give you solid snaps right now.
4. Damone Clark — LSU
Clark was a team captain at LSU, and something that you noticed at the Senior Bowl and on tape is that his motor runs HOT. Clark is always flying to the football and looking to make a big play, and he profiles as a guy who can play multiple roles in a defense for that reason.
3. Christian Harris — Alabama
I thought Christian Harris would have a bigger year statistically at Alabama, but a lot of the time he was simply overshadowed on tape by the incredible talents of Will Anderson and Dallas Turner. Make no mistake — he’s still an impact player. He’s a fantastic athlete that has shown the ability to stick in man coverage and enforce against the run. Harris is a really nice looking player for a team looking for an impact player on defense on day two.
2. Devin Lloyd — Utah
While I don’t think he has the raw athletic talent that made him the 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Kyle Wittingham uses Devin Lloyd in a lot of ways that Dan Quinn used Micah Parsons in Dallas. Lloyd is a very well-rounded player and a very solid athlete at the position. He’s a versatile defensive piece that can be turned into an absolute weapon like Parsons if the correct team can coach him up.
1. Nakobe Dean — Georgia
If you’re ranking players in this class and not considering position, Nakobe Dean may be in my top three overall. Dean is one of the smartest players in college football, and his ability to diagnose pre-snap was a huge part of what made Kirby Smart’s defense tick. There are very few holes in Dean’s game — he can cover in space, defend against the run, and work sideline to sideline against screens and jet sweeps. The Mechanical Engineering Major should have no issues adjusting to an NFL playbook, and he should be a quality starter in the NFL for a long time.