2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Linebackers

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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 in Jacksonville. Mykal Walker is a nice-looking young player, but he didn’t have a huge role for the Falcons in 2021. They signed Rashaan Evans to assume Oluokun’s duties, but the group undoubtedly got worse from 2021. There are some impressive players in the draft if they decide to go that route. Previous editions are listed below:



12. Brandon Smith — Penn State

While he may get some comparisons to his former teammate Micah Parsons, I doubt Smith lives up to that billing. However, Smith is another freak athlete who can blitz from the box. He’s an exciting project player that could develop into a star.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.97/10


11. 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. Clark suffered an injury, but I still love his potential.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.87/10


10. Brian Asamoah — Oklahoma

Asamoah is a very 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.

Relative Athletic Score: 8.88/10


9. Troy Andersen — Montana State

Andersen was one of the big winners of the 2022 NFL Combine, posting absurd numbers and showing good lateral agility in space. Regardless of his level of competition, it’s hard to ignore a 6’3” and 245-pound linebacker running a 4.42 40-yard dash with a 3.99 shuttle. He can be molded into a very, very special talent.

Relative Athletic Score: 10/10


8. Darrian Beavers — Cincinnati

If I had to pick one sleeper on this list, it would absolutely be Beavers. A former safety, Beavers displays an excellent understanding of his defense and is by all accounts a very high-character player. He’s solid in coverage and has impressive 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.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.6/10


7. Chad Muma — Wyoming

Muma needs some seasoning, but he was a sure tackler on Wyoming’s defense and tested off the charts. He can cover running backs when required, but he’s still a solid thumper up the middle that should make an impact against the run from day one.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.77/10


6. Channing Tindall — Georgia

Although Tindall didn’t play a huge role in Georgia’s defense before 2021, he showed some of the most incredible sideline-to-sideline range in 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.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.67/10


5. Christian Harris — Alabama

I thought Christian Harris would have a bigger year statistically at Alabama. Still, 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.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.05/10


4. Leo Chenal — Wisconsin

A strong blitzer and an enforcer in the run game, Leo Chanel made plenty of bone crushing hits at Wisconsin. His tape is very clean, and it’s clear he was asked to do a lot for the Badgers — especially as a pass rusher. Throw in his ridiculous testing numbers, and you’re looking at a real attractive prospect.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.99/10


3. Quay Walker — Georgia

Walker made an incredible jump as a Senior at Georgia, and he was a massive part of the National Championship effort. Walker is a freak athlete who can cover ground easily, and he’s a guy you can develop that will still give you solid snaps right now.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.63/10


2. Devin Lloyd — Utah

While I don’t think he has the raw athletic talent that made Micah Parsons the 2021 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Kyle Wittingham used Devin Lloyd in many ways that Dan Quinn used Parsons in Dallas. Lloyd is a very well-rounded player and an excellent 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.

Relative Athletic Score: 9.58/10


1. Nakobe Dean — Georgia

If you’re ranking players in this class and not considering the 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 offenses 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.

Relative Athletic Score: N/A


Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire




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