2020 NFL Draft: Dave Archer scouts the top linebackers

ArcherLB

Editor's note:This is part of a series in which Falcons analyst and former NFL quarterback Dave Archer shares his insights after scouting some of the top players at each position in the 2020 NFL Draft.

I thought this was the toughest position on the defense to evaluate. There are a ton of multi-positional linebackers this year, which makes it tough to decide where they play their best football. The Falcons, with the loss of De'Vondre Campbell in free agency, have some options here. Deion Jones is one of the most instinctive linebackers in the league against both the run and pass. Foye Oluokun will get his opportunity to step in and start. I think there are some linebackers on the board in this draft that could help bolster the Falcons linebacker corps.

Simmons_AP_19265833344614

Name: Isaiah Simmons

School: Clemson

Grade: RS Junior

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 238 lbs

Measurables:  4.39 (40-yard dash), 20 reps (bench press), 39" vertical jump

Strengths

  • Elite multi-level athlete with rare size, speed, and power combo (Edge, LB, Slot corner, Safety)
  • Sideline-to-sideline defender with an extra gear
  • Excellent read-and-react ability

Weaknesses

  • Good tackler but doesn't always wrap up
  • Tends to run around blocks, creates running lanes in defense
Murray_AP_19328200278427

Name: Kenneth Murray

School: Oklahoma

Grade: Junior

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 241 lbs

Measurables: 4.52 (40-yard dash, 21 reps (bench press), 38" vertical jump

Strengths

  • Fast, physical player that flies to the football
  • Solid tackler, 109 tackles (2019) and big 12 Defensive player of year (2018) with 155 tackles
  • Character guy, help raised as a big brother three special-needs children that his parents adopted

Weaknesses

  • Will over-pursue some, can be too aggressive
  • Inexperienced one-on-one pass defender, used more as a blitzer
Queen_AP_20014163618556

Name: Patrick Queen

School: LSU

Grade: Junior

Height: 6'0"

Weight: 229 lbs

Measurables: 4.50 (40-yard dash), 18 reps (bench press), 35" vertical jump

Strengths

  • Excellent instincts against the run and pass (especially reading screens)
  • Smooth athlete and a solid finisher when tackling
  • Three-down linebacker

Weaknesses

  • A little undersized, can get swallowed up trying to shed blocks
  • Just a one-year starter, shows inexperience at times
AP_Zack Baun

Name: Zack Baun

School: Wisconsin

Grade: Senior

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 238 lbs

Measurables: 4.65 (40-yard dash), 24 reps (bench press) , 32 1/2" vertical jump

Strengths

  •  Excellent blitzer or edge rusher (success as undersized edge rusher) 12 1/2 sacks (2019)
  •  Excellent range at linebacker, showed solid technique in coverage
  •  Displayed good strength at the contact point

Weaknesses

  • Because he was used so often as edge rusher, can he move inside off the ball?
  • Too small to be a full-time edge rusher
Harrison_AP_19338015343787

Name: Malik Harrison

School: Ohio St.

Grade: Senior

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 247 lbs

Measurables: 4.66 (40-yard dash), no bench press numbers, 36" vertical jump

Strengths

  • Smart and aggressive downhill player
  • Excellent nose for the ball, very disruptive at point of attack and very good range outside
  • Good tackler, 66 percent of his tackles as starter were solo tackles

Weaknesses

  • Coverage limitations, was fooled on play action a number of times
  • Played too high at times, poor leverage

A few to pay attention to in the middle of draft:

Willie Gay Jr. – Miss St. (Jr.)

  • 6'1", 243 lbs 
  • Thick, explosive player, good tackler, had a tremendous combine

Logan Wilson - Wyoming (Sr)

  • 6'2", 242 lbs
  • Elite-level tackler, reads and diagnosis, three-down linebacker  

Jordan Brooks – Texas Tech (Sr.)

  • 6'1", 240 lbs
  • Very experienced linebacker (44 starts), consistent tackler with good lateral speed

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