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PFF's top-15 off-ball linebackers in the 2019 NFL Draft

By PFF Analysis Team
Apr 11, 2019

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If you like your linebackers freakishly athletic, we’ve got good news for you. LSU’s Devin White and Michigan’s Devin Bush are fresh off absurd combine performances and ready to transform your defense. Both have been extremely productive in the PFF grading system over their careers. After them, there’s a handful of solid prospects who don’t quite have the same traits but are no slouches athletically in their own right. Notre Dame’s Te’von Coney, Washington’s Ben Burr-Kirven, Wisconsin’s T.J. Edwards and Minnesota’s Blake Cashman all graded out at 90.0-plus this past season, and they form a solid linebacker group in this year’s draft.

[Editor’s Note: To view all of Pro Football Focus’ advanced stats and grades for draft-eligible players, check out our 2019 NFL Draft Guide. All EDGE and ELITE subscribers already have access to the guide, and for those who don’t, you can get your copy for as low as $9.99!]

1. LB Devin White, LSU

No linebacker in college football had a higher grade in coverage than White’s 91.6 last season. His freakish athleticism suggests it was no fluke.

2. LB Devin Bush, Michigan

Bush can be a weapon as a blitzer in the right scheme. He had top-five pass-rushing grades among off-ball linebackers each of the past two seasons.

3. LB Te’von Coney, Notre Dame

Coney’s 90.5 coverage grade and 91.7 run-defense grade last season both ranked top 10 among all linebackers in college football.

4. LB Blake Cashman, Minnesota

Cashman earned a 90.0-plus overall grade this past season and tested out as one of the most athletic linebackers in the class at the combine.

5. LB Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame

Tranquill has been one of the best coverage linebackers in college football over the past couple seasons after earning an 83.3 coverage grade in 2018 and 90.1 in 2017.

6. LB Vosean Joseph, Florida

Joseph’s high-end plays make you think he can be an elite linebacker in the NFL, but his consistency leaves a lot to be desired at this point.

7. LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington

Burr-Kirvin ranked second behind LSU’s Devin White in coverage grade (91.2) in 2018, and his 91.2 overall grade ranked fourth among draft-eligible FBS off-ball linebackers with 400-plus defensive snaps played.

8. LB Sione Takitaki, BYU

A former edge defender turned off-ball linebacker in 2018, Takitaki earned an 88.6 run-defense grade with BYU, ranking tied for 13th with Kansas’ Joe Dineen Jr. among qualifiers. Takitaki also earned a 75.9 coverage grade across 365 coverage snaps in 2018.

9. LB Germaine Pratt, NC State

Earning an 84.7 pass-rush grade and a 90.3 run-defense grade, Pratt turned in the seventh-best overall grade (90.3) among qualifying off-ball linebackers in this class in 2018.

10. LB David Long, West Virginia

Long earned an 83.5 pass-rush grade across his 129 pass-rush snaps in 2018, ranking 10th among off-ball linebackers with 50 or more pass-rush snaps.

11. LB Mack Wilson, Alabama

Wilson checks a lot of boxes in that he’s as a former five-star recruit coming out of Alabama, but he’s yet to prove he can turn his limitless potential into results on the field. In his last two years with the Crimson Tide, Wilson earned sub-72.0 overall grades.

12. LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin

Among off-ball linebackers in the 2019 class with 400-plus defensive snaps played this past season, Edwards ranked fifth in overall grade (90.8) and 12th in coverage grade (84.8).

13. LB Cameron Smith, USC

Smith finished the 2018 season ranked inside the top 20 in run-stop percentage (12.6%) and tackling efficiency (17.20), both helping him to career highs nearly across the board.

14. LB Bobby Okereke, Stanford

Okereke didn’t break the top 20 in terms of overall grade in 2018, but his size and athleticism combine for a project worth taking on in the later rounds.

15. LB Malik Reed, Nevada

Reed, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 232 pounds, will likely make the transition from edge defender to off-ball linebacker at the NFL level after finishing the 2018 season with a Group of 5-high 50 defensive stops.

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