2016 NFL draft: Top 10 linebackers
1. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame. Height: 6-2. Weight: 223. Class: Junior. Stats: 115 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 1 sack. 40-yard dash: N/A. Projection: Round 3-4.
Top linebacker in this class potentially would be the first defensive player drafted if not for a devastating knee injury that could drop him to Day 3.
2. Myles Jack, UCLA. Height: 6-1. Weight: 245. Class: Junior. Stats: 15 tackles, 0 tackles for loss, 0 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.56. Projection: Top 10.
Torn meniscus wiped out his junior season and could drop him a couple spots in the draft, though it’s hard to fathom he could drop out of the top 10.
3. Darron Lee, Ohio State. Height: 6-0¾. Weight: 232. Class: Sophomore. Stats: 66 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.47. Projection: Round 1.
Raw and undersized linebacker with rare athleticism who entered college as a safety and still can line up across slot receivers in man-to-man coverage.
4. Reggie Ragland, Alabama. Height: 6-1¼. Weight: 247. Class: Senior. Stats: 102 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.72 Projection: Round 1.
Thumper between the tackles who can make immediate impact in the middle of a defense while playing well enough in pass coverage.
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Ragland can cover in nickel, but well enough?
5. Deion Jones, LSU. Height: 6-0⅞. Weight: 222. Class: Senior. Stats: 88 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.59. Projection: Round 2.
Athletic linebacker doesn’t offer much defending the run, but his range and ability to play in space will appeal to teams needing a coverage linebacker.
6. Joshua Perry, Ohio State. Height: 6-3¾. Weight: 254. Class: Senior. Stats: 105 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.68. Projection: Round 2.
Coming from a Buckeyes program that could produce seven first-round picks, has been overshadowed compared to his potential to develop into a starter early in his career.
7. Kentrell Brothers, Missouri. Height: 6-0⅜. Weight: 245. Class: Senior. Stats: 152 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.89. Projection: Round 2-3.
College football’s leading tackler is as active as it gets inside the box, but doesn’t have the speed to cover on third downs and fits best as middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
8. B.J. Goodson, Clemson. Height: 6-0⅝. Weight: 242. Class: Senior. Stats: 108 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.69. Projection: Round 3.
Team captain in his lone season as full-time starter in Tigers defense, leading his club in tackles last year.
9. Joe Schobert, Wisconsin. Height: 6-1⅜. Weight: 244. Class: Junior. Stats: 76 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.76. Projection: Round 3-4.
Former high school safety, could offer underrated third-down value in coverage and rushing the passer.
10. Scooby Wright III, Arizona. Height: 5-11¾. Weight: 239. Class: Junior. Stats: 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks. 40-yard dash: 4.9. Projection: Round 3-4.
Won Bronco Nagurski Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award and Chuck Bednarik Award in 2014 before torn meniscus and sprained right foot forced him to miss all but three games last season.