Georgia Bulldogs running back Keith Marshall (4) carries the ball while being defended by Clemson Tigers linebacker Stephone Anthony (42). Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
There will be quite a few linebackers available in the middle rounds that could come right in and contribute immediately to a team.
These players could also move up into the early rounds with strong performances at the Senior Bowl or NFL Combine.
Kansas Jayhawks linebacker Ben Heeney (31). Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Heeney was a tackling machine as a three-year starter at Kansas and plays much bigger than his size (6-0, 230) at the position. He’s also a natural at plugging running lanes and making plays at the line of scrimmage.
He could start someday in the NFL, and his skills should translate well to inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Anthony may be the most physical player at the position in this year’s draft. He just plain knocks people out.
Anthony is an aggressive, downhill player who is great at shedding blocks and making plays behind the line of scrimmage. He should be drafted by a team looking to improve their run defense.
However, it remains to be seen how well Anthony can hold up dropping in coverage at the next level. His Combine workout and performance at the Senior Bowl may shine more light on this in the coming weeks.
Both possess the ability to move fluidly in space, while remaining physical between the tackles.
Next: Late round gems