2015 NFL Draft: Early Look at Inside Linebackers

5 of 6

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

Mid-Round Steals

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.

Players, like Ben Heeney or Clemson’s Stephone Anthony, may lack top-end athleticism, but they play with good instincts and a high motor, causing them to make a lot of plays on the field.

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.

Other mid-round guys to keep an eye on that could be instant contributors at the next level are Texas’s Jordan Hicks and USC’s Hayes Pullard.

Both possess the ability to move fluidly in space, while remaining physical between the tackles.

Next: Late round gems