Packers Future Draft Prospects: CFB Players to watch this Fall
By Dan Dahlke
Ohio State Buckeyes running backJalin Marshall
(17) loses his helmet as he is hit by Alabama Crimson Tide linebackerReggie Ragland
(19). Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Future Draft Need: Linebacker
Green Bay’s defense has improved leaps and bounds this season, but inside linebacker remains a work in progress.
Clay Matthews is playing some of his best football and Nate Palmer has been adequate, but overall, the position is a bit anemic. Sam Barrington is still very inexperienced and will be coming off a major injury next season.
The Packers drafted Jake Ryan in the fourth round this past offseason, but he has yet to carve out any type of role on defense. When Matthews to the outside, they still need a player to step up and anchor the middle of their defense.
There are too many question marks at inside linebacker for the Packers to not address it next offseason. They need a reliable playmaker and run thumper to line up alongside Matthews on the inside, and they also need a guy who can hold his own on passing downs when Clay moves to the outside to pressure the quarterback.
CFB Players to Watch
Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Darron Lee (43). Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith is easily the top linebacker in the 2016 NFL Draft class, but he’ll be long gone in the first 10-15 picks of the draft.
Former UCLA standout Myles Jack is also an incredible defensive talent and a name to remember this spring, but his college season is already over due to injury.
A few top linebackers to really keep an eye on for the remainder of the college season that could be potential draft prospects for the Packers are Alabama’s Reggie Ragland and Ohio State’s Darron Lee.
Ragland is a classic 6-2, 255-pound thumper who terrorizes offenses up at the line of scrimmage. His physical playing style and ability as a run stopper will be enticing to any defense looking to improve in these areas. He also has adequate speed and athleticism for his size and offers a lot as a situational pass rusher on third down.
Lee is a unique talent. Very few linebackers can line up wide and cover slot receivers as well as he does.
Lee possesses incredible speed and athleticism for the position, and he can make plays rushing off the edge or dropping in space. The Ohio State product fits the mold of the modern NFL linebacker–he can drop in coverage, rush the passer, and make plays in pursuit against the run.
Other LBs to Track: Lee is not the only Ohio State linebacker to keep an eye on this fall. Middle linebacker Joshua Perry is as tough and smart as they come. He’s not the athlete Lee is, but he’s incredibly dependable and savvy. He’s a true leader on a very good Buckeyes defense.
Auburn also boasts a pair of very talented linebackers in Casanova McKinzey and Kris Frost. Both are underrated prospects that could land in the middle to early rounds of the draft next spring.
Next: Top CFB Edge Rushers to Watch