Packers 2018 Draft: Pre-Combine Position Rankings

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley /
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Linebacker Rankings

1. Roquan Smith, Georgia

2. Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

3. Rashaan Evans, Alabama

4. Malik Jefferson, Texas

5. Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

6. Josey Jewell, Iowa

7. Jerome Baker, Ohio State

8. Micah Kiser, Virginia

9. Fred Warner, BYU

10. Darius Leonard, South Carolina State

Other: Oren Burks (Vanderbilt), Dorian O’Daniel (Clemson), Mike McCray (Michigan), Christian Sam (Arizona State), Tegray Scales (Indiana), Azeem Victor (Washington), Keishawn Bierria (Washington), Shaun Dion Hamilton (Alabama), Tre’ Williams (Auburn), Jack Cichy (Wisconsin)

Overview: This is a very good linebacker class with several special players that could land in the first round. It really comes down to preference and fit when deciding between Smith and Edmunds as the top player at the position.

Smith is a fast fly-to-the ball athlete with tremendous on-field awareness. Although he’s a bit undersized (225 pounds) and can get lost in the trash at times, he’s still the best sideline-to-sideline linebacker in the class. He should be gone in the first 15 picks.

Edmunds is the guy to watch for Green Bay in the first round. If he lasts to pick 14, he could really be a player they seriously consider. At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Edmunds possesses a rare combination of athleticism, size, and speed.

He can take on blocks and wreck plays at the line of scrimmage. He can also chase down ball carriers outside of the tackle box. Add in the fact he can also rush off the edge, and he’s a certainly one of the top defenders in this class.

The depth of this linebacker class continues on. Evans and Jefferson are explosive athletes with high ceilings, but their mental awareness on the field needs work. They also need to be more consistent. However, they possess enough raw tools to receive first round talk.

Vander Esch, Jewell, and Baker are legitimate round two players who could start immediately in the NFL. Vander Esch is a ridiculous athlete who could blow up the combine later this month. His film is also very impressive, but he only started one year at Boise State.

Jewell on the other hand is an adequate athlete, but he really wins by being so sound at reading and diagnosing plays. He’s highly underrated and made play after play as a four-year starter at Iowa. He’s one of the real gems in the draft class and could be a big-time find for a team in the second or third round.

And then there’s guys like Warner, Leonard, and O’Daniel who possess speed and excel playing out in space. They’re built for the nickel defense and are excellent pass defenders.

Even with the recent success of Blake Martinez at the position, the Packers could certainly use another athletic inside linebacker on their roster. It would be a shame if they didn’t take advantage of the one of the few positions that is truly deep in this class.