1. Eric Kendricks (UCLA) | 6-foot-0, 232 pounds
Kendricks is the best all-around talent at inside linebacker. He’s always around the ball and is a great downhill attacker. He’s a playmaker with great instincts and one of the best cover LBs in this draft. He may be a little undersized for an ILB, which leads me to believe that some teams will label him as a WILL linebacker.
2. Paul Dawson (TCU) | 6-foot-0, 235 pounds
Dawson is another guy who will fit well as a 4-3 WILL or a 3-4 ILB. His combine numbers will turn some people off, but his instincts and production at TCU cannot be ignored. He averaged a tackle every 5.3 snaps and had by far the highest run-stop percentage (23.2) among all ILB prospects. To put that into perspective, Chris Borland led the NFL with 21.3 percent last year.
3. Stephone Anthony (Clemson) | 6-foot-3, 243 pounds
No one brings more energy to the field than Anthony. He’s a violent hitter with great closing speed and is a heat-seeking missile on A-gap blitzes. His aggressive nature can also be one of his downfalls, as he tends to overpursue and open up cutback lanes. I’d also like to see him attack blockers rather than try to run around them most of the time.
4. Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi State) | 6-foot-4, 246 pounds
McKinney looks unspectacular on tape, but he’s an efficient tackler with very good athleticism for his bulky frame. He’s much better in run support than he is in coverage, and he’s very good at blitzing up the middle.
5. Denzel Perryman (Miami [FL]) | 5-foot-11, 236 pounds
Perryman is strong as hell and benched 30 reps at his pro day. He has decent closing speed and is very strong at the point of attack. My main concern is his lack of athleticism and struggles in coverage. He’s often slow to diagnose and react to plays, which causes him to arrive late to the ball carrier. I see him making more of an impact on special teams than at linebacker.
6. Hayes Pullard (USC) | 6-foot-0, 240 pounds
The talent among ILB prospects appears to take a huge drop from the top five prospects. Pullard is a solid Day 3 prospect, but will need to add some strength and make more of an impact as a run stopper in the NFL. He’s a very good coverage LB who can mirror in man coverage and make plays on the ball.
7. Ramik Wilson (Georgia) | 6-foot-2, 237 pounds
Wilson has nice sideline-to-sideline speed and does well in run pursuit, but he also has below-average strength and tends to get swallowed up versus the run. He was a three-year starter at Georgia with some productive numbers. My biggest knock on Wilson would be his tendency of catching tackles rather than delivering them.
8. Taiwan Jones (Michigan State) | 6-foot-3, 245 pounds
I'm normally completely biased toward Michigan State, but I will admit that I can’t view Jones as anything better than a late-round pick. He’s a poor athlete, and you can tell just by how slow he looks in run pursuit. However, he does do a nice job as an A-gap blitzer, and I’m sure he’ll be able to stick somewhere as a rotational two-down ILB in a 3-4 scheme.
9. Jeff Luc (Cincinnati) | 6-foot-0, 251 pounds
Luc sports an extremely bulky frame, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams peg him as a fullback rather than a LB. He’s a solid wrap-up tackler and had a knack for stripping the ball out, recovering four fumbles in 2014.
10. Bryce Hager (Baylor) | 6-foot-1, 234 pounds
Hager has nice athleticism and posted some pretty solid numbers at the combine. He has the body type of an ILB but the instincts of a WILL. He doesn’t diagnose runs as quickly as you’d like to see, but he does a pretty solid job in both zone and man coverage.