The Detroit Lions have been doing their homework on this year's linebacker draft class, and with little movement at the position in free agency, it’s fair to speculate that adding a high-value linebacker in this draft cycle is in their offseason plans.
At the top of the linebacker rankings, most analysts have Utah’s Devin Lloyd and Georgia’s Nakobe Dean battling it out for the top spot. After that, there are a handful of linebackers fighting to be the next off the board. Two of those linebackers in the next tier also hail from Georgia, Quay Walker and Channing Tindall. So, when Georgia held their pro day on Wednesday, it’s no surprise that the Lions were well represented, sending Chris Spielman and Lions’ linebacker coach Kelvin Sheppard.
Not only were Spielman and Sheppard in attendance, but Sheppard ran all the linebacker drills at the event, giving them an up-close look at Dean, Walker, and Tindall.
Additionally, there was a fourth Bulldog taking part in linebacker drills: defensive lineman Travon Walker. After completing the defensive line drills, Walker jumped in and joined the linebackers, illustrating his position versatility.
So that brings us to our question of the day:
Which Georgia LB do you want on the Lions?
Before you shout your answer, let’s make this a bit more challenging. First, I am going to include Travon Walker in the conversation because he participated in the drills. Second, I don’t just want you to pick your favorite player, but I want you to consider the draft cost associated with acquiring him, adding a value perspective to the conversation.
So let’s look at the options for our poll.
Select Travon Walker at pick no. 2 overall: I included him, but he’s going to cost ya. A freakish athlete, at 6-foot-5, 272 pounds, Walker has rare positional range and can line up anywhere from the 3-technique to the stand-up, pass-rushing outside linebacker role. In Georgia’s scheme, Walker was asked to occupy blockers more than rush the passer, but he has the skill set to both set the edge and get home on the quarterback, which projects him to be a better NFL player than he showed in college.
Select Nakobe Dean by trading up from No. 32 and giving up a third-round pick: Dean is the best of Georgia’s off-the-ball linebackers, but I’m not going to let you pick the obvious choice without considering the cost to move up and get him. Yes, he is under 6-feet tall and just 229 pounds, and it will likely cause him to slide, but on the field, he is a game wrecker and that should get him drafted before pick No. 32.
Select Quay Walker at pick No. 34: At 6-foot-4, 241 pounds, Walker is a quality combination of traditional linebacker size mixed with the athletic traits of a modern-day defender. Strong in coverage and against the run, Walker’s developing his game quickly and could challenge to start from the moment he steps into Allen Park.
Select Channing Tindall at pick No. 66: Not as polished as his teammates, Tindall wasn’t a full-time starter on a loaded defense, but he contributed in a lot of different ways. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Tindall is the fastest and most explosive of the group (4.47 seconds, 40-yard-dash) but he struggles a bit when changing direction and could use more experience. He might not challenge to start right away, but he has the developmental ceiling to get there, and is an immediate impact four-phase special teams contributor.
My Choice: Quay Walker at No. 34
Dean is the better player and has incredible leadership skills, but I’m not sure he will slide all the way to pick No. 32 and I’m not a fan of giving up a third-round pick in a trade up. That being said, it’s not like Walker is a consolation prize, he is a stud in his own right. His balanced skill set—able to cover and stop the run—should appeal to the Lions, and it wouldn’t be long before he is starting.
A future linebacker duo of Walker and Derrick Barnes. Yes, please.
Agree? Disagree? Vote in the poll and let me know your choice by sounding off in the comments.
Which Georgia LB do you want on the Lions?
This poll is closed
Travon Walker at pick no. 2 overall
Nakobe Dean by trading up from No. 32 and giving up a third-round pick
Quay Walker at pick No. 34
Channing Tindall at pick No. 66