Three 2018 Draft Prospects to Watch: Outside Linebacker

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Detroit Added A Linebacker In Last Years Draft And Could Possibly Do It Again This Year.


In last years draft the Lions drafted inside linebacker Jarrad Davis. While outside linebacker is not Detroit’s biggest need, they still might look to add one in the 2018 draft.

One of this seasons starters at outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead, is a free agent. Even if the Lions opt to bring Whitehead back they could still benefit by adding another quality outside linebacker to the roster.

2018 Draft Class Options- Outside Linebacker

The three guys who will be featured in this article are guys that have improved their draft stock a lot this season. They didn’t start the seas0n as top prospects.

Three guys who could potentially be stud outside linebackers in the NFL are Georgia’s Roquan Smith, Alabama’s Rashaan Evans, and Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds.

Roquan Smith- Georgia

 

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Smith played pretty well as a sophomore in 2016 but he really broke out in 2017. The junior made 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six and a half sacks. He was one of the best linebackers in college football and projects best as an outside linebacker in the NFL.

NFL teams are beginning to look for linebackers who are athletic enough to hold up in coverage and Smith is absolutely that kind of linebacker. He has excellent speed and coverage ability.

His instincts and ability to read where a play is going make Smith an outstanding run defender as well. On top of that, he is a reliable tackler and can deliver some big hits when the opportunity arises.

The main issue with Smith is his size, he is listed at 6’1” and 225 lbs. Smith may have issues fighting off of blocks at the next level where the players are stronger and more athletic.

Rashaan Evans- Alabama

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Evans was one of the key defenders for the national champions this season. The senior recorded 74 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks and three pass breakups.

At 6’3” and 234 lbs., Evans has good size for the next level and the athleticism needed to excel in the NFL. His athleticism helps him a lot in pass coverage because he can run with just about everyone he has to cover.

Evans is a very good run defender. He plays a physcial brand of football, he doesn’t hesitate to take on blockers and delivers big hits on ball-carriers pretty consistently. Rarley do ball-carriers fall forward when they are tackled by Evans.

Since he plays at Alabama, Evans benefits from playing for guys like defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne. Because of this he doesn’t have to work through as much traffic as other linebackers do. This makes his job easier and may make him look slighly better than he his.

Tremaine Edmunds- Virgina Tech

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Edmunds performed extremely well this season, compiling 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and five sacks. He put up very similar stats as a sophomore in 2016.

What makes Edmunds so good is his blend of size, listed at 6’5” and 250 lbs., and athleticism. He has the potential to be an every down linebacker in the NFL. The junior doesn’t shy away from contact like a lot of linebacker prospects do. Edmunds has the speed to run ball-carriers down and the burst to get into the backfield and cause havoc.

Linebackers who have the size that Edmunds has often stuggle in pass coverage. That is not the case with Edmunds. He has the speed to run with tight ends and most running backs.

The biggest knock on Edmunds is that he sometimes guesses on plays and gets caught out of position. He will have to learn to be a little more patient and react to what he sees rather than just guessing.

I really hope you enjoyed the article! Follow me on twitter @CHayes95 and join the discussion on the Lions subreddit!

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About the Author

Cory Hayes
I attend Central Michigan University, I am majoring in Journalism and minoring in Sport Management. I am a junior. I am from Marysville, MI. I love following sports, both professional and collegiate. I follow the Lions, Pistons, and Tigers very closely, and the college team that I choose to cheer for is Ohio State.