You’re nearing the end of your rookie draft(s) or deciding who to pick in the fourth or fifth round, I’m here to tell you four IDP linebackers you should target and stash. Waiting on them will benefit you.
Kwon Alexander, Buccaneers: The Bucs traded up to draft Kwon at 124th overall and he definitely fits the bill there but there’s one problem: Kwon is best suited as a weak-side LB and that position is filled by Lavonte David. Let’s check out how Kwon measured up next to Lavonte as Kwon had a better 40-yard dash, 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle but of course Lavonte is a beast on the field and this is no way saying Kwon is better. Kwon brings outstanding athleticism and strong work ethic to Tampa. He’ll provide the defense with speed and has some power to him. He can run with RBs and WRs in coverage and has 3-down potential without a doubt. Kwon will be battling Lansanah for the starting strong-side spot, which isn’t ideal for him but if that gets him on the field, but a rookie has to take every opportunity he can get. Kwon is a great target towards the end of your rookie drafts (while he isn’t known yet) and stash him, the wait will pay off. He has more upside than Lansanah but could start off on special teams to develop. He’s a quick learner and wants to succeed, hope you’re a quick learner too and draft and stash.
Jordan Hicks, Eagles: Hicks comes in as another draft and stash IDP, he’s sort of buried on the depth chart right now as he’s behind Kiko, Kendricks, Demeco and Brad Jones (gross) but he brings versatility to the defense and solid coverage skills (already 1-up on Brad). Hicks is a true leader and a coach on the field. He’s athletic and brings a high football IQ to the field as it’ll show against the run or pass as he’s able to read and react pretty good. He’s a sound tackler and will chase down the ball carrier in space to take him down. Coach Kelly definitely likes him though and envisions him as a 3-down LB as well as being a contributor on special teams (where majority of the rookies go). Hicks has tremendous upside, but has been held back because of his hip and Achilles injuries he’s suffered in 2012 and 2013, if that’s behind him then we’re ready to roll. He’s eventually going to replace Demeco Ryans, but for now he’ll be his understudy and is just about a mirror image of Mychal Kendricks. Depending on league size, you may have to use a late 3rd or mid-4th to grab Hicks as his name has been floating around as “sleeper” potential, but you draft him, you stash him as he may not contribute until 2016.
Ramik Wilson, Chiefs: The Chiefs needed LB depth bad after what happened last season when they lost their All-Pro, Derrick Johnson. But now that he’s back and not any younger, the Chiefs went ahead and drafted Ramik Wilson from Georgia. He led the SEC in tackles in 2013 (133 tackles) and he brings versatility to the defense with the ability to play both outside and inside. He had some help while at UGA as he learned a lot from fellow alumni Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones (only one is having a better career in the NFL though). Ramik was a leader on that UGA defense and a solid 3-year starter. He’s an in the box linebacker with speed to run downfield and close in on running lanes. He’s a very consistent tackler and an accurate power hitter, one of the better power hitters in this draft class. Wilson needs to bulk up a little and get stronger while he continues to learn and develop with the veterans, could be a starter by mid-season as he could earn his snaps by outplaying Mauga (it can happen). Go ahead and stash Ramik when you draft him, he’s going to replace Johnson or Mauga sooner than later and you’ll be glad to welcome in someone who has top 35 potential.
Martrell Spaight, Redskins: With the 141st pick in the NFL Draft, the Redskins took Martrell Spaight out of Arkansas. Spaight was a little bit of a mystery as he was a limited starter at Arkansas, but he was an aggressive attacker and a straight line linebacker. He isn’t afraid to attack behind the line of scrimmage or use his length to make tackles in space. Spaight wasn’t asked to drop back into coverage much but during the Senior Bowl he has shown he’s capable of it (that’s a plus). Martrell is a stash because he’s eventually going to replace Perry Riley; he just isn’t ready to contribute in year one. He needs time to develop and bulk up a little so he’d have an easier time freeing himself from blocks and won’t have difficulty in traffic. At least you don’t have to question his effort, he brings it on every play and is eager to learn as this project will pay off. Sounds similar to Keenan Robinson huh? He was pegged as London Fletcher’s replacement, needed time to develop and learn ILB, now he’s about to shine and Spaight could follow in his footsteps. Keep an eye on Spaight when you’re drafting, this late round pick could work out just fine for you down the road.