Top 10 Rookie LBs for IDP

The Senior Bowl and NFL Combine have both come and gone and the draft is steadily approaching. As dynasty IDP owners it’s important that we look at the next group of linebackers that can help bolster our rosters.

Below are my pre-draft top ten linebackers for IDP leagues. Landing spots and draft capital can certainly affect these rankings, but these are some players I’m keeping an eye on.

1.) Isaiah Simmons – Clemson

Simmons is an absolute game changer on defense. He is a defensive Swiss army knife with the ability to play linebacker, safety, slot corner, and bring it as a blitzer. Simmons lit up the combine with his blazing 40 yard dash of 4.39 seconds, 39’’ vertical, and 132’’ broad jump. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider Simmons’ size at 6’4’’ and 238 pounds.

While Simmons’ specific position is in question, I feel he will be drafted to play linebacker and see most of his time there. He will certainly align in different spots at times, but the bottom line is he’s not coming off the field. Not only is Simmons my top linebacker, but he is also my number one overall IDP prospect. I can’t wait to see where he ends up on draft night.

2.) Patrick Queen – LSU

Queen, is a bit of a late bloomer with limited production his first two seasons and the fact he wasn’t a starter the first few games this season. He may have started off slow, but he finished with a fury.

Queen, put on an impressive performance in the National Championship game against Clemson amassing eight total tackles (6 solo), two and a half tackles for loss, and a half a sack. That performance earned him the defensive MVP honors of the National Championship game.

He possesses sideline to sideline range and showed off his speed at the combine running a 4.50 second 40 yard dash. Not only does he have the speed teams covet, but he also has good instincts reading plays and in coverage. He’s not the biggest player at 6’ tall and 229 pounds, but is an explosive athlete who packs a punch when finishing tackles.

3.) Kenneth Murray – Oklahoma

An impressive athlete with stellar college production (325 career tackles), Kenneth Murray has been a force to reckon with during his time at Oklahoma. Standing 6’2’’ and weighing 241 pounds, Murray has a chiseled frame and long arms that aid in him being such an effective tackler.

Murray’s excellent speed was recently on display at the NFL combine as he ran a 4.52 second 40 yard dash in his only attempt before tweaking his hamstring. Murray is an explosive athlete with sideline to sideline range and an impressive tackle radius. Another trait that stands out is Murray’s ability as a blitzer. He brings the heat both up the middle and off the edge when called upon. Murray and Queen will challenge each other as the second linebacker off the board after Simmons come draft time. 

4.) Malik Harrison – Ohio State

At 6’3’’ and weighing 247 pounds, Harrison is an intimidating physical presence on the field. Harrison is a very physical player who can play through traffic and come up and fill running lanes. Harrison ran a very impressive 4.66 second 40 yard dash at the combine, but even more impressive was his 6.83 second 3-Cone Drill which ranked first among all linebackers.

Showing legit speed and agility at the combine, Harrison’s athleticism was on full display for NFL personnel to see. While he could use some improvement in coverage, he has the athleticism and ability to do just that. Harrison has the experience, production, and athleticism that teams look for and should be a productive IDP asset.

5.) Troy Dye – Oregon

For four straight years at Oregon, Troy Dye was the leading tackler for the Ducks. A leader and team captain, he leaves the program with an impressive 391 career tackles.

Dye is an athletic linebacker that possesses sideline to sideline range and adequate coverage ability. He also showed toughness this year as he played the second half of the season with a broken thumb and the last four games with a partially torn meniscus.

Unfortunately, Dye required surgery on his knee and was unable to participate in drills at the combine. He will get his chance to showcase his abilities at Oregon’s pro day this month.

Jaime Valdez – USA TODAY Sports

6.) Akeem Davis-Gaither – Appalachian State

Davis-Gaither is a small school prospect who has steadily risen through the pre draft process. He made some noise at the Senior Bowl displaying the speed and athleticism he brings to the position.

Unfortunately, he was unable to participate in the combine due to a foot injury that required surgery. One positive note was he checked in at 6’1’’ and 224 pounds which is about ten pounds heavier than his listed weight this season. Davis-Gaither has a slender frame so the added mass will help him hold up at the next level.

Despite his slender frame, Davis-Gaither plays with impressive physicality and will explode downhill to finish plays. Compiling 197 total tackles and 24 tackles for loss the last two seasons, he has shown the ability to make plays all over the field.

7.) Logan Wilson – Wyoming

You want to talk about production, well Wilson has it. He compiled an astounding 409 career tackles in his four years at Wyoming. Not only did he pile up the tackles, but he also snagged ten interceptions in his impressive career.

Wilson answered any questions regarding his speed at the combine running an impressive 4.63 second 40 yard dash. That is a rock solid time especially when you consider he stands 6’2’’ and 241 pounds. Wilson also looked good in the on field drills showing off his fluid athleticism.

A converted safety, Wilson is comfortable in coverage and has a three down skill set. Drafted to the right spot, Wilson could flourish early on in his career.

8.) Zach Baun – Wisconsin

Baun had a big 2019 season collecting 75 total tackles (52 solo), 19.5 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks. The big question with Baun is where he will play at the next level. He played mostly on the edge at Wisconsin, but was asked to cover at times.

At 6’2’’ and 238 pounds, many think he may transition to an off ball linebacker at the next level. Baun has plenty of athleticism and speed to play inside and showed that at the combine running a 4.65 second 40 yard dash and produced a solid 7.0 second 3-Cone drill. If Baun gets drafted to a scheme where he can play mostly off ball and still rush the passer on occasion he could be a nice IDP asset.

9.) Jordyn Brooks – Texas Tech

Brooks capped off his stellar collegiate career with an outstanding 2019 season amassing 108 total tackles and an impressive 20 tackles for loss. Brooks has all the tools needed to be an every down linebacker and was the leader of the Texas Tech defense.

The only drill he participated in at the combine was the 40, but he definitely impressed with his 4.54 second time. Brooks has the size (6’ 240 pounds), athleticism, and range teams look for.to go along with his knack for making plays behind the line. Comfortable playing in coverage, Brooks brings a three down skill set to the table which is key in IDP.

10.) David Woodward – Utah State

As a Sophomore, Woodward had a breakout season compiling 134 total tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss. He was off to another big season in 2019 with 93 total tackles in his first seven games.

Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to an undisclosed season ending injury. Woodward has very good instincts and is a sound tackler. He reacts to what he sees and gets downhill to make the play. Having said that, Woodward didn’t test overly well athletically at the combine and ran a modest 4.79 second 40 yard dash.

His injury history is another red flag, but hopefully he can show teams he’s finally fully healthy. While he may not be the most athletic linebacker of the group, he’s plenty athletic and his superb instincts make up for what he may lack.

As always, feel free to reach me on Twitter with any questions or feedback you may have.

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