1. Eric Kendricks (UCLA)- There were so many questions about Kendricks as the combine approached especially about his athleticism. He had a great combine and that will help him significantly come draft day. He’s aggressive and quick to the football and shows great flexibility and balance. He’s a well-rounded linebacker that plays sideline to sideline and can drop back into coverage and defend the flat. Compares to Bobby Wagner of the Seahawks. Small guy but very effective and makes a lot of noise with his play than talking about it.
2. Denzel Perryman (The U)- He isn’t the tallest guy but he has the instincts and frame to play the position. He showed improved closing speed and explosiveness as a tackler in 2014. He has strong hands, agile feet, good flexibility and good burst. He’s a leader, he was voted as the captain for the defense last season. He can also cover receivers in man to man and zone coverage. Perryman will more than likely be an every down linebacker once he’s drafted.
3. Paul Dawson (TCU)- He was a very key piece to a great Horned Frogs defense. 128 tackles, five sacks, 4 interceptions and two forced fumbles was his 2014 statline. He shows great push to pursue the football and excels when it comes to shutting down the run. He can collapse the pocket and knock the football down if he’s blocked so that shows he’s capable of keeping his engine going until the play is completely done. He’s extremely active but undersized and that’s what scouts will always point out.
4. Stephone Anthony (Clemson)- He was a very key defender for Clemson in 2014. The defense was pretty much built around him. He’s a potential three-down starter that could have an immediate impact in the NFL. He’s very focused for the position. He has great vision of where he wants to make a play, good footwork and agility and can tackle a ball carrier in the open field. As a tackler, he does a good job of extending and wrapping up below the waist to finish plays which is a basic football fundamental.
5. Benardrick McKinney (Mississippi State)- He’s a very versatile athlete. His primary position is the MLB but he’s able to rush the quarterback from the edge. A great athlete for a guy of his size, he shows good lateral agility and possesses the speed to get after the ball carrier. He has long arms to reach out and make tackles. Rushes the passer and moves around to get by blockers. The one thing he must improve on is moving blockers with his hands so hand technique is a must at the next level.