1. Reggie Ragland (Alabama): He’s what you refer too as a do it all type of linebacker. His stats for the champion Crimson Tide also were impressive. He finished second on the team with 95 tackles and was third in tackles for loss with 10.5. He has the blend of size, speed, aggression and open field tackling to play in multiple defensive packages, especially a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme especially. I like how he works well off blocks with balance and anticipation. He doesn’t wait for a blocker to come to him, he always gets to where he wants first. He’s a physical striker with above average skills in the open field meaning he can hit, tackle, drive and finish.
2. Kentrell Brothers (Missouri): He was a weak-side linebacker in Missouri’s 4-3 scheme and would play in the middle in nickel formations. He’s a high-volume tackler. He can process the action on the field with above average instincts for the position. He’s very smart and reads things very well before the snap as he’s able to recognize formations and anticipate play-calls. He’s excellent when it comes to breaking down blockers in the open field. He’s a physical player that is very aggressive with hands to stack and shed blockers and also displays lateral agility when blitzing. He’s also an impact player on special teams. He blocked three kicks in 2015. He’s a very tough football player as he’s played through pain more than one time.
3. Tyler Matakevich (Temple): He was the unquestioned leader of the Temple Owls who put together a very nice season in 2015. When I watched the tape on him, he shows no hesitation whatsoever as he has a terrific first step when it comes to quickness and he can anticipate the play and gets to where he needs to be. What also stands out to me is his quickness and timing when blitzing and he has the footwork to complement his style of play. He’s able to drop back into coverage and swat a pass down.
4. Scooby Wright (Arizona): In 2014, he was my favorite defensive player in the country and at the time, I felt he was ready to take that next step and play at the next level. He entered 2015 as one of the best defensive players in all of college football and then he got hurt. Despite the injury, Wright decided to declare for the NFL draft. He’s very quick, instinctive and relentless. He’s a tackling machine for the position. He shows excellent timing to jump the snap count and he can squeeze through gaps with ease to attack the line of scrimmage.
5. Nick Vigil (Utah State): He’s a sudden and slippery defender with the NFL-blend of vision, awareness and athleticism. He’s also a very distinctive defender and can locate the football very quickly. He goes by what he sees and is always in attack mode. He shows great agility and balance along with closing speed to throw off blockers in space, he’s alert in defending the pass and shows fluidity in the open field to turn and change directions.