May 12, 2021

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2021 NFL Draft Inside Linebacker Rankings

by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
March 28th, 2021

1) Micah Parsons, Penn State; Ht: 6-3 Wt: 245

In a world of sports where specialization is becoming king, Micah Parsons is a linebacker who has risen to the top of his class by being great across the board. Parsons has very impressive movement, combining fluidity and quickness, resulting in extremely good pursuit of the football. The player penetrates well, sheds well, never misses a tackle, and moves around blockers like they’re set in concrete. Parsons is the best inside linebacker in this class by quite a distance.

2) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 215

As his size might indicate, Owusu-Koramoah excels more due to his speed instead of his physicality. Despite the smaller frame, though, the Notre Dame product is a fantastic inside linebacker and led a very talented Irish defense to an extremely nice season. The player is extremely quick and fast and his shiftiness helps him remain untouched by potential blockers. Owusu-Koramoah lines up all over the field and does an extremely good job in coverage and even though he’s a smaller player, he gets into the backfield regularly. I do have concerns about his size at the next level but ultimately feel like it won’t be too much of a problem.

3) Chazz Surratt, North Carolina; Ht: 6-2 Wt: 225

My favorite player to watch at inside linebacker this season was Chazz Suratt. The player is a converted quarterback with great sense for the game and fantastic physical attributes, and his film reflected that. Though he may be blown up by some of the bigger players in the NFL, Surratt still plays downhill, hitting holes hard with good speed and strength. Surratt gives a lot of effort which blends well with his high IQ. The player positions well and recognizes plays quickly which helped him become one of the best players in his position despite being late to the party.

4) Dylan Moses, Alabama; Ht: 6-3 Wt: 240

Moses could have been a first round pick last season if he decided to head into the draft. Instead, he came back after missing the season with an injury, led the Alabama defense to a Championship, and will still be a high pick regardless. His stock has certainly dropped as his strength and pursuit have suffered after the injury, but there’s still a ton to love about this player. Moses is an extremely adept spy of both the quarterback and running backs and his speed is fantastic. His coverage is good thanks to his speed and his decisiveness and quickness make him a very strong tackler. I would like to see him improve his reads, but that will improve at the next level naturally.

5) Monty Rice, Georgia; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 235

I’ve talked a lot about the faceless Georgia players in the past, about guys who don’t make a lot of headlines but end up getting drafted very high and being producers in the NFL, but Monty Rice isn’t necessarily one of those players. Rice was really exciting for Georgia all season and his versatility made him a very well known player. Rice did everything a coach could ask for and did all of it well. Rice hits extremely hard and tackles efficiently. Additionally, he’s excellent in coverage and is probably the best in that category in this class. There’s a lot this player can do and a creative defensive coordinator could make great use of him.

6) Nick Bolton, Missouri; Ht: 6-0 Wt: 232

If you want someone who’s just going to soak up tackles, Nick Bolton is your guy. Missouri’s field general was Bolton and all he did was make plays. The player sheds blockers well to make tackles and reads well in part because he always keeps good sight lines. Bolton gets good penetration when he is sent to blitz, though if he’s squared up by an offensive lineman he’ll likely be driven. Bolton’s speed is fine but he still does well in coverage because he’s such an intelligent player, especially when he drops to an outside zone position. I love the prospects of this player.

7) Cameron McGrone, Michigan; Ht: 6-1 Wt: 236

Michigan’s Cameron McGrone isn’t necessarily a large player, but he’s an extremely strong and impactful one regardless. McGrone blitzes well and is a blur around the edge, but even if he is caught he’s strong enough to push an offensive tackle backwards, a huge deal for an inside linebacker. He hits hard, tracks well, and makes good decisions, all good attributes for a player of his ilk. Despite the upside, there are a could of improvements I would like to see, all movement related. His straight-line speed and quickness could both improve and he sometimes has trouble sorting his way out of traffic, so those attributes could improve, but the player is still a very good pick.

8) Pete Werner, Ohio State; Ht: 6-3 Wt: 242

Ohio State linebackers can be overlooked because their defensive line and secondary are so often filled with great players, but Pete Werner is a name you’ll want to keep tabs on. He’s not the physical specimen that a lot of players are, but he does have good speed and quickness that allowed him to stay effective and post decent numbers. Werner might struggle against offensive linemen considering he wasn’t a great blitzer in college, but he plays very well on his side of the line of scrimmage. He covers tight ends well on passing downs and is a fantastic pursuer of the football. The player is smart and because of his decent speed, he’s a very talented player in space.

9) Jabril Cox, LSU; Ht: 6-4 Wt: 231

Cox is one of the remnants from the 2019 LSU team that blew college football away and while his flaws were exposed without the great players from that team around him, he’s still a great player. I have concerns about strength with his long frame, but he rarely engages with players larger than him so it isn’t a big deal. Cox might be more of a Cash which would make him more of a specialist for teams, but he plays that role very well. He covers pass catchers very well and is very good in man, though his zone doesn’t lack either. Cox reads the ball well and has very good timing and intelligence which helped him become a ball hawk and will give him a bit of an advance in the pros. Cox is a raw talent but there’s a lot of good attributes to be used.

10) Paddy Fisher, Northwestern; Ht: 6-4 Wt: 240

Fisher could have been drafted last season but decided to stay at Northwestern for a final season and his draft stock rose because of it. Fisher was a bruiser for the Wildcats, a traditional inside linebacker who sought out the football and demolished everything in his path. He hits extremely hard, standing up most of the runners he hits, but still tackles efficiently and effectively. Fisher is a very intelligent football player and reads the game well, often resulting in plays being made or interceptions. However, Fisher is not a fast player and that can be exploited by a team that gets defenders going side to side. Regardless, Fisher can play zone, force turnovers, make tackles, and blow up the run, and there will always be room for the player in the NFL.

Other Draft Material

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Mock Draft 1.0
Mock Draft 2.0
Mock Draft 3.0: All Offense
Mock Draft 3.1: All Defense
Mock Draft 4.0
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