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Top 5 LB in 2024 NFL Draft

First I would like to just say that I don’t view any of these Linebackers as studs. None of these LB’s will be a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft like Roquan Smith or Devin White. Now, that does not simply mean to dismiss this rookie class, as it is fairly comparable to the 2023 LB class. Though Jack Campbell (Iowa) did go in round 1 to the Lions at 1.18, most analyst did not project him to be a 1st round pick.

That said, I do not expect any of these LB’s to go in round 1, but perhaps with a good combine and Pro Day, a LB like Edgerrin Cooper of Texas A&M could slide into round 1.Some rumors out there that the Cowboys are interested in Cooper as high as their 1st round pick, 24th overall.

1) Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M, 6’3” 230 pounds – Cooper was a 4 star recruit out of Covington, LA who is a redshirt Junior. Cooper had solid production in 2021 and 2022, but really shined in 2023 with 84 tackles, 17 TFL’s, 2 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. This production was enough to earn Cooper 1st team All- SEC honors. Cooper looks to translate into a solid MLB position. While his size used to be considered small for a MLB, the NFL is changing now too, as many smaller RB’s and WR’s are having more and more success, defenders must become smaller and quicker too.

2) Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson, 6’0” 230 pounds – This name might look familiar to many of you, as his father, Jeremiah Trotter Sr., was also a LB who played for 12 seasons in the NFL. So he has NFL bloodlines. Like Cooper, another smaller LB built for today’s NFL. His father played at 262 pounds. This shows how much the NFL has changed in 1 generation. Trotter is an early declare in the NFL Draft, playing only 3 seasons at Clemson, his final 2 seasons as a starter. He was productive his final season with 88 tackles, 15 TFL’s, 5.5 sacks, 2 INT’s, 5 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles. Like Cooper, Trotter also profiles as a 3 down MLB in the NFL.

3) Junior Colson, Michigan, 6’3” 247 pounds – Colson is another early declare, true Junior, 4 star recruit out of Brentwood, TN. 95 tackles, 2 TFL’s, 2 pass breakups. Though Colson is bigger than the top 2 LB’s here, do not be fooled, he is as fast sideline to sideline as any LB in this draft class. He is very athletic for his size, with great burst where he can close ground quickly. He is very aggressive and has good instincts, though at times his aggressiveness can be used against him in misdirection. He also will translate to a 3 down LB in the NFL, though with his size, he may transition more to an OLB position in a 3-4 defense. That does not mean that he cannot play MLB.

4) Payton Wilson, North Carolina State, 6’4” 234 pounds – Wilson is an intriguing prospect, who could wind up being the top LB in this class. He is a bit older than the other LB’s here, and will turn 24 years old just before the 2024 NFL Draft. He has some medical concerns, as he has had some injury history during his 6 years at NC State. However, on the positive side, his stats in 2023 are amazing. 138 tackles, 17.5 TFL’s, 6 sacks, 3 INT’s, 6 passes defended, 1 FF, 2 FR. These stats were good enough to earn Wilson the Butkus award as the nation’s top collegiate LB. Due to his age and injury history, his NFL outlook is not as clear as the other LB’s in this group, though due to his performance in 2023, he should NOT be overlooked.

5) Cedric Gray, North Carolina, 6’2” 232 pounds – Gray is another 4 star recruit out of Charlotte, NC. He is a Senior, who has been very productive over the past 2 seasons, racking up well over 100 tackles each year. He had 121 tackles, 11 TFL’s, 5 sacks, 1 INT, 4 pass breakups, 2 FF, 2 FR in 2023 season. Though he has been a very productive tackler, he has also had some issues with missed tackles, averaging 19 missed tackles/year. Some of this is due to footwork, as he sometimes leaves his feet when he doesn’t need to. He can transition into a 3 down LB in the NFL if he works a bit on his technique.

Honorable Mentions: Jaylan Ford, Texas, 6’3” 242 pounds

Marist Liufau, Notre Dame, 6’2” 239 pounds

Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State, 6’2” 239 pounds

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