2016 NFL Draft top 5 Inside Linebackers
1).Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
Height: 6-1. Weight: 247. Arm: 32.
40 Time: 4.72.
While Ragland is not a great athlete he has the best instincts of any inside linebacker in this draft,He is also very tough and brings a real physical presence to the middle of the defense. At the Senior Bowl, Ragland was heavier, but he still moved well with a better than expected performance in pass coverage. His impressive week of practice likely secured him as a top-25 pick.
Ragland has demonstrated versatility as he rushed off the edge as a defensive end in obvious passing downs while also showing improved coverage skills in pass defense. Ragland performed well against good receiving tight ends from Ole Miss (Evan Engram) and Arkansas (Hunter Henry). He made good open-field tackles and picked up receivers well in zone coverage.
2). Jaylon Smith, ILB/OLB, Notre Dame
Height: 6-2. Weight: 223. Arm: 33.
Projected 40 Time: 4.60.
Smith suffered torn knee ligaments – ACL and MCL – in the Fiesta Bowl that could cause him to miss the 2016 season. In 2015, he totaled 113 tackles, nine for a loss, one sack, four passes broken up and one forced fumble – he was robbed of one by the official scorer.
Assuming Smith eventually returns to full health, he looks like a future three-down starter who is capable of stuffing the run and covering ground in pass coverage. He is quick, instinctive and consistent. Smith has a burst to the ball quickly and is a good tackler. For pass coverage, he can cover a lot of ground in zone and can play man coverage on tight ends and backs. I believe when healthy he may be better than Ragland, still teams have to be concerned picking somebody in the first round and him possibly not being able to play the 2016 season.
3). Beniquez Brown, ILB, Mississippi State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 229. Arm: 31.38.
40 Time: 4.77.
Probably a second or third round pick that will have a long productive career. Brown had an impressive season for the Bulldogs and was a tough defender in the middle of their defense. In 2015, he totaled 99 tackles with 11 for a loss, four sacks, two passes broken up and an interception. Brown had 62 and 39 tackles as a sophomore and freshman, respectively.
4). Scooby Wright III, ILB/OLB, Arizona
Height: 6-0. Weight: 239. Arm: 30.5.
40 Time: 4.90.
Injuries destroyed his 2015 season, question is will teams be scared away because of his injury problems? Wright had a slow 40 time in Indianapolis and didn’t impress at his pro day, but he is a pure football player who is short on the physical skill set. Wright has good instincts with a combination of pass rush and run defense, though teams feel that he could be short on size and speed for the next level.
5). Josh Forrest, ILB, Kentucky
Height: 6-3. Weight: 249. Arm: 32.88. Hand 9.5.
40 Time: 4.91.
My surprise pick at this position, he is a big thumper in the middle that has decent coverage skills, could make an impact in the right situation. Probably a third or fourth round draft choice.