2021 NFL Draft- Middle Linebackers
Micah Parsons, JR, Penn State
Some consider Parsons a can't miss prospect, but others are more hesitant. On the surface, he's a perfect linebacker with the size and power of old school players and the speed and athleticism of today's top linebackers. However, he really only has one year as a college starter after sitting out this year, and there are some questions about him off the field.
Nick Bolton, JR, Missouri
You might not know Bolton yet, but you should. He's a little shorter than most linebackers, but he's just as strong and very quick. He may not be the best in coverage, but he has incredible instincts and does not miss tackles. Teams should be high on him, and he should come off the board in round two or round three.
Dylan Moses, SR, Alabama
Moses decided to return to school after not liking his draft evaluation last year. Back then, he was a fringe first-rounder/likely second-rounder and one of the best linebackers in the class. He wanted to prove he could return from injury and secure a first round spot. Instead, his performance was not what he had hoped. Moses was still a clearly capable player, but the roster turnover may have influenced what he was asked to do. He's still a good player, but other MLB's have passed him.
Jamin Davis, SR, Kentucky
Perhaps no one's stock is rising faster than Davis, who has drawn some comparisons to Colts All-Pro Darius Leonard. Davis is definitely noticeable on the Kentucky defense. He started 11 games in three years, amassing 144 tackles with five interceptions. He has unique athleticism and coverage ability for a middle linebacker and could be a first round pick.
Paddy Fisher, SR, Northwestern
Fisher had an up and down college career. For his first two years, he was considered one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten and even the country. He ran down ball carriers with ease and made big plays in coverage. Yet, in 2019, he took some steps back, He wasn't as quick and could not cover as well. 2020 was a better year for him, but I still didn't quite see the Fisher of old. Teams will have to figure out what they would be getting. A return to form could make Fisher a steal for a team.
Buddy Johnson, SR, Texas A&M
Johnson is underrated in my book. I watch Texas A&M and he pops on the tape. Could use some improvement in coverage and probably fits better in the 80s or 90s, but he's a very capable player in the middle of the defense. Give him a shot and I think he can succeed.
Jabril Cox, SR, LSU
Cox transferred to LSU after being a multi-year FCS All American at North Dakota State. Despite a disappointing season from the Tigers as a whole, Cox was one of their best defenders. He may not have been an All-American again, but he didn't look lost at all. He's one of the faster linebackers in this class and has some of the best pass coverage abilities.
Tuf Borland, SR, Ohio State
Borland is probably a Day 3 prospect but had a tremendously productive college career with 180 tackles. Played in 42 straight games and was a team captain. Solid player off the field and needs to improve in coverage. He's not overly quick and faces frequent mismatches. He'll have to show some capability in coverage to become a defensive contributor in the NFL. Will likely start out as a key special teamer.
KJ Britt, SR, Auburn
Britt is a bigger linebacker with great tackling ability and decent pass coverage skills for his listed size. He's not long, which could hurt him, but he makes plays. Attacks the ball but needs to have better recognition and shed blocks. Could also improve some in coverage. Special teamer at first with possibility to develop into starter. Look for him in 5th or 6th round.
Derrick Barnes, SR, Purdue
Barnes has worked his way up to a 3rd round prospect. Big time tackler with ability to get to the quarterback. Versatile enough to play a variety of linebacker spots. Fits in many different schemes, while teams will have to decide where to play him. Can be an edge rusher in a 3-4 scheme as well.
Zane Zandier, SR, Virginia
Zandier plays well, has good instincts, and can tackle with the best of them. However, he is small for a linebacker and not all that athletic. He is a former safety and it shows in his coverage ability. That alone may be enough for someone to draft him late or sign him as a priority free agent. He has work to do but could be a surprise player down the road. Another guy who can contribute on special teams as well.
Monty Rice, JR, Georgia
Rice could have declared last year but decided to return to school. All-SEC player and former team Defensive MVP. Played both inside and outside backer and was better in the middle. Decent enough in coverage to stay on the field but may face some matchups where he should be considered more of a two-down linebacker. Good instincts and smart player who could go as high as round 2 and as low as round 5.
Max Richardson, SR, Boston College
All-ACC player with nearly 100 tackles in each season. Decent size for an NFL linebacker but lacks desired length. A little slow to make reads and not overly quick or athletic. Production is there and could be a late round pick, although some experts never even mention him.
Chazz Surratt, SR, North Carolina
Surratt is a former quarterback who only played two years on defense in college. He is still raw and learning the position but has shown good progress and clearly has the smarts for the position. His size and athletic profile make him an ideal outside linebacker and he could play the middle in nickel packages or if he adds some weight.
Amen Ogbongmiga, SR, Oklahoma State
Possible late round pick with god athleticism and sure tackling. Two-time all-conference player who led team in TFL in 2019. Has promise if he can get better at shedding blocks and reading run plays. Good speed and motor. Needs improvement in coverage. Some teams should see traits with which to work.
Nick Niemann, JR, Iowa
Day 3 player and one of the best tacklers in the Big Ten. Great measurables for a pro MLB. Niemann is long and faster than you think but doesn't have the strength to fit his build. Should be able to improve in pass coverage and is a special teamer at worst.