The 2021 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is getting prepared now for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here is the 2022 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Linebackers.
Nakobe Dean, Georgia Bulldogs
Dean was an Under Armour All-American out of high school and like a lot of other good recruits, decided to play for the Georgia Bulldogs. He saw the field sparingly as a freshman in 2019 with 25 total tackles. Dean became a starter in 2020 and produced. He finished the season with 71 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. With his help, Georgia was able to win the Peach Bowl.
At 6-foot and 220 pounds, Dean is undersized for a linebacker. He needs to add strength to his frame because he has had trouble getting off blocks to make plays. Teams will love his athletic upside, as he has good speed. Dean can run down ball carriers from across the field and has shown some strengths in both man and zone coverage. In the NFL, he can fill the role of a new age linebacker because of his size and athleticism.
Christian Harris, Alabama Crimson Tide
As a four-star recruit out of Louisiana, Harris left the state to play for the Crimson Tide. He was able to earn a starting spot as a freshman for the Crimson Tide. Harris delivered with 61 total tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. In 2020, Harris stepped up even more with 79 total tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. His play was key for the Crimson Tide to go undefeated and win the National Championship.
He has decent size for a linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds. Harris has the athletic tools to be a great prospect, as he has solid speed and body control. His strength allows him to shed blocks and make plays in the running game. If Harris wants to cement himself as the best linebacker in the class, he’ll need to take better angles to the football and show better coverage instincts.
Devin Lloyd, Utah Utes
Lloyd was a high school safety out of California and signed on to play for Utah. He redshirted his first year on campus and then played on special teams in 2018. For the 2019 season, Lloyd was an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 performer with 91 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. In the 2020 season, Lloyd had 48 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks in five games played, as Utah had a short season.
The roving linebacker has good enough size for the NFL at 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds. Because of his experience as a safety, he is solid in coverage for a linebacker and uses his eyes well when in zone coverage. He had some success as a blitzer as well, but needs to continue to work on shedding blocks and getting to the ball carrier to really improve.
Ventrell Miller, Florida Gators
Miller was a solid recruit out of Florida and decided to stay in state to play for the Gators. He was suspended for much of his freshman season and redshirted. As a redshirt freshman, Miller was able to play a little bit, as he totaled 15 tackles. In the 2019 season, Miller took over a starting role and racked up 55 tackles, 5.5 tackles and 3.5 sacks. For 2020, he had 86 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, as Florida made the Cotton Bowl.
He stands 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, which won’t make him the biggest linebacker in the league. Miller uses his eye well against the run and can get off of blocks decently well. He isn’t the most athletic linebacker and can lose men in coverage, especially while playing zone. Miller needs to tighten up his coverage in 2021, but he could be one of the first linebackers selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington Huskies
While he is from Alaska, Ulofoshio played high school football in Nevada and signed with the Huskies. He played in three games as a freshman, but redshirted. As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Ulofoshio had 47 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. Washington only played four games in 2020, but Ulofoshio had 47 total tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss and 1.0 sack.
The Honorable Mention All-American by several outlets is 6-foot and 230 pounds, which is good enough for the NFL. He flies around the field and has a good nose for the football. Ulofoshio gets through traffic and can run down ball carriers well. He’ll need to continue to prove himself in coverage and get more reps in since Washington only played four games in 2020.
Other Draft Prospects
Kuony Deng, Cal Golden Bears- Deng has insane measurables for a linebacker at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds. If he can cover consistently this season, he will rise up draft boards.
Mike Jones Jr., LSU Tigers- Jones saw limited playing time for Clemson over the last three seasons, but now will get an opportunity to play on an LSU defense that has some solid players.
Nate Landman, Colorado Buffaloes- Teams looking for a tackling machine should look in Landman’s direction. The senior already has two seasons with 100 tackles and could have another one this year.
Mike Rose, Iowa State Cyclones- Rose is a big linebacker who specializes in stopping the run, but he also had five interceptions in 2020. Another big year for Iowa State and Rose could result in him being drafted within the first few rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Make sure to check out our brand new NFL Draft page for more content!