Linebacker rankings for 2024 NFL Draft, sorted by best available players

The 2024 NFL Draft features a crop of intriguing values at linebacker. The class may not produce a first-round pick, but expect plenty of instant contributors to be drafted on Day 2 and beyond. NFL general managers will locate talent in the mid-to-late rounds. How each prospect performs at the next level remains to be seen, but envisioning the emergence of several long-term starters from this year’s draft is a realistic outcome.

SB Nation polled several of its draft analysts to determine a consensus top 10 linebackers in the 2024 NFL Draft.

10. Ty’Ron Hopper, Missouri

Hopper was extremely productive at Missouri after transferring to the program from Florida. He totaled 133 tackles, 20 for a loss, eight pass breakups, and 5.5 sacks for the Tigers across two seasons. Hopper is instinctive and rangy with necessary athleticism to develop into a three-down linebacker. Lower-body explosion was evident at the NFL Combine through a 36-inch vertical and 10-foot-4 broad jump.

9. Marist Liufau, Notre Dame

Liufau pairs a high football I.Q. and instincts for the position with closing speed and versatility. Acclaimed Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman and his defensive coordinator Al Golden trusted Liufau to play the “MIKE” position in their defense. Liufau triggers downhill with a sense of decisiveness on tape. He also played in coverage for Notre Dame, totaling four passes defended and an interception. Athleticism in the open field and overall play strength to disengage from blocks have been a concern.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 03 Reese’s Senior Bowl

Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

8. Trevin Wallace, Kentucky

Wallace is among the more athletic linebackers in the class. The Georgia native ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the third-fastest result recorded by any linebacker in attendance. Wallace also placed second in the vertical (37.5 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-7) drills. On the field, Wallace took a significant step forward this past campaign, recording career-highs in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (5.0). Wallace is prone to over-pursuing, but the baseline traits of a high-level starter are present.

7. Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State

The unheralded leader of the Buckeyes defense, Eichenberg was a two-time team captain at Ohio State. An extremely productive run defender, Eichenberg accumulated 256 tackles as a three-year primary starter. Eichenberg ran great agility drills at the combine via a 4.24 shuttle and 7.02 3-cone, but overall athleticism, change of direction ability, and man-coverage skills are weaknesses on tape.

6. Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington

Ranked anywhere from No. 3 to 11 on our ballots, there was a wide spread of opinions on Ulofoshio. The former Husky won the NFL Combine, finishing first among all linebackers in the vertical (39.5 inches) and broad jump (10-foot-8). Ulofoshio was arguably the most important defender on a Washington Huskies program that advanced to the National Championship, placing second on the team in tackles (94).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 18 North Carolina at Clemson

Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

5. Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson

Trotter’s ballots were divisive. While he received one fourth-place vote, another ballot placed him all the way down at 13th. Trotter is today’s linebacker with impressive instincts and production (192 career tackles), but his 10th percentile height (6-0) and 11th percentile weight (228 pounds), per MockDraftable, are cause for concern when it comes to shedding blocks at the next level.

4. Cedric Gray, North Carolina

Gray nabbed one second-place vote, but every other voter placed him fourth or lower. Gray was a super-productive second-level defender for the Tar Heels, recording 100-plus tackles in three consecutive campaigns. Gray possesses the sideline-to-sideline range and speed required to cover a ton of grass on short notice.

3. Payton Wilson, NC State

Wilson received more second-place votes than any linebacker, but he finished third overall due to placing lower on other ballots. Medical checks will be crucial to determining Wilson’s draft-weekend stock after he suffered a slew of injuries in his past, including a season-ending shoulder injury in 2021. Wilson was fully healthy and productive in 2023, recording a career-high 138 tackles.

Athleticism was on display at the NFL Combine, too. Wilson finished first among his position group in the 40 (4.43). Wilson possesses All-Pro potential if he stays healthy.

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan

Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

2. Junior Colson, Michigan

All of Colson’s votes fell between two and four, which allowed him to sneak ahead of Wilson. Colson is among the twitchiest, quickest linebackers in the class. He possesses a legitimate opportunity to be the first linebacker drafted. Colson’s instincts in coverage are outstanding. NFL defensive coordinators will rest comfortably while deploying Colson in man and zone coverage schemes. Athleticism should allow Colson to develop into a three-linebacker.

1. Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

Cooper finished as our unanimous top linebacker. Cooper is a smooth operator and easy mover with the length and explosiveness required to make sideline-to-sideline plays. Cooper’s 34-inch arms allow him to stack and shed would-be blockers with relative ease. Cooper triggers downhill with an aggressive, violent mindset. In coverage, Cooper utilizes smarts and athleticism to thrive as a middle-of-field defender.

Cooper should be drafted in the latter half of the first round, or early into the 30’s in the second round.

This post was originally published on this site