Here is the third set of final position rankings for the 2023 NFL draft: the linebackers. Before the season started this looked to be a weak group. Nothing has really happened this season to change that outlook.
As always, I will be listing players at their expected NFL positions. Be sure to check out my previous mid-season rankings, and if you want to check out the draft database that I help update almost daily, you can find it at risendraft.
2023 NFL Draft Linebackers: The Top 5
- Trenton Simpson, Clemson: Simpson is a freak athlete at 6’2 235 with 4.43 speed. He played almost like a slot defender in 2021 and really flashed as a blitzer with 31 pressures and seven sacks. He slid over to WLB for 2022 and has shown improvement in his run fits. He is already a solid cover guy, as well. In a stronger class, he probably goes somewhere in the late 1st, but he will probably go top 20-ish in 2023.
- Noah Sewell, Oregon: Sewell, the brother of Penei, is a throwback type of linebacker that we have not seen in awhile. He is 6’1 1/2 246 and explosive. He is really good in a straight line. It’s when he has to move side-to-side where he has some issues, evidenced by his 7.28 3 cone drill. That shows up in some of his issues in coverage. He is also a very good blitzer. 52 pressures and six sacks in the last two years.
- Henry To’o To’o, Alabama: Athletic transfer from Tennessee. His play and hype didn’t match up until this season. He was pretty average his first three seasons. He is a bit undersized at 227, and doesn’t play with a lot of power — although he does try and play physical. His tackling can be inconsistent. His play in coverage improved a lot in 2022. To’o To’o is an instinctual player.
- SirVocea Dennis, Pittsburgh: At 6’0 226, he is on the smaller side. He flashed his potential in 2020 and 2021, but wasn’t able to be consistent with his run defense and his instincts in coverage. The former Panther took off in 2022. He became an elite run defender and has finally started to play more consistent in coverage. Dennis can also be an effective blitzer with 55 pressures and 16 sacks in the last two seasons.
- Drew Sanders, Arkansas: Sanders is an interesting prospect. He is a former five-star recruit who transferred from Alabama, and has played both as an edge rusher and off ball linebacker, but linebacker looks to be his future in the NFL. His play was pretty uneven until 2022. He played good run defense and had 39 pressures and 11 sacks. Sanders has good size at 6’4 235 and solid athleticism.
2023 NFL Draft Linebackers: Best of the Rest
6. Jack Campbell, Iowa: Campbell has been a well-known name in draft circles since 2020. He had a bit of a break out season then and was expected to come out in the 2022 draft. He didn’t play as well in 2021 though, and that might have gone into his decision. The thing with Campbell is his flaws aren’t something that will go away. The former Hawkeye tested really well, but his on field athleticism is middling and he lacks explosion when he tries to click-and-close. His instincts are solid and he is really good in coverage. The former Hawkeye is also a solid run defender.
7. Nick Herbig, Wisconsin: Herbig has been a pass rusher for Wisconsin, but due to his size (6’21 240), and short arms (31 1/4) he is going to have to move to off-ball. We could see him being used like Zach Baun. He can be used as a rusher on obvious passing downs like 3rd and long. He has been a good run defender despite his size. Herbig has shown a big improvement in coverage in 2022 preparing him for his move.
8. Daiyan Henley, Washington State: Henley is a bit on the smaller side at 6’1 225, but is athletic and ran a 4.54 as his pro day. He started out at Nevada and actually came in as a safety. His safety back round shows in his ability to move from side to side and in coverage. The former Cougar is a little bit older, but has shown he still has some upside having played safety his first three seasons.
9. Dorian Williams, Tulane: Williams is another undersized but athletic ‘backer at almost 6’1 228, but with 4.49 speed. He really came on in 2020, but had a little bit of a down season in 2021, before exploding in 2022. The former Green Wave played really well all around, he even had 2 interceptions and 22 pressures and six sacks.
10. Yasir Abdullah, Louisville: Abdullah played a lot of 3-4 outside linebacker in college, but will be transitioning to off ball linebacker. He has seen snaps as a slot defender, and as a off ball linebacker. At 6’1 237 and 32″ arms he is a better fit as a linebacker who can blitz on 3rd downs. The former Cardinal has been a good run defender and even has show potential in coverage with two interceptions this past season.