By Lisa Johnson //@LJ1303
If there’s one thing this 2019 NFL draft isn’t lacking, it’s defense. The top two defensive players in this draft being edge players, this linebacker group isn’t too far behind.
Leading the pack is LSU linebacker Devin White, who according to several draft analysts, demonstrated this during his NFL combine performance. The 6’0″, 237 pounder excelled at every skill thrown his way. Teams have been told White would fit either a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme. With the ability to be a true 3 down starter, CBS Sports had this to say about White:
“White is a create-a-player type of linebacker, a chiseled 240-pounder with incendiary athleticism, hard-hitting tendencies, and scary, sideline-to-sideline speed. Both are better at delivering a major jolt to offensive linemen scraping to the second level than they are efficiently shedding them, but the physicality and aggression aspects of their games stand out in every contest. White’s tackling and coverage skills improved in 2018 but, like Jack, at times, his engine is revving so much that he arrives on the scene out of control which leads to some misses in space.”
Both ESPN NFL draft experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have White being selected 5th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“This pick is essentially devoid of any drama, and not just because the two agree. Pretty much every analyst agrees and indeed, White makes a lot of sense considering the recent departure of [linebacker] Kwon Alexander in free agency like Kiper said. There is a need there for the Bucs and White looks to be a top five player as it is, making it an easy prediction and probably the reason most draft analysts are leaning that way.” writes Buccaneers team writer Carmen Vitali.
My draft prediction: #11 Cincinnati Bengals.
The second top linebacker in this year’s draft, Michigan’s 5’11”, 234 pound linebacker Devin Bush. Many consider Bush an undersized linebacker who, had he had the size, would probably be in the #1 spot. Bush ran a very fast 40 time at 4.43.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Devin Bush going #11. “Bush isn’t far behind White as the best middle linebacker in this class. One of the prospects I picked out as a combine riser because of his workouts, Bush is always around the ball on film. The Bengals just brought back [linebacker] Preston Brown in free agency, but Bush could play any of the linebacker spots at the next level. He’s a three-down player.”
The CBS official scouting profile on Devin Bush almost mirrors that of Devin White’s. “Fantastic athlete as evidenced by his 4.43 40 at the combine. Can line up in slot to cover tight ends and shows ability to change direction when going from rush to coverage. Solid tackler who has second gear when in pursuit. Has sideline-to-sideline speed and a high motor, and is a likely first-round pick.”
With an already top heavy defense class, these two will no doubt vie for one of the top spots in the draft.
My draft prediction: #13 Miami Dolphins
Talk draft with Lisa on Twitter @LJ1303