2020 Draft: Top-5 Linebackers (Pre-Combine)

Raiders’ top needs are ranked here. These are obviously subject to change with the Combine still to take place (athletic testing matters, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (Junior): One of the five best players in the 2020 class and a no-brainer for LB1. Elite athlete coupled with elite film; moves effortlessly all over the field and can impact the game from multiple positions. He’s not Derwin James, but I’m thinking the early impact could be somewhat similar. He’s the “modern day” linebacker, and a player any smart, creative defensive coordinator would covet.

ryan, a jerry jeudy fan on Twitter

Isaiah Simmons, please, @Raiders. https://t.co/iwtnKOFeBw

Simmons does it all, and does it all at a very high level.

Patrick Queen, Louisiana State (Junior): One of the biggest risers to this point in the “process”, Queen is a plus-athlete himself, and one who’s stock is hot at the right time. He should keep things smoking with a strong Combine performance; NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein writes, “Queen is next up from LSU’s linebacker factory, possessing the same three-down ability to hunt, cover and tackle as those before him. He’s an early starter with a sky-high ceiling.”

Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State (Senior): On paper, you read the 6-2, 215, and that likely raises some flags early. While the size is not ideal, the athleticism and overall explosiveness is there which may make up for it at the next level. This is the high-ceiling play, certainly (both Fred Warner and Darius Leonard play in a similar fashion, but both also play around 230-pounds). For his size, he’s a menace off the edge.

PrimeTime Prospects™️ on Twitter

Akeem Davis-Gaither has amazing ability to pursue the ball carrier and instincts to match. I really think he has a good chance to be a tackling machine at the next level. https://t.co/yssshwj9zi

Smaller school player, listed “small” by most accounts — but plays big.

Troy Dye, Oregon (Senior): Dye has a chance to jump up to the LB3 spot with a solid outing at the Combine (I’m not sure exactly how athletic he is, despite some impressive flashes throughout his collegiate playing career). He’s also listed around 226 pounds, which may get him in trouble at the next level. Still, Raiders could sorely use his services (via PFF), “Dye is very much a modern linebacker that affects the passing game first and foremost. He’s got the length to man up with tight ends and shut down passing windows over the middle of the field.”

Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma (Junior): I’m likely lower than consensus on Murray, and I don’t feel great about, just given how obviously athletic and explosive he is or can be. There are some question marks in coverage, and as Mike Renner at PFF notes, “Murray is the type of linebacker that plays the game of football like they’ve been shot out of a cannon. That can get him in trouble at times with 50 missed tackles in his three-year career, but I’d rather teach a guy to tone it down than try to get one to speed it up.”

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


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