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2024 Draft Preview - Inside Linebackers

Jon Cooper
12/28/2023 3:05PM ET

1. Trotter Jr,  Jeremiah* 

Clemson  6000, 230

Two year starter, Hainesport, NJ. Second team All-ACC and second team All-America in 2022. Trotter is an instinctive and versatile inside linebacker prospect who fits what NFL teams look for in an off-the-ball linebacker. Outstanding agility his strengths are playing in space and coverage. He shows extreme quickness getting to the perimeter on outside runs and has outstanding range in pursuit. Gets to tackles across the field that most can’t get to. Has excellent change of direction and stop-start quickness. He avoids blocks in pursuit and flashes hand usage on the move. In coverage he gets solid depth in zone drops, balances multiple receivers on high/low routes. Quick to plant and drive with the ball in the air and creates problems for quarterbacks with his ability to close off throwing lanes. He can match most backs out of the backfield and take a tight end up the field. Mirror ability in man coverage is very good.  Not the most physical take on guy and hand usage is suspect. He can give ground on plays at him. Will need to develop better stack and shed ability. May need the right scheme but skill set will fit.


2. Carter, Barrett*  

Clemson 6010  225

Two year starter, Suwanee, GA. Consensus first team All-ACC in 2022. Instinctive linebacker with extreme quickness in read and react. Plays with high energy and a non-stop motor. He’s sudden to change directions and shows sideline to sideline range in pursuit. Consistently out runs or rips through block attempts chasing to the perimeter. On inside reads is disciplined to fit inside gaps and is quick getting downhill. He can explode through an open window to make plays in the backfield. Quick at the snap as a blitzer, he’s adept at avoiding blocks and chasing in the backfield. Consistently adjusts path to quarterback’s movement. Normally gathers and squares up tackles with an explosive strike, wrap and drive. Outstanding in coverage with vision to see and balance multiple threats. Sudden to break with the ball in the air he closes throwing lanes creating issues for quarterback reads. Has the ability to mirror a shifty back and the speed to take an inside receiver up the field. Has some trouble with straight up blocks inline. He will take a bad angle at times and miss a tackle by leaving his feet and going too low. Elite prospect.


3. Gray, Cedric

North Carolina  6017  230

Three year starter, Charlotte, NC. Solid length and size for a linebacker. Has played Mike at North Carolina but listed as a Will this season. He’s been the leader of the defense. An aggressive, instinctive player working in-line with excellent inside run fits. Quick with read and react there is no wasted movement when he sees it. He plays downhill and is adept at taking open windows in blocking schemes. Strong at the point of attack he has the ability to separate from and shed straight up or angle blocks. Plays with outstanding leverage and knee bend and can square up in the hole using quick hands to come off a block and make a play. He also slips blocks in pursuit without losing angle to the ball. Squares up, wraps and drives through tackles both in-line and in the alley. Shows blitz skill anticipating snap and getting through an inside gap. Solid zone defender with depth in his drop and vision to see multiple threats. Finds the throwing lane consistently. Has ability to match backs on flat and wheel routes in man cover. Shows occasional hesitation in coverage at times and depth of drop suffers.


4. Eichenberg, Tommy  

Ohio State  6022  236

Two year starter, Cleveland, OH.  First team All-Big 10 and consensus second team All-America in 2022. Ideal size for the position he displays athleticism, a high motor and a physical presence. He’s instinctive and quick with read and react. Consistently locates the ball and gets downhill in a hurry. He can beat a block to the point of attack. Has sideline to sideline range with consistent angles to the ball. Adept at working laterally and squaring up ball carriers in the alley. Strong hands he takes on blocks aggressively with powerful knee bend. Quick to separate and shed on the move he shows a sense of urgency to get to the ball. Powerful tackler he gathers to balance quickly and drives through tackles. Used more often to blitz than cover he’s quick anticipating an inside gap and is aggressive getting up field. Solid to chase scrambling quarterbacks.  Flashes cover skill in zone schemes.  Shows a burst breaking with the ball in the air and receivers need to be aware of his presence. He normally makes the right reads but occasionally gets on the wrong side of a block. Has three down potential.


5. Jacobs, Curtis

Penn State  6017  235

Three year starter, Glen Burnie, MD. Honorable mention All-Big 10 in 2021 and 2023. Listed as a Sam in the Penn State defense Jacobs aligns in multiple spots based on formation. He is used as an overhang player, on the ball and stack linebacker. He has improved greatly in his three seasons and shows flashes of being an every down NFL Will linebacker. Shows short area agility and has the speed to chase across the field in pursuit. Plays with leverage and knee bend and shows improving inside run fits. Flashes hand usage to separate from blocks. Shows suddenness taking an open window and can make plays in the backfield. Solid blitz skill both inside and off the edge with snap quickness to get in the backfield and chase down a quarterback. He’s a secure tackler and is consistent in space. In coverage he shows awareness to balance multiple threats and range to close throwing lanes. Solid to match backs out of the backfield and can take an inside receiver up the seam. Needs consistency in hand usage as he can be slow to shoot hands. Can easily be washed out by a powerful blocker.


6.  Hopper, Ty’Ron

Missouri  6020  221


7.  Colson, Junior*

Michigan  6030  237


8.  Ford, Jaylan

Texas  6023  232


9. Cooper, Edgerrin*

Texas A&M   6030  230


10. Njongmeta, Maema

Wisconsin  5117  238


11.  Mondon Jr, Smael 

Georgia  6030  225


12.  Muasau, Darius

UCLA  6010  230


13.  Dumas-Johnson, Jamon

Georgia  6010  245


14.  Stutsman, Danny* 

Oklahoma  6040  241


15.  Bywater, Ben

BYU  6024  232


16.  Coleman, Khari

Mississippi  6012  213


17.  Liufau, Marist

Notre Dame  6020  226


18. Higgins, Jay

Iowa  6020  233


19.  Gibbs, Easton

Wyoming  6003  232


20.  Wilson, Payton

North Carolina State  6041  238


21.  Bertrand, JD

Notre Dame  6010  230


22.  Ulofoshio, Edefuan

Washington 6003  238


23.  Speights, Omar

LSU  6001  239


24.  Mauigoa, Francisco*

Miami  6030  230


25.  Magee, Jordan

Temple  6030  220


26.  Casey, Aaron

Indiana  6006  231


27.  Marshall, Trezmen

Alabama, 6000 232


28.  Mitchell, Jackson

Connecticut,  6016


29.  Gant, Dallas

Toledo  6036  230


30.  Cobb, Mason

USC  6000  230  231


31.  Chambers, Steele

Ohio State, 6007  222


32.  Barrett, Michael

Michigan, 5112,  238


*Denotes underclassmen