The ILB class this year, is as I will say it, bad. The top guys are riddled with uncertainty and are no sure things. Even at 20, any of the top 3 guys on my list feel like reaches in various ways. There is no “go get-em!” ILB prospect at the top this year. So, yes, I would advise to not trade up for a guy like Devin White. I would much rather go CB or EDGE in R1 and then address ILB later in R2 or R3 for reasons I will get into here, but I love the depth of the class.
Thus, here are my top 10 ILBs prior to the combine.
1. Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
I am calling a mea culpa. I have been preaching the fact that Mack Wilson is my de factor LB1, but man, after diving back into Devin Bush’s tape after the senior bowl and putting him through my grading scale, he graded out better than both Wilson and White.
Bush has great athleticism and is a better processor than both White and Wilson. This dude reads a play, and aside from complex false keys, is a very instinctive ILB. His gap shooting ability in run defense in particular is incredibly impressive. He has sideline-to-sideline range and lays the wood often. He is a bit rawer in coverage, but he does a good job of reading the QBs eyes to the point where he can make plays on the ball. I am a big fan of Bush. If there is a LB I want at 20, he is the guy. However, he is still working out the kinks in coverage and has a lot of trouble shedding blocks. So, what gives?
The more I watch Devin Bush the more I think that once he goes into my scale, he’s gonna be LB1. The dude just reads plays like this incredibly well. His downhill ability and range is fantastic. He’s also more polished of a processor than both White and Mack. He’s damn good. pic.twitter.com/TSbj220mHv— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 9, 2019
2. Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama
Wilson is just an incredible coverage ILB. That alone makes him valuable and will make him a starter in this league. He stacks blocks well and sheds when he needs to do it. He is a solid second level defender in that area. He also has the native athleticism to fly sideline-to-sideline and downhill. And honestly, I have not seen a LB with better ball skills than Mack Wilson since Deion Jones.
But, he is a raw processor. He is too slow to realize plays and that absolutely makes his tackle for losses falter and overall his impact falter. He does not make the “wow” play due to that. His angles are also as suspect as they come, and I don’t think he is inherently a bad tackler, but his angles make them far more difficult than they need to be.
So, he can be good, but I think 20 is reach for him.
If you are a fan of a team needing a LB and don't want Mack Wilson what are you doing. This man is a flat out beast!pic.twitter.com/bRrHO6d62T— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 27, 2019
3. Devin White, ILB, LSU
The most athletic ILB in the draft, but man, White has some serious concerns about his game. While he flies sideline-to-sideline and can be a great gap shooter on top of being a great coverage LB, all of it is mitigated by lack of ability to get off of blocks and terrible processing. He is Jarred Davis level of raw above the head. I am seriously worried about that. You do not want your ILB to not be able to process keys at all, but he often does that, and that is a serious issue.
So, while I love all the traits and potential, that floor is going to scare me away from picking him at 20. To me, he is a reach there. His horse on the other hand.......
I don't have questions on Devin White and his ability to go sideline-to-sideline. The range is certainly there. He just has to show improvements within his mental processing and ability to shed blocks. Here's an example of him getting on his horse (yes, I know what I did there) pic.twitter.com/uBuNNDFuEd— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 6, 2019
4. Terrill Hanks, ILB, New Mexico State
This is my draft crush right here. Hanks is a converted safety who flies! I would not be shocked to see this guy run in the 4.4s. His processing is raw, as he is a converted safety, but it showed consistent improvement over the season. He is an instant contributor with how great he is in coverage and for the splash plays he makes in the run game.
If you want to see what I am talking about, specifically in regards to coverage, this is all you need to see. The kid is a baller.
Terrill Hanks is a fantastic coverage ILB and has some crazy ball skills for one. He is a converted safety and might just have 4.4 speed. Dude can read a play and blow it up so easily. He is a monster. pic.twitter.com/ZtLhW3X7nR— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 27, 2019
5. Germaine Pratt, ILB, NC State
Another one of my mid-round favorites, Pratt has all that Hanks and White upside but is a little less athletic, although I believe he is a better processor than both are. He is not a great processor yet, as he goes with false motions a bit too much, but the guy has insane coverage ability and ball skills. He could bulk up, as he has trouble shedding blocks, but like a lot of athletic LBs, it sometimes doesn’t matter if your gap shooting ability is top notch, and Pratt certainly fits into that category. This dude can flat out play.
NC State ILB Germaine Pratt is amazing. This here is a clinic on how to sift through traffic and he does so well. Dude is agile, has range, and is a natural Coverage LB. This dude is legit as all hell. Love the way he plays. If your team needs a LB, root for Pratt. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/oO7a2nfa1V— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 6, 2019
6. Joe Giles-Harris, ILB, Duke
If I had to pencil in the best Steelers fit right now, GIles-Harris would be that guy. This is the most polished ILB in the draft and would be a great second round pick who could plug and play right away. I think he has more limited upside than the five above him, and he is also less athletic, but he still has the sideline-to-sideline range to be a great MACK ILB in the league. This guy can simply flat out play. He can process better than anyone else in this class, and while he is a bit tight-hipped, he is a pretty good coverage ILB. He might be the one contenders are striving for.
Joe Giles-Harris is the best pure processor at LB in the draft to me. Very polished player. This guy is going to be a starter in the league.pic.twitter.com/bNiNCnb3un— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 10, 2019
7. E.J. Ejiya, ILB, North Texas
You guys have likely never heard of Ejiya, but whew, the dude can fly. He is rawer, and is a day 3 guy, but when you are talking about Day 3 value that you want in a LB, he has it all. Not only is he a sideline-to-sideline type of guy who can drop back into coverage and still shoot gaps, but it is clear on his film that he is a natural-born leader. His processing needs work, and he overpursues a bit too much, but when you can fly like he can and make plays from that athleticism in coverage and in the run game, you have yourself a very nice prospect.
North Texas ILB EJ Ejiya is one of the most productive and fun ILB prospects this year. This dude has some range. Agile, fast, and processes well. Dude fits well into a lot of schemes and should be picked on Day 3, and he very well could outplay his draft slot. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/y93W8bF8h6— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 15, 2019
8. Jeffrey Allison, ILB, Fresno State
I didn’t even know about this guy until a week ago when a guy on Twitter put me onto him, but I am so glad he did. And I found out he was going to the combine, which is even better! Allison is this low simply because while he is very good in coverage, he needs to learn how to work off his blocks and scrape over the top of things. However, his athleticism is amazing and he flies downhill. His gap shooting ability is second only to Devin Bush, and he is a fantastic coverage ILB. If there was ever a guy made from a MACK ILB, Allison is the guy. Get to know him, he is very, very good.
Jeffrey Allison is your sleeper ILB that you need to know. Perfect for 3-4 teams. Dude is a prototypical MACK ILB and has amazing athleticism. Gap shooting ability is off the charts. This is a heck of a play on the goaline right here. pic.twitter.com/lADHFK26hA— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) February 10, 2019
9. Ben Burr-Kirven, ILB, Washington
This dude is explosive and quick. The instincts from Burr-Kirven are apparent, even if he is very raw processing wise. He has the quick-trigger aspects you like to see from a guy who maybe doesn’t have great straight line speed, but has that lateral mobility to move and track guys down. With that, the guy is a great coverage LB. He blankets guys and runs with slot receivers. He might somewhat of a dimebacker role type guy, but regardless, his instincts are the biggest plus for him. Now, let him bulk up and get his gap shooting ability up.
Just before this Wazzu-Washington game, I finally watched tape on Ben Burr-Kirven, and man this guy knows how to diagnose a play. Really solid player at inside linebacker. Dude is an impressive player who will easily be in my top 60. #DraftTwitter pic.twitter.com/UWVC0uDqaq— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) November 24, 2018
10. Deshaun Davis, ILB, Auburn
Davis is not athletic, but his football IQ is off the charts. He calls out plays before they even begin and thwarts them. That athleticism still gets him into trouble in coverage and at times going sideline-to-sideline in a pure speed battle, but Davis’ incredible processing does mitigate it. If he tests decently well at the combine, he just might fly up this board, because he has a legitimate shot to become a pretty good NFL starter.