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Steelers 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Inside Linebacker Rankings and Scouting Reports

The BTSC Big Board crew is back, breaking down every noteworthy inside linebacker in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Iowa v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Draft season is here, ladies and gentleman, and BTSC is excited to bring you our exclusive NFL Draft Big Board for the third consecutive year! Between January and April, we will be giving you an in-depth look at over 200 prospects in this draft class, ranking and analyzing noteworthy prospects at each position.

We will unveil this board one position at a time, with the final top 250 draft board coming out right before the draft. This compilation of rankings, stats, and analysis is completed by a combination of BTSC staff and community members. The rankings and grades are my own and will be updated throughout the process, while the stats and measurables are compiled by site moderator SNW. The analysis is a collaborative effort, which includes myself, Ryland B., Jeremy Betz, Noah_E., Necksnation, John O’Malley, Adam Curry, Shannon White, and Steve Martucci.

UPDATE: We have a new big board site!!!

Created by BTSC member DaveInBalt, we now have a running BTSC Big Board site that can be used to track the draft on draft night! The board itself is still in progress, as I have yet to submit my full and final rankings. However, you are now welcome to access this site. Just go to to check it out!!!

As it pertains to the grading scale, first-round grades will include top-five, top-ten, mid first, and late first grades. Rounds 2-5 will have early, mid, and late grades, while sixth-round grades will simply have a generic round grade. Prospects with a Round 7 grade will not be differentiated from those with an undrafted grade.

Just like last year, each big board article will be a complemented by a separate article discussing whether or not the Steelers should draft said position in the 2023 NFL Draft. Ryland will be heading up that portion of the draft coverage once again this year.

Our next position on the board is a position that is weak overall, but still a position the Steelers need to look closely at: inside linebacker. With Devin Bush, Myles Jack, and Robert Spillane departing this offseason, the Steelers had a true turnover at the position, bringing in Elandon Roberts and Cole Holcomb. However, the Steelers still lack that true run-and-hit linebacker that Mike Tomlin loves on his defense.

If you have any thoughts on this linebacker class, be sure to share it in the comment section below. Let’s dive in!

1. Jack Campbell | Iowa | 6‘5”, 243 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 125, TFL 5.5, S 1, Int 2,PD 1, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 2nd

Shannon White: At first glance, Campbell is an old school middle linebacker, cut from similar cloth as Steelers legend Jack Lambert. At 6’5” and nearly 250 lbs, Campbell is tall, thick, instinctive, and intimidating. Upon second glance, we see the former Iowa product is also more explosive and athletic than advertised, proven by his top of his class explosive measurables, plus his serviceable 4.65 forty. His game film was both impressive and enjoyable. Campbell was a unanimous first team All American, plus the Butkus Award winner in 2022. He is everything that a Buck linebacker should be, and is my favorite off ball linebacker in this class. Regrettably, I believe Mike Tomlin and company have other ideas.

Andrew Wilbar: Before I give a grade clarification, I agree with everything Shannon stated about Campbell. However, for what the Steelers currently need at inside linebacker, I think Trenton Simpson would make more sense. Thus, his overall grade is barely above Simpson’s, while his Steelers-specific ranking is slightly lower than Simpson’s. This is just a clarification as to how the grading works. The overall grade used on this board is a general grade, but for the Steelers specifically, my grade is higher for Simpson.

2. Trenton Simpson | Clemson | 6‘3”, 235 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 72, TFL 4, S 2.5, Int 0,PD 3, FR 0, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 2nd

Shannon White: Simpson embodies the modern day interior linebacker the league is looking for, possessing the superior mobility needed to excel in coverage. If I am correct, and the Steelers are looking to fill some of what was lost with Edmunds departure with a off ball linebacker selection, then Simpson could very well be at the top of their list. The former Clemson Tiger, at 6’2” and 235 lbs., has the size and skill profile of the modern day Mack. Simpson’s 4.43 forty shows up on film, as he can easily turn and run with most receivers. This ability has resulted in numerous evaluators suggesting the possibility of a Carnell Lake-like move to safety in the NFL, but not solely because of his elite level athleticism. Simpson lacks ideal instincts, and the physicality to disengage from blockers, similar to a recently departed predecessor. Based on those shortcomings alone, I cannot justify selecting him in the first round, but the Steelers may have other ideas.

3. Drew Sanders | Arkansas | 6‘5”, 230 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 103, TFL 13.5, S 9.5, Int 1,PD 5, FR 1, FF 3.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 3rd

Shannon White: Honestly, I am more intrigued by the idea of Sanders than the actual product on the field. Sanders was an Alabama edge player who transferred to Arkansas and became an off ball linebacker. At 6’5” and 233 lbs., with 4.54 speed, Sanders possesses an intriguing combination of size and speed. He has everything you look for in a versatile interior linebacker, besides experience. Sanders’ film was about what you would expect from an extremely talented but raw prospect; lots of flash, with the occasional crash mixed in. Patience will be crucial for whichever franchise pulls the early round trigger for the young standout. That is usually in short supply for any projected first round selection.

4. Daiyan Henley | Washington State | 6‘1”, 220 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 106, TFL 12, S 4, Int 1, PD 1, FR 2, FF 3.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 3rd

Shannon White: Henley fits the profile for what a modern day coverage linebacker looks like. At 6’1” and 225 lbs., he lacks ideal size, and is limited to the Mack position. Henley has 4.54 speed and solid explosive metrics, to go along with a consistent motor. His above average speed and mobility suggest the potential to be a subpackage coverage specialist at some point in his NFL developmental future. If the Steelers brass agrees with that evaluation, then the former Washington State Cougar could be a third round target.

5. Dorian Williams | Tulane | 6‘1”, 220 lbs

2022 stats: GP 14, T 132, TFL 8.5, S 5, Int 2, PD 7, FR 0, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 3rd

Shannon White: Williams compares favorably with the aforementioned Henley, both in size and athletic ability, although Williams 4.49 forty was slightly faster. Like Henley, Williams is strictly a Mack LB who needs time to fully develop his coverage abilities at the NFL level. Williams is also an accomplished special teams performer, and highly respected around the Tulane program. For whatever reason, Williams reminded me of Terrell Edmunds while watching his game film. Williams is currently projected around the sixth round, which would be excellent value for an immediate special teams standout with the athleticism to potentially be a NFL starter somewhere in his future. Low risk/high reward type of selection.

6. DeMarvion Overshown | Texas | 6‘4”, 229 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 96, TFL 10, S 4, Int 0, PD 5, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 3rd

Jeremy: Overshown is the new age, hybrid inside linebacker teams are looking for in 2023. I’ve comped him, somewhat controversially, to Fred Warner from a body-type perspective. The former safety is great in coverage and has the speed to hang with RBs, TEs, and WRs from sideline to sideline. He’s rangy and fluid and fast. Needs to show better instincts in deciphering play calls, but once he sees what’s happening he has the athletic aim to make plays at every level. I believe Overshown could be the steal of the draft at LB if he gets the right opportunity in the right system to use his athletic traits.

7. Owen Pappoe | Auburn | 6‘1”, 226 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 91, TFL 3, S 2, Int 1, PD 3, FR 0, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 4th

Ryland B.: I’m not completely sold on Pappoe. I’ve heard a lot of good things about his athleticism, some of which was evident on tape, but other times his movement looked unsure and stiff. Still, there were moments where Pappoe’s sideline-to-sideline capabilities were on show and he was a heat-seeking missile towards the ball, and for the most part he was aware and athletically capable in coverage. When it came to defending the run, Pappoe struggled to get off of blocks and was at times slow to diagnose plays. His missed tackle rate isn’t terrible but there were a few too many on tape. Overall, Pappoe has some intriguing athletic traits, but the undersized linebacker is very much a boom or bust prospect.

8. SirVocea Dennis | Pittsburgh | 6‘1”, 230 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 94, TFL 12, S 7, Int 1, PD 3, FR 0, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 4th

Noah_E: Dennis is a phenomenal wrap-up tackler and is explosive coming downhill. He’s quick to read and react while also having the discipline to recognize play action and drop back into coverage. He’s a good athlete with true sideline-to-sideline range and great closing speed. His ability to read the quarterback’s eyes in zone coverage is also a big plus. However, Dennis is undersized and lacks the strength to take on blockers. He’s susceptible to misdirection and can get lost easily on run plays. Overpursuing is an issue for him as well. He’s already at a disadvantage because of his size, and without good play recognition, it could be really rough for him. He has the physical tools to be a good player, he just needs to put it all together.

9. Noah Sewell | Oregon | 6‘3”, 250 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 56, TFL 5.5, S 1.5, Int 1, PD 4, FR 1, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 4th

Shannon White: It feels like I have been writing about Sewell for over a year now. He was definitely on my radar heading into the 2022 season, when I considered Robert Spillane the only true Buck on the Steelers roster. Now that the Steelers have signed Roberts, and because of the versatility of Holcomb and Robinson, I don’t feel the urgent need to add another Buck LB. If the Steelers miss the opportunity to draft Campbell, or choose to go another direction in the early rounds, then Sewell could still be a possibility in as late as the fourth round. Sewell is another hard-nosed baller who would have been in high demand before the turn of the century, but now runs the risk of becoming a two down specialist. Sewell ran a 4.64 forty at the Combine, which was actually faster than I was expecting for the 246 lbs. former Oregon Duck. Sewell would be an excellent value in the fourth round or later, and won’t turn 21 until next month.

10. Mohamoud Diabate | Utah | 6‘3”, 227 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 58, TFL 13.5, S 5, Int 0, PD 1, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 4th

Noah_E: Diabate’s tape leaves much to be desired. There’s no denying he’s an elite athlete with great instincts. He has the versatility to line up or off the ball and uses his quickness to get to the quarterback. Diabate is also a big hitter that often brings guys down behind the line of scrimmage. His ability to find the ball is fantastic and he has a knack for slipping through gaps to make the tackle. However, he lacks the fluidity to consistently run sideline-to-sideline and has trouble taking on blockers. He often takes bad angles in run support and hasn’t proved he can stick in coverage. He plays upright and lacks explosiveness at times. His athleticism and natural feel for the game make him a solid prospect, but if he can’t cover or be a reliable run defender, I’m afraid he could fizzle out very quickly.

11. Ben VanSumeren | Michigan State | 6‘3”, 240 lbs

2022 stats: GP 11, T 81, TFL 3, S 2, Int 0, PD 2, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 4th

Andrew Wilbar: VanSumeren is an interesting prospect with a background unlike any other in this linebacker class. He started his career as a fullback at the University of Michigan before converting to linebacker. One year after the position change, VanSumeren up and left Michigan only to transfer to their in-state rival, Michigan State. After being used minimally in 2021, VanSumeren was a huge part of the Spartans defense this past fall, displaying good open-field tackling ability as well as the fluidity and range to keep up with most skill players in coverage, regardless of position. What put himself on the map, however, was his incredible pro day workout, which included a 4.4 40-yard dash, 29 bench reps, a 42 ½” vertical, and a 131” broad jump. Ben is not a playmaker who has been able to shift the momentum of games with splash plays, nor has he been able to display a good closing burst as an open-field tackler. He also gets out-leveraged from time to time due to poor technique, making it look as if he doesn’t play as big as even his average size would suggest. That is probably the biggest concern as he heads to the NFL. Nonetheless, with a player as athletically gifted as VanSumeren, I cannot blame any team who takes a stab at him on Day 3. The potential makes it well worth it.

12. Trevor Nowaske | Saginaw Valley State | 6‘3”, 235 lbs

2022 stats: GP 11, T 98, TFL 9.5, S 1, Int 4, PD 7, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 4th

Andrew Wilbar: Nowaske was often aligned in an outside linebacker role in college, but I project him as an inside ‘backer at the next level. With the athleticism to cover many receivers, Nowaske has the versatility to line up just about anywhere. His aggressiveness allows him to fearlessly get into passing lanes and make plays on the ball in coverage. He also puts great force into his tackles, driving defenders to the ground when his tackling angles are clean. The big concern I have is that he second-guesses himself in coverage on occasion. He has good instincts as to where he needs to be as the play unfolds, but his backpedal is not the cleanest, and he lacks the field awareness needed to maintain proper spacing relative to both his zone and the nearest receiving entity. That aspect will likely improve as he gains experience (and settles in on one position), but it is something worth keeping an eye on moving forward. Overall, I like Nowaske’s nose for the football and would consider him a steal in the later rounds. The upside is tremendously high long-term, and his experience on special teams will allow him to contribute immediately.

13. Ivan Pace, Jr. | Cincinnati | 6‘0”, 239 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 136, TFL 20.5, S 9, Int 0, PD 4, FR 0, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 5th

Ryland B.: Pace is a fun prospect to watch. He’s undeniably undersized for a linebacker who specializes in blitzing and run-stuffing, but he plays like a much bigger defender. His aggressive style of play and confidence are incredible, and he’s much stronger and better at getting off of blocks than you’d think. His incredible stats back that up. Pace is an impact defender near the line of scrimmage who is more than capable of taking over games. His instincts are fantastic and he’s a pro at navigating traffic towards the football. He pass-rushes with such effort and quickness that he is one of the best, if not the best, blitzing linebacker in this class. Pace does have some limitations, however, as his motor doesn’t completely make up for his lack of prototypical size and sideline-to-sideline range. His size issues may be an even bigger problem at the NFL level, but Pace has proved doubters wrong before and I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to do it again. I think there’s enough to love in Pace’s game to give him some starter/rotational upside as a situational linebacker in a similar role to the one he played as a Bearcat: something close to the line of scrimmage. At the very least, he has the floor of a special teams ace.

14. Dee Winters | TCU | 6‘1”, 223 lbs

2022 stats: GP 15, T 79, TFL 14.5, S 7.5, Int 1, PD 2, FR 1, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Early 5th

Noah_E: Dee Winters is an absolute animal. He’s a tackling machine and doesn’t shy away from contact. His closing speed is ridiculous, and he hits like a freight train. He shoots the gap almost instantaneously to disrupt plays and make tackles. Winters has the athleticism to cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield, although I worry about his size. Now he can be a little late to diagnose plays and is too easily taken out of the play by blockers. I’d like to see him pack on a bit more muscle to make up for his smaller frame. He isn’t going to be a full-time edge player, but he has experience there and is someone that can come in for a series or two if needed. I think Winters will be an exciting player at the next level, and I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him in the black and gold.

15. Anfernee Orji | Vanderbilt | 6‘2”, 224 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 106, TFL 6.5, S 1, Int 1, PD 1, FR 2, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 5th

Jeremy: Orji is a whirling dervish with an attacker’s mentality and the speed and athleticism to make plays all over the field. Unfortunately along with that comes some inconsistency and a propensity to overpursue and get moved off his spot by play fakes and motions. He has a lot to work with from an athletic standpoint, and he displays an NFL motor. Teams looking for a project sideline to sideline ILB will like Orji’s traits.

16. Jacoby Windmon | LB/EDGE | Michigan State | 6‘2”, 230 lbs

2022 stats: GP 8, T 49, TFL 10.5, S 5.5, Int 1, PD 2, FR 1, FF 6.
Wilbar’s Grade: Mid 5th

Andrew Wilbar: Windmon is a savvy, experienced linebacker with the smarts and leadership skills to win over a defense’s trust. A good on-field communicator, Windmon displays great awareness and anticipation, specifically as a run defender. He is quick to shoot gaps, fulfill his assignment, and regroup for the next down. Personally, I like what he brings as an EDGE rusher despite his undersized frame, as he possesses a strong base and rarely gets supplanted by opposing linemen. What prevents him from being an elite run defender is his inability to get off blocks and disengage from opponents. This is something that must be fixed if he ever wants to see significant playing time on an NFL team. As a pass rusher, He also displays decent burst, recording 17 sacks in his career. His short frame also works to his advantage as a pass rusher, as many offensive tackles struggle to get low enough to get good hand placement on him. At the end of the day, Windmon’s draft stock will depend on how teams view his versatility. He has experience at both EDGE rusher and inside linebacker, but his smaller frame will limit his ceiling in either role.

17. Jeremy Banks | Tennessee | 6‘1”, 220 lbs

2022 stats: GP 11, T 53, TFL 4.5, S 0, Int 0, PD 4, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 5th

Jeremy: Banks can move and is a really good athlete as a run and hit linebacker. He works through wreckage easily to find ball carriers, but can overpursue at times due to poor positioning in the hole. Slightly smaller than average, Banks relies on tenacity to make up for a slighter build. In coverage, Banks tracks routes well in man, but can get moved off his spot by QBs and savvy receivers in zone coverage. A traits flier late in the draft.

18. Aubrey Miller, Jr. | Jackson State | 6‘2”, 225 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 117, TFL 12, S 2, Int 0, PD 6, FR 2, FF 5.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 5th

Jeremy: Miller will intrigue some teams with his size and style of play, but he has a lot of work to do diagnosing and finishing plays before he’ll get a starting shot in the NFL. He’s a fluid athlete and a former 4-star recruit so he has the traits to grow into a solid player at the NFL level. His motor never stops, and he’s a willing, if not spectacular, tackler in the box. He has some coverage skills but is best used as an early down run defender with special teams ability early on.

19. Zaire Barnes | Western Michigan | 6‘1”, 225 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 93, TFL 4.5, S 1, Int 1, PD 8, FR 3, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 5th

Noah_E: I was relatively unimpressed while watching Barnes. He’s not a very fluid athlete, and his feet are heavy. His instincts aren’t great, and he’s often unable to read run plays, putting himself out of position. He struggles a lot with contact and if a lineman gets his hands on him, it’s pretty much over. However, it’s not all bad. Barnes does a good job disrupting throwing lanes and has had success as a blitzer. He’s also a solid tackler and has a very high motor. Unfortunately, he will be 24 when the season starts which is unattractive to a lot of teams. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get drafted, but I doubt it will be anytime before the end of the 6th round.

20. Henry To’oTo’o | Alabama | 6‘2”, 225 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 94, TFL 8, S 2.5, Int 0, PD 0, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: Late 5th

Noah_E: To’oTo’o has the perfect blend of raw athleticism and discipline to counter mobile QBs. He knows how to fight off blocks and get after the ball carrier. His ability to cover isn’t outstanding, but it’s good enough to stick with most tight ends and slot receivers. He’s a good run defender that consistently recognizes where the ball is and finishes tackles. To’oTo’o lacks explosiveness coming downhill and doesn’t have the range to be a true sideline-to-sideline player. He doesn’t have great change of direction and is easily thrown off balance by Offensive Linemen. I think his high football IQ will make him a solid backup or rotational player, but I don’t think he’ll be a consistent starter in the NFL.


21. Ventrell Miller | Florida | 6‘1”, 226 lbs

2022 stats: GP 11, T 74, TFL 8.5, S 0, Int 0, PD 2, FR 1, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

22. Marvin Pierre | Kent State | 6‘1”, 222 lbs

2022 stats: GP 11, T 96, TFL 7.5, S 1.5, Int 1, PD 2, FR 1, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

23. Drake Thomas | North Carolina State | 6‘0”, 238 lbs

2022 stats: GP 13, T 101, TFL 19, S 7.5, Int 0, PD 4, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

24. Shaka Heyward | Duke | 6‘4”, 220 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 93, TFL 6, S 2, Int 2, PD 6, FR 2, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: 6th

25. DeAndre Square | Kentucky | 6‘1”, 224 lbs

2022 stats: GP 9, T 58, TFL 3, S 1, Int 1, PD 3, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

26. Cam Jones | Indiana | 6‘3”, 224 lbs

2022 stats: GP 5, T 54, TFL 3, S 1, Int 0, PD 1, FR 1, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

27. Jalen Graham | Purdue | 6‘3”, 220 lbs

2022 stats: GP 9, T 52, TFL 5, S 1, Int 1, PD 5, FR 0, FF 1.
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

28. Charlie Thomas | Georgia Tech | 6‘2”, 207 lbs

2022 stats: GP 12, T 112, TFL 10.5, S 2, Int 2, PD 2, FR 2, FF 2.
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

29. Micah Baskerville | LSU | 6‘1”, 231 lbs

2022 stats: GP 14, T 89, TFL 4.5, S 1, Int 1, PD 8, FR 0, FF 0.
Wilbar’s Grade: 7th/UDFA

What are your thoughts on this inside linebacker class? Do any of these prospects make sense for the Steelers? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!