Patriots Draft: Need #3: Linebacker

The Patriots have addressed Linebacker this off-season adding Mack Wilson in a trade for Chase Winovich and re-signing J’Whaun Bentley.

Veteran Raekwon McMillan and second year linebacker Cameron McGone are also in the mix as well. Third year linebackers Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche can play off the ball as well.

Despite that, the Patriots need to address the position. A linebacker who can play all three downs and have the speed to match up would be preferred.

Here are 15 linebackers who I think are good fits for the Patriots.

Devin Lloyd, 6-2 237, Utah

My Scouting Report: Lloyd is a rangy three downs linebacker who plays with good instincts and a feel for the game. Makes quick reads and is explosive vertically. Gets downhill and can negotiate traffic on his way to the ball carrier. Plays with a good pad level and leverage. Gets thin through the gap and gets to the ball.

Lloyd is an explosive blitzer who penetrates gaps and closes quickly. Most effective off the edge. A two time captain. Lloyd is highly respected by those in the Utah program who call him a leader and a film rat.

Lloyd needs to be more consistent as a tackler. Has a tendency to over run plays. Needs to play more under control. Rounds: 1st

Nakobe Dean, 5-11 229, Georgia

My Scouting Report: Dean doesn’t exactly fit the bill for the Patriots in terms of what they look for physically in their linebackers. He has terrific instincts and recognition skills. Attacks his keys and works through blocks. Explosive, compact athlete who can plant, redirect and locate the ball away from him. Plays fast laterally and can get down the line. Physical tackler who breaks down, wraps up and finishes on contact.

Dean has good instincts in man and zone coverage. Covers a lot of ground and has the athleticism necessary to cover receivers, tight ends and backs in space.

Size is an issue for Dean. Struggles to stack and shed bigger blockers. Has a tendency to get lost in the shuffle. Has a tendency to over pursuit and over run plays. Needs to play more under control when blitzing. Rounds: 1st

Quay Walker, 6-3 241, Georgia

My Scouting Report: Classic MIKE or SAM linebacker who plays fast and with good instincts. Reads his keys and attacks the ball. Steps up and attacks blockers. Can stack and shed at the point of attack. Plays square to the line of scrimmage and moves well laterally. Gets over the top on outside runs and finishes plays.

Moves well in zone coverage. Gains ground and can square and play receivers in his zone. Can match up with back in man coverage out of the back field but isn’t as effective carrying tight ends and slot receivers vertically. Effective blitzer who times his rush well. Can come off the edge in sub packages.

Walker needs to bend better. Tends to play tall and doesn’t play with great leverage. Needs to get his pads down and get under blockers better. Needs to be more consistent as a tackler. Rounds: 1st-2nd

Troy Anderson, 6-3 243, Montana State

My Scouting Report: Anderson is a terrific athlete who plays with good instincts and does a good job of diagnosing plays as they develop. Attacks blockers and can work through them. Plays with good leverage and strength and can disengage off blockers consistently. Does a good job of ripping through gaps and playing downhill. Twitchy athlete who has the short area explosiveness necessary to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.

Moves well in coverage. Anderson coverages a lot ground in zone and can match up with receivers in his area. Can carry routes vertically and has the coverage to cover receivers down the field.

Needs to finish plays. Misses too many tackles. Has a tendency to turn his shoulders and get caught in the wash laterally. Anderson needs to play stronger against second guards and fullbacks. Tends to get stuck and attached. Rounds: 2nd-3rd

Chad Muma, 6-2 239, Wyoming

My Scouting Report: Explosive linebacker who moves well for his size. Does a good job diagnosing plays and tracking down the ball carrier. Can get over the top on outside runs and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Muma can blitz off the line or from depth and generate pressure. Stay square and can close on quarterbacks quickly.

Impressive in coverage. Muma has loose, fluid hips and gets depth in his drops. Can match up in his zone and carry routes. Does a good job of matching up in man coverage. Stays square and can flips his hips vertically.

Not as physical as you’d like at times. Muma needs to play stronger at the point of attack. Needs to stack and shed cleaner. Tends to get caught up in blocks. Plating under control has been an issue at times. Rounds: 2nd-3rd

Christian Harris, 6-0 226, Alabama

My Scouting Report: Athletic, high I.Q linebacker who played in a pro-style defense for Nick Saban at Alabama. Plays with good instincts and is quick on the snap. Attacks blockers and plays with good leverage. Moves well laterally and can play downhill. Works through blocks and can finish plays at the point of contact.

Diagnoses run from pass cleanly and get into his drop with ease. Can match up in a zone and carry routes vertically. Plays under control and can match up with backs in man out of the backfield.

Harris is undersized. Will struggle at times to disengage from lineman when they block him at the second level. Needs to play more physical. Misses a lot of tackles because of run by’s. Needs to be cleaner in this area. Rounds 2nd-3rd

Leo Chenal, 6-2 250, Wisconsin

My Scouting Report: Big, physical MIKE linebacker type who is physical and attacks blockers. Plays with good instincts. Locates the ball and finishes plays. Active. Can play on or off the ball and be effective. Aggressive blitzer who times his rush and can get there. Does a good job of getting skinny and knifing through gaps and getting to the ball. Played in a pro-style 3-4 defense and has experience playing in multiple fronts.

Coverage isn’t Chenal’s strength. Better suited as a pass rusher in sub packages. Can come off the edge in blitz packages and has the closing speed to finish at the quarterback.

Chenal is physical but he lacks the speed to match up in coverage and he doesn’t play fast in space. Long term, profiles as a two down backer with sub package pass rush capability. Rounds: 3rd-4th

Channing Tindall, 6-1 230, Georgia

My Scouting Report: Profiles as a WILL linebacker who is athletic enough to play all three downs. Tindall does a good job of reading his keys and attacking the ball. Plays square and downhill. Does a good job of scraping through traffic and playing over the top.

Tindall is athletic in coverage. Gets depth on his drops and is fluid and loose in coverage. Can match up with receivers in his zone and in man coverage. Has the athleticism to carry routes vertically.

Tindall does need to play more physical. Often gets stuck on blocks and doesn’t disengage. Needs to be more physical at the point of contact both when it comes to defeating blocks and making tackles. Rounds: 3rd-4th

Darrian Beavers, 6-3 243, Cincinnati

My Scouting Report: Beavers is a big linebacker who played in a 33 Stack Defense at Cincinnati. Active and athletic. Beavers plays with good instincts, a good first step and he gets downhill fast. Stays square and attacks blocks at the point of engagement. Moves well enough laterally that he can get over the top and make plays against the run.

Effective blitzer who can get to the quarterback from an on line alignment or from depth. Does a good job of knifing through gaps and finishing plays on contact. Physical tackler who wraps and drives.

Average in coverage. Can get caught flat footed at times. Doesn’t get enough depth. Needs to do a better job of staying square to receivers in his area. Can get out matched in man coverage. Rounds: 3rd-4th

Aaron Hansford, 6-2 239, Texas A&M

My Scouting Report: Hansford offers scheme versatility. Can play SAM in a 30 or 40 front. Athletic for his size. Plays with decent instincts and can locate the ball. Moves well laterally and does a good job navigating traffic and working through blocks. Plays physical at the point. Attacks blocks and can consistently stack and shed.

Shows some range in coverage. Can get to his spot and unlock his hips and run. Matches up to receivers in his area and can carry them laterally.

Recognition skills are average. Gets stuck on reads at times. Doesn’t always play to his size. Needs to be more physical and extend better when he stacks to shed. Rounds: 5th-6th

Other Prospects

Darian Beavers, 5-10 221, Arizona State

Jack Cochrane, 6-3 236, South Dakota

Damone Clark, 6-2 239, LSU

Diego Fagot, 6-2 237, Navy

Jack Sanborn, 6-1 234, Wisconsin