2014 NFL Draft Inside Linebacker Rankings

"Shayne Skov"

Richard Mackson – USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 inside linebacker class was a mixed bag filled with plenty of Manti Te’o drama. Te’o stole the headlines with his girlfriend hoax but we’ll see if he can steal the show on the field in San Diego. The 2013 class proved to be fairly top heavy with five prospects gone in the top 50.

The 2014 inside linebacker class could develop into an intriguing group with some solid senior prospects mixed in with some talented underclassmen.

After the break check out our 2014 NFL Draft inside linebacker rankings.


1. James Morris, Iowa

Morris flies well under the national radar in Iowa but is a very solid player. The 6-foot-1, 240 pound senior has started since stepping foot on campus and put up some huge numbers. He has the instincts, toughness, and leadership to be a special player at the next level. With another season of fine football, Morris will fly up media draft boards.

2. Avery Williamson, Kentucky

Williamson won’t jump off the tape as an athlete but his instincts and take-on strength will make him an intriguing 3-4 ILB at the next level. He attacks the line of scrimmage with violence and filled the leadership void left with Danny Trevathon moving onto the NFL last season. Williamson will again be amongst the top tacklers in college football and should rise up draft boards as the season progresses.

3. Shayne Skov, Stanford

Skov didn’t perform up to his usual standards in 2012 following an ACL injury. That said, the ‘real’ Shayne Skov showed up late in the season and it’s easy to see why teams may value him very highly. Skov is a versatile linebacker that could play inside or outside in a 3-4. He excels as an interior blitzer and should be back to 100% this season.

4. Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky

Jackson contemplated coming out for the 2013 NFL Draft but wisely opted to return for his senior season. At 6-foot-1 and 262 pounds, Jackson is the definition of a downhill thumper but he’s surprisingly agile for a man his size. While he’s not going to blow anyone away with his straight-line speed, it’s conceivable that Jackson could find his way into the early stages of day two if he can prove to be adequate in pass coverage this season.

5. Max Bullough, Michigan State

Bullough’s mediocre (at best) ability to drop in coverage is the only thing stopping him from being our top–rated ILB. He’s an instinctual linebacker that can rack up double digit tackles with ease. His ability to fight through the trash and sure tackling are tops on this list. That said, he’s a liability in pass coverage and it’s a necessity in today’s game. Bullough needs to prove this season that he can hold up in pass coverage if he wants a spot on day two of the draft.

6. Chris Borland, Wisconsin

Much like his Big 10 brethern. Borland really struggles in pass coverage. His speed is negligible but there aren’t many that can find the football the way Borland does. He’s made a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage in his Wisconsin career which speaks to his instincts. His best fit at the next level will come on the inside in the 3-4.

7. Lamin Barrow, LSU

I need to see more of Barrow because I feel like I’m missing the boat on this kid. 2012 was his first season as a starter and he played well in year one. He will need to add some bulk to his 232 pound frame to play on the inside but showed a knack for finding the football and was solid in pass coverage.

8. Greg Blair, Cincinnati

9. Preston Brown, Louisville

10. DeDe Lattimore, South Florida

11. Caleb Levy, Oklahoma State

12. Mike Marry, Ole Miss

13. Jack Tyler, Virginia Tech

14. Glenn Carson, Penn State

15. Nate Dreiling, Pittsburg State


1. A.J. Johnson, Tennessee

"A.J. Johnson"

Randy Sartin – USA TODAY Sports

Johnson is a rare specimen with speed, athleticism, and physicality wrapped up in one package. He’s a vicious tackler with true sideline to sideline speed. He’s a first round talent that has been an immediate impact player at Tennessee and brings similar abilities to the next level.

2. Eric Kendricks, UCLA

If not for his lack of size, Kendricks would be challenging Johnson as the top underclassmen ILB. He may move to the outside in the NFL but there’s no doubt that his skill set translates to the next level. At 6-foot-0 and 230 pounds, Kendricks is a ballhawk and true three-down linebacker with the ability to rack up huge tackle numbers with his combination of speed and instincts. He’s the younger brother of Mychal Kendricks and their games are eerily similar.

3. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut

Smallwood was a standout sophomore linebacker in the Big East as he averaged double digit tackles. He’s an instinctual linebacker that will get a chance to shine with Sio Moore and Trevardo Williams moving on to the NFL. I fully expect Smallwood to have another great season and push the top of this list.

4. Trey DePriest, Alabama

We haven’t seen the best of Trey DePriest. 2013 should be his year to shine playing next to C.J. Mosley. DePriest showed he was a more than capable starter on a loaded defense but needs to take the next step towards being a leader of the defense. He possesses a nice blend of size and athleticism that will intrigue teams early in the draft.

5. AJ Tarpley, Stanford

6. Bryce Hager, Baylor

7. Steve Edmond, Texas

8. Hayes Pullard, USC


1. Jabari Hunt-Days, Georgia Tech

Hunt-Days was a standout in 2012 as a redshirt freshman and brings all the physical tools to be a really good ILB at the next level. At 6-foot-3 and 253 pounds, Days brings ideal size to go with excellent athleticism, speed, and strength. It’s rare that a third-year sophomore ILB would declare for the draft but Days is a rare specimen at the position. Another season of progression could push Days into rarified air.

Author: Brad

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  • neighborhooddrunkpart2

    I hope the steelers either draft A.J. Johnson,AJ Tarpley,Avery Williamson or
    Shayne Skov.

    • bradc11

      Any of those guys would be great fits for what the Steelers want to do. Couldn’t go wrong with anyone of those guys. I think Williamson is a guy that is going to rise quickly this season.

      • neighborhooddrunkpart2

        Williamson will be the first ILB drafted.

  • Bex_R1986

    A.J. Johnson has got the all round game, in particular with the best athleticism to drop back into coverage. I must admit, I’ve not watch a lot of footage of him (just 1 game of all his plays), but I saw signs of some questionable instincts at times, his mental game might need some work. I’ll be watching that this year.

    One guy I think that is a major omission from this list is Mike Marry of Ole Miss. I thought he really stood out towards the end of last season, and see him as a big sleeper for the 2014 draft. Great all round game.

    • bradc11

      No doubt that Johnson is a bit rough around the edges and needs some seasoning but his upside is through the roof. I think he’ll refine his game this season and emerge into the top ILB for 2014.

      I haven’t seen anything on Marry. Only watched Ole Miss offense thus far. You’re the first person to talk about Marry, so I’ll put him on the watch list for the season. Thanks for the heads up.

      • Bex_R1986

        Ah, then your in for a treat! The last couple games of the season in particular were great, the Egg Bowl and the Post season Bowl game vs Pitt. I’ve done my pre-season grades and he starts the season with a mid 3rd round. He’s definitely one to watch out for this upcoming season.