2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Linebackers
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Here, theScore's Mike Alessandrini and Dan Wilkins break down the top prospects in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft with position-by-position rankings and an overall top 50 big board.

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

Linebackers

1. Devin Bush

Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Michigan
Height: 5-11
Weight: 234 lbs

Strengths

  • All elements of elite athletic score appear on field
  • Excellent pursuit speed and angles for unlimited range
  • Instincts to quickly diagnose a play and take off
  • Shows ability to work through traffic, take on blockers, and shed to make a play
  • Good feel for zone coverage and has athletic ability to run with backs and tight ends
  • Effective and productive when used as a blitzer

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t have tackle production of typical top linebacker prospects
  • Missed tackles need to be cleaned up
  • Size will limit his position fits in NFL

Bottom line

Bush is a little small by league standards, and he'll need to clean up the occasional missed tackle. That's about where the list of potential concerns stops. With an elite athletic profile, instincts, an ability to drop into coverage, and better-than-expected proficiency taking on blocks and working through traffic in run defense, Bush is the perfect every-down linebacker for today's NFL. His size may limit him to a weakside role where he can be kept clean to run and chase, but there's value in that and he could be among the league's best.

2. Devin White

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School: LSU
Height: 6-0
Weight: 237 lbs

Strengths

  • Elite speed, explosiveness, and change-of-direction
  • Speed translates to field with pursuit burst and sideline-to-sideline range
  • Explodes downhill and flies through gaps to make plays in backfield
  • Athleticism gives him potential to stick with tight ends and backs in pass coverage
  • Effective blitzer from second level
  • Looks to rip ball out for turnovers
  • Incredible production over last two years (256 tackles)

Weaknesses

  • Has difficulty shedding blocks when linemen get hands on him
  • Misses too many tackles going for big hit rather than wrapping up
  • Still developing instincts to make quick reads
  • No real production in coverage

Bottom line

Often the most impressive player in the SEC, White put up some remarkable numbers at LSU. His elite athleticism shows up all over his tape, and he is an absolute missile flying sideline-to-sideline and downhill from the second level. Improving at shedding blocks and wrapping up to finish tackles would round out his already stellar game, and he's certainly doesn't lack the physicality to do so.

3. Blake Cashman

Dave Reginek / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Minnesota
Height: 6-1
Weight: 237 lbs

Strengths

  • Fantastic athletic scores across board
  • Good speed and angles make him particularly effective flowing to sideline
  • Reliable wrap-up tackler who rarely comes up empty
  • Can work through traffic at line and find ball carrier
  • Greats instincts both against run and in coverage
  • Fluid in coverage drops and shows comfort with zone

Weaknesses

  • Size will be more of an issue in NFL
  • Not an overly physical player
  • Lack of length makes it difficult to take on and shed blocks
  • Will be limited to linebacker roles that keep him clean and highlight his athleticism

Bottom line

Cashman was one of the more interesting stories of the combine. Flying under the radar because of his frame, the Minnesota product turned heads by posting an impressive profile of speed, explosiveness, and short-area quickness. As it turns out, those abilities all show up on tape, too. The lack of size and physicality limit his ability to take on blockers in the run game, but he's an extremely reliable tackler whose athleticism, pursuit, and coverage skills could make him a major addition to any defense on the weak side.

4. Mack Wilson

Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Alabama
Height: 6-1
Weight: 240 lbs

Strengths

  • Good hand usage when taking on blockers in running game
  • Locates ball carrier and shows ability to stack and shed block to make a play
  • Fairly reliable tackler when in position
  • Comfortable and effective dropping into coverage and has ball skills
  • Can make an impact as a blitzer from second level

Weaknesses

  • Average athleticism
  • Never contributed much as a downhill player with splash plays against run
  • Must learn to diagnose plays and attack more quickly
  • Only one season as a full-time starter

Bottom line

Alabama seems to send a highly regarded linebacker prospect to the NFL every year. Wilson is the latest, as he's a physical middle-of-the-field presence who can tackle and drop into coverage. Teams would probably like to see him establish more of a downhill play style, but instincts for which could come as he continues to gain experience, having only started the one year in Tuscaloosa.

5. Ben Burr-Kirven

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School: Washington
Height: 6-0
Weight: 230 lbs

Strengths

  • Explosive athlete with pursuit speed and sideline-to-sideline range
  • Great change-of-direction ability
  • Diagnoses plays quickly, flies downhill, and is more physical than expected
  • Locates ball well and has a feel for navigating through traffic at line
  • Good instincts in pass coverage
  • Can flip his hips and run with backs and tight ends
  • Incredible production as a senior highlighted by an NCAA-leading 176 tackles

Weaknesses

  • Size will always put him at a physical disadvantage
  • Doesn’t have play strength to take on linemen
  • Could be limited to a sub-package role

Bottom line

A significantly undersized linebacker, Burr-Kirven will face his share of doubters transitioning to the NFL. He'll never be a downhill thumper in the middle of the field, but he doesn't have to be, either. Some outstanding athletic movement traits, as confirmed by his combine performance, show up both in his sideline-to-sideline pursuit and when dropping back in coverage. And while it's tough to project it translating against bigger, stronger competition, he's also pretty physical for his size. Burr-Kirven could be a steal if size concerns push him too far down draft boards.

6. Germaine Pratt

Grant Halverson / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: NC State
Height: 6-3
Weight: 240 lbs

Strengths

  • Solid frame and athletic profile
  • Great pursuit speed
  • Great wrap-up tackler who's constantly finishing plays when in position
  • Proven coverage ability either dropping back or lining up over slot
  • Brings value with blitzes coming from second level

Weaknesses

  • Must improve approach and technique in taking on blocks
  • Often a step slow in making reads and getting downhill
  • Lacks short-area quickness

Bottom line

Pratt is a highly productive college linebacker who profiles as a weak-side player in the NFL. He'll need to improve his ability to work through and shed blocks, and the instincts are still a work in progress, but that should come with more seasoning. Having only played two years at linebacker after transitioning from safety, Pratt is still relatively new to the position. With pursuit speed, the ability to consistently wrap up, and third-down upside both in coverage and as a pass-rusher, he could quickly settle into a valuable full-time role.

7. Te'Von Coney

Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-1
Weight: 234 lbs

Strengths

  • Quickly diagnoses plays, makes reads, and takes off
  • Can stack and shed blocks and find ball as a run defender
  • Sound tackler who rarely misses
  • Good feel for zone coverages and how route concepts develop
  • Can make an impact as a blitzer

Weaknesses

  • Below-average pursuit speed limits range
  • Doesn’t have smooth change-of-direction ability
  • Will have trouble sticking with quicker tight ends and backs in man coverage

Bottom line

Coney doesn't exactly fit the modern linebacker mold, making his presence felt more against the run than anything else. There's certainly still space for such a player, and particularly one with his instincts, stack-and-shed ability, and tackling efficiency. But with athleticism limiting his impact in coverage, and thus making three-down duties unlikely, the upside is relatively limited.

8. Vosean Joseph

Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport / Getty

School: Florida
Height: 6-2
Weight: 230 lbs

Strengths

  • Big-play machine who can make an impact in numerous ways
  • Shoots gaps to make tackles for loss in backfield
  • Shows pursuit speed with range that extends to sideline
  • Productive pass-rusher either coming from second level or rotating to edge
  • Flashes ability to avoid blocks with lateral quickness and find ball-carrier

Weaknesses

  • Overall inconsistency
  • Doesn’t have size or strength for a traditional every-down role at linebacker
  • Fails to come to balance before contact and misses far too many tackles
  • Will get washed out of run plays when linemen get hands on him
  • Bails on gap in favor of freelancing style

Bottom line

Joseph is a fascinating prospect. No stranger to the big play in the backfield or on a spectacular effort to the sideline, he at times looks like a star in the making. But there are just as many bad plays as there are good. There's a ton of upside with Joseph if he can land in the right system, and perhaps his best fit ends up being a role similar to the one for which Deone Bucannon became known with the Cardinals.

Other notable prospects

Joe Robbins / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Bobby Okereke (Stanford)
Drue Tranquill (Notre Dame)
Terrill Hanks (New Mexico State)
Jahlani Tavai (Hawaii)

Top 50
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL
EDGE | DL | LB | CB | S

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2019 NFL Draft prospect rankings: Linebackers
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