NFL Draft – Inside Linebacker Rankings

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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL draft a little less than a month away, I thought it was about time I posted my position rankings. The Bears have far fewer holes than they did at the beginning of the off-season, so it’s feasible that they could really draft any position. You can see what positions I think they will target in my latest mock draft, but Emery has been very unpredictable in his short time running the Bears so your guess is probably as good as mine. Throughout the next month I will list my rankings at each position with some analysis of the players and occasional commentary on whether they would be a good fit for the Bears. If you think my rankings are way off or if I forgot anybody, let me know about it in the comments.

Positions: QB | RB | WR | TE | T | G | C | DT | DE | ILB | OLB | CB | SS | FS

ILB Rankings:

1.) C.J. Mosley, Alabama (6’2, 234): Well rounded linebacker with good speed, toughness, instincts, and coverage ability. The only legit knocks on Mosley is that he’s been banged up a little with minor injuries and he is a little light for traditional middle linebackers. With the NFL becoming a passing league, I think we will see MLBs trending lighter and faster because they need to be more agile in coverage. Most year’s Mosley would be a top ten pick and he still might, but if he falls much farther he would be a steal. He’s NFL ready and should be a stud from week 1 on. Draft Projection: 1st round

2.) Chris Borland, Wisconsin (5’11, 248): He would be a lock for the first round if he were a few inches taller, but he’s shorter than ideal for the position. His lack of height will hurt him covering taller tight ends, but that’s really his only flaw. Borland might have the best instincts I’ve ever seen at the college level since Luke Kuechly. He ran a 4.7 40 at his pro day, so his speed is only average, but his elite instincts allow him to play a tenth or two faster on the field. If Borland can get there, he’s going to make the tackle. He’s a big hitter with 14 forced fumbles in his college career, has a knack for making big plays when needed, he is solid in zone coverage and more importantly he is leader on the field. Draft Projection: 2nd round

3.) Shane Skov, Stanford (6’2, 245): Plays with a ferocity and toughness that a lot of defenses could use. Skov was the emotional leader of a very tough Stanford defense last year. His pregame speeches are legendary for inspiring teammates, but more importantly his on the field play set the tone for Stanford’s fierce, hard-hitting defense. Skov is a sure tackler who can lay the lumber on opposing running backs or receivers crossing the middle. His blitzing instincts are so good that he is in the backfield so quick it looks like he is off-sides. Skov has barely enough speed for MLB in a 4-3, but makes up for it with great overall instincts. His man coverage needs work, but Skov plays very well in zone coverage. He’s a better fit in a 3-4, but can play either and worst case he will be a 2-down run stuffer. Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd round

4.) Christian Jones, Florida St (6’3, 240): Great athlete with good size and speed who is improving as a football player but still has to improve his technique and play recognition skills. Jones has been moving up draft boards quickly and has the versatility and size to play either inside or out. Draft Projection: 2nd-3rd round

5.) Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut (6’2, 246):Smallwood disappointed at the combine, but claims he was hurt so that might have been the reason for his slow times (5.01 40-time). Smallwood certainly looks faster than that on tape. He showed good range, sound tackling technique and the knack for making big plays when needed. Granted, he didn’t play against the best competition at UConn, but his production was still impressive (118 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 4 sacks in 2013). Draft Projection: 3rd round

6.) Preston Brown, Louisville (6’1, 251): Brown is a physical ILB with good size and instincts. He’s a step slow, but his instincts allow him to play faster than he’s timed and he can really hit once he gets there. Draft Projection: 3rd-4th round