2016 NFL Draft Rankings: Inside Linebacker

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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3.) Darron Lee, Ohio St (6’1 | 233 | 4.48) – If Jack, Ragland, and Buckner (link) and gone at 11, the I would be happy with the Bears drafting Lee. He’s an instinctive player who flys around the field making plays from sideline-to-sideline with speed, instincts, and the ability to diagnose plays right away. Despite lacking much size, Lee generates power with speed and accelleration. Lee can cover just about anyone including slot receivers and translates his speed into enough power to lay out bigger backs in the running game. Lee could play inside, outside, or even as an in-the -box safety on running downs. Had Lee stayed another year in Columbus he would have been a sure-thing first round pick. He may end up going in the first round anyway as he’s just the type of coverage linebacker that teams in the pass-happy NFL are currently looking for. The fact that Lee is a cerebral player who can also hit boosts his stock even higher. If Lee somehow slips to early in round 2, the Bears should be all over that pick. Even at 11 over-all, Lee isn’t much of a reach and should be a srtarting li

4.) Kendrell Brothers, Missouri (6’1 | 249 | 4.76) – Like Ragland, Brothers is more of a run-stopper first with similar sideline-to-sideline range. His lack of height keeps him from being as asset in coverage, but Brothers was one of the best run stoppers in college football last season. Brothers had double-digit tackles in 10 of his last 11 games last season and was a consistent force against the run. He recognizes plays quickly making up for his lack of elite speed and attacks the line of scrimmage more aggression than I saw from any of the Bear LBs last season. Brothers is a force against the run, was a leader of the Tigers defense and would improve the Bears run defense right away. His lack of length and speed could make him somewhat of a liability in coverage but Brothers could make a solid early-down linebacker and a special teams contributor.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

5.) Scooby Wright, Arizona (6’1| 246 | 4.68) – The Bears need playmakers all over the defense and all Wright’s done in college is make big plays. He is a bit of a tweener between outside, inside, and defensive end. With the Bears Wright would fit well between an early-down run-stopper at ILB and a play-maker off the edge in sub-packages. Wright was just a 2-star recruit coming out of high-school but was absolutely dominant in college with 163 tackles, 14 sacks, 29 TFLs, and 6 forced fumbles as a sophomore in 2014. It’s hard to encapsulate Wright in words, he just seemed to make big plays when they were needed most and would be a valuable addition to any NFL squad.

6.) Jaylon Smith, ND (6’3 | 247 | 4.67) – I had Smith higher before combine reports have Smith maybe missing all of the 2016 season. Bears can’t afford another year without a first round pick on the field, especially not knowing if he’ll be the same player coming back. Without a season ending injury to both his ACL and MCL to end his seasons, Smith may have been a top five pick in the draft. He can do it all against both the run and the pass when healthy and would be the most talented player on the Bears defense. Even if Smith misses the 2016 season, he’s got long-term Pro Bowl potential at either the inside or outside backer position if he comes back a similar player. The recent injury reports probably drops Smith out of the first round.and maybe out of the 2nd even. Oklahoma CB Aaron Colvin suffered a similar injury two seasons ago and went from a borderline 1st-2nd round pick to a 4th round pick in 2014.If Smith were to drop to the 3rd round, I think he’d be worth the risk for the Bears.