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2023 & 2024 “Best Of”- Inside Linebackers

by J.T. Toth


Photo courtesy of 247Sports.


As this year comes to a close, Draft 412 will take a look at the 2023 and 2024 draft classes by position. The following is a current “Best Of” list for both offense and defense, taking a look back at the top players from last year’s draft party and ahead to the coming NFL selection process in April.


From Draft 412 to you… Happy Holidays and get your mock drafts ready!!


2023


The inside linebacker in the NFL is typically the designated “run stopper” who also is responsible for covering running backs and or tight ends in the passing game. It is very hard for a defense to be cohesive without good inside linebackers doing their jobs. Though they may not get the big sack numbers, a good inside linebacker accumulates over 100 tackles a season for their club.


The 2023 NFL Draft had 16 total inside linebackers selected and here are the best of last year’s selections:  


1- Detroit - Jack Campbell


The Detroit Lions had an exceptional draft in 2023. Jack Campbell was selected 18th overall and has become a big part of the Detroit Lions' continued rise in 2023. He has started 10 games and played in 15 total, collecting 78 tackles and 1 sack for Motown. He is the prototypical inside linebacker who is always around the ball and is effective in covering the backs out of the backfield.


2- Houston - Henry To’oTo’o


The Houston Texans had one of those drafts that sent their franchise in the right direction for several years in 2023. Not only did they draft CJ Stroud, Will Anderson, and Tank Dell, but they also got a future starting inside linebacker by the name of Henry To’oTo’o in the 5th round. To’oTo’o has played in 13 games, starting 6 for Houston and has collected 61 tackles and 1 forced fumble. He was a tackling machine at Alabama and the Texans may have gotten one of the steals of the draft in 2023. The knock against him was his size, but so far this season, he has looked stout and strong up the middle for Houston.


2024:


As we move from the 2023 draft to the 2024 NFL Draft, here is Draft 412’s Top Inside Linebacker prospects: 


1 - Jeremiah Trotter Jr. - Clemson


Jeremiah Trotter Jr. is the best linebacker in this draft and will most likely not make it past the fifteen spot in round one. He’s a tackling machine who has the coverage ability to blanket even the most athletic of tight ends. 



2 - Cedric Gray - North Carolina


Gray checks all the boxes but is a tad bit undersized. Whatever team takes him on day 2 will get a player who can step right in and become an impact linebacker. He had 368 tackles and 5 interceptions over his collegiate career.



3 - Jaylan Ford - Texas


Ford has not made his announcement regarding the NFL Draft yet, but is expected to after the College Football Playoffs. He is another day 2 pick and a linebacker who can do a little bit of everything. 



4 - Tommy Eichenberg - Ohio State


Eichenberg suffered an elbow injury and was clearly not 100% for most of the season. He reminds many of former Buckeye A.J. Hawk and should become a player a team can count on for 100 tackles a season. 



5 - Junior Colson - Michigan


Junior Colson is perhaps the most explosive and athletic linebacker in this class. Colson is waiting until after the College Playoffs to make his announcement. If he does enter the NFL Draft, he could be an excellent mid-round draft pick that could grow into a starting role in the NFL.



6 - Omar Speights - LSU


Speights only played in 9 games this past season, missing 3 games with a hip flexor. He is a run stopper and will be a nice depth piece for a linebacker group. Speights needs to continue getting stronger to be able to handle the rigors of the NFL.



7 - Steele Chambers - Ohio State


Chambers is undersized, but he plays with so much athleticism and fluidity that he is hard for teams not to covet. Depending on how a club sees him, he could be moved to be a hybrid linebacker/safety type player. He is raw, but has a high ceiling.



8 - Amari Gainer - North Carolina


Amari Gainer paired with Cedric Gray to form one of the best inside linebacker tandems in the country. Gainer has good pass rushing techniques but gets away too much with just using speed. He will need to get stronger to be successful inside in the NFL.


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