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Scouting linebackers in the NFL Draft

Devin White of LSU, Devin Bush of Michigan and Brian Burns of Florida State are all projected to be first-round picks.

LSU linebacker Devin White runs a drill at

LSU linebacker Devin White runs a drill at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on March 3. Photo Credit: AP/Michael Conroy

Devin White, ILB, LSU

Height: 6-foot

Weight: 237

40 time: 4.42

Strengths: Extremely productive with a combined 258 tackles and 7 ½ sacks over the past two seasons … Good speed for sideline-to-sideline pursuit … Plays with intensity.

Weaknesses: A converted running back, White still needs to play more instinctively … May need to add a few pounds and muscle to deal with bigger NFL players.

Projected draft status: First round

Quote: White on where he will be drafted: “It’s very important for me to be the top inside linebacker in this draft. I feel like I put the work in, I showed it throughout my career, I progressed every year, I did everything right on and off the field as far as being a great guy, having that attitude, going to work every day and leading my team.”

Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan

Height: 5-11

Weight: 234

40 time: 4.43

Strengths: A tenacious tackler and also a good pass rusher from the inside with a combined 10 sacks over the last two seasons … Good speed for the position … Very energetic player who has versatility in dealing with the run and the pass.  

Weaknesses: Considered short by some standards … Will need to get in an NFL weight program to add strength.

Projected draft status: First round.

Quote: Bush on fitting the role of a modern NFL linebacker: “I feel like I fit it. I feel like I can succeed in that role. That’s my game. I’m a twitchy linebacker. I can cover. I can blitz. I can play the run. I can do it all.”

Brian Burns, OLB, Florida State

Height: 6-5

Weight: 249

40 time: 4.53

Strengths: Considered a strong outside rusher … Great size-speed ratio … Productive player with 10 sacks and three forced fumbles last year.  

Weaknesses: Will need to improve on recognition of plays … Doesn’t have elite speed.

Projected draft status: First round.

Quote: Burns on his approach to coming off the edge: “I pretty much do a lot of my moves off of speed. So I mean, I’ve got a lot of ways to win. I feel like I win inside, outside. I feel like I’ve got a lot of counters. And then I really want to work on my speed to power, that’s a big thing I’m working on.”

Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida

Height: 6-3

Weight: 258

40 time: 4.84

Strengths: Plays with great instinct for the position … Has quick moves and can muscle his way past defenders as well … Had career-best 11 sacks last year.

Weaknesses: Needs to be more consistent, especially at NFL level … Has had some weight issues … Doesn’t possess great speed.

Projected draft status: Rounds 1-3

Quote: NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein: “The game tape shows an ability to rush the pocket with a fluid, diverse attack, but he might not have the grit necessary to play the run as a 3-4 outside linebacker on early downs. His troubling postseason that included bad combine interviews, bad workouts and additional weight around the midsection has substantially clouded his draft standing into the boom-or-bust category.”

Mack Wilson, ILB, Alabama

Height: 6-1

Weight: 240

40 time: Did not run at Scouting Combine

Strengths: Solid season in 2018 with 65 tackles and 4 ½ sacks … The training that linebackers get at Alabama is second to none … Very sure tackler with good instincts.

Weaknesses: Doesn’t have great speed … May not be used much as a pass rusher in the NFL … Had advantage of playing with big-time talent around him at Alabama, so there’s some uncertainty about his game.

Projected draft status: Rounds 1-3

Quote: Wilson on his strengths: “The strength of my game is my ability to play any linebacker position and my ability  to run sideline to sideline. Cover tight ends, cover running backs, blitz, tackle. I feel I can do it all.”

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