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2016 NFL Scouting Combine: LBs to Watch

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Who are some of the top linebacker prospects to keep an eye on at the Combine?

Su'a Cravens. The next Tennessee Titan from USC?
Su'a Cravens. The next Tennessee Titan from USC?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ILB

1. Terrance Smith 6'3 243 Florida State

- Smith was the heir apparent to current Jaguars standout Telvin Smith (no relation). He's an athletic run and chase inside linebacker that finally put it together in 2015 after flashes in the past. Athleticism is above average for his position. The injury history is a big concern as he's had some knee issues throughout his career. Smith can fit in either the 4-3 or 3-4 systems seamlessly. Projected as a big ILB that can fly.

2. Blake Martinez 6'1 239 Stanford

- Martinez is a prototypical Stanford player in that he's smart and instinctive as a linebacker with a limited amount of athleticism. Among the bigger inside linebackers in this era of quick footed light weight linebacker prospects. Had a solid week in Mobile.

3. Scooby Wright III 6'1 246 Arizona

- Wright had an inconsistent 2015 season after missing a month to start the year with a knee injury in the first game. He's a tackling machine with very good instincts. Above average athleticism. Great motor that keeps on running. Can get lost on play action and on run plays due to overrunning the pursuit at times. Was in the conversation for many defensive awards for his amazing 2014 campaign. Wrapped up 2015 with a flourish in the bowl game. Could test well in Indy.

4. Reggie Ragland 6'1 259 Alabama

- Ragland chose to make the trip to Mobile even when he didn't necessarily need the boost in stock. He was a force to be reckoned with and showed why he's the best inside linebacker prospect this year. He was simply a dominant playmaker for the Crimson Tide defense chock full of NFL ready talent. He's very fundamentally sound in all aspects. Shows elite instincts and proper tackle form. Very physical hitter. Athleticism is good enough to cover sideline to sideline but he's better at going downhill, striking fear into the opposition. Doesn't miss tackles when given the opportunity.

OLB

1. Eric Striker 5'11 228 Oklahoma

- The do everything all world linebacker from Oklahoma needs a rebound performance after a terrible showing at the Senior Bowl. He didn't make anything easier for himself as he came in even lighter than everyone expected. Striker frequently got lost in the wash during the team drills due to his lack of size. He could fit as a Deone Bucannon type of tweener 'backer/safety that floats around in the box. If he has the athleticism for it, he should consider a move to safety.

2. Jordan Jenkins 6'2 257 Georgia

- The rock of the Bulldogs defense. Position versatile as he was asked to play end in certain situations. Lost a lot of weight this year (20 pounds) in an effort to gain more quickness and agility. Not the best athlete on most fields but a consistent presence. Scheme versatile as he's switched between Todd Grantham's 3-4 and Jeremy Pruitt's 3-4 seamlessly. Jenkins had a great week in Mobile. He was a monster all over the place. If Ragland is the most talented 'backer in Indy, Jenkins isn't far behind.

3. Travis Feeney 6'4 226 Washington

- Feeney might the nation's most underrated linebacker prospect this year. He's a freak athlete with great speed and good instincts. Fundamentally sound as a tackler. Position versatile as he can line up both inside and outside, even at end sometimes. East-West Shrine Game participant.

4. Myles Jack 6'1 245 UCLA

- A much better athlete than Shaq Thompson. Jack also played at running back in addition to his linebacker duties. He’s much more of a physical presence on defense than Thompson. He likely needs to move back a level into the secondary to safety to have a future in the NFL. He is a talented linebacker but I did not like how he abandoned his team after getting hurt and declaring for the draft. Teams will have some questions about that as interviews come and go.

5. Deion Jones 6'1 219 LSU

- Jones was simply a playmaker despite his light measurements in Mobile. Flew all over the field making plays. Did well in pass coverage, breaking up multiple passes and generally being in the area of the receiver. Those measurements at 6’1 219 have me spooked though. It could be beneficial if he shows a decent amount of athleticism during the Combine and Pro Day to move to safety.

6. Kyler Fackrell 6'4 244 Utah State

- Fackrell has been on the radar of the scouting community for at least three years now. He's been a tackling machine for the Aggies. A playmaker on the edge and he can hold up in run support as well. Didn't get much love due to the insane amount of defensive front seven talent out west. Could be the 2016 version of Ziggy Ansah. Expected to blow up at the Combine.

7. Su'a Cravens 6'1 225 USC

-  Cravens was arguably the best defender in the Pac-12. Position versatile as he originally started out at safety before converting to linebacker last year. Athleticism is very good as the hips are fluid and footwork is impressive. Instincts are great as well. Finds the hole in the offensive scheme and attacks it. Pass defense is underrated as he shows an uncanny ability to always find the ball.

8. De'Vondre Campbell 6'5 239 Minnesota

-  Campbell is a very good athlete that could put on some more weight to fill out his frame. Could bulk up and play end if he chose to do so. This year's Deiontrez Mount as both are athletic marvels but lack some fundamentals. He showed out at the practices at the East-West Shrine Game.

9. Leonard Floyd 6'3 232 Georgia

- The SEC's most versatile pass rusher over the past couple of seasons. He came on like gangbusters in 2014 but faded somewhat in 2015 after changing positions. Arm length is very good. First step is one of the better ones in the nation. Agility is very good as well. Frame needs work, however. He needs to fill out some more.

10. Jaylon Smith 6'3 235 Notre Dame

- The 2015 Butkus Award winner. Smith might be the most explosive linebacker in this year's class. He's an dynamic athlete with incredible range. A hard hitter as well. Fundamentally sound tackler. Drop back ability is elite. Could be Lavonte David 2.0. It's a shame that he suffered a severe knee injury that involved multiple ligament tears at the Fiesta Bowl.

Bonus prospects to watch

1. Darron Lee OLB Ohio State

2. Tyler Matakevich OLB Temple

3. Josh Forrest ILB Kentucky