Cameron McGrone NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Michigan
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 236 pounds
Before looking at what the 2021 NFL Draft holds for Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone, it’s worth looking back on how he got here. He was an explosive playmaking high school prospect out of Lawrence Central High School. Furthermore, he was one of the pivotal defensive parts of the Wolverines’ 2018 recruiting class.
McGrone was a four-star recruit as per 247 Sports. He was ranked as the 118th player in the nation and seventh outside linebacker. Depending on which recruiting site you prefer, he was either the best or second-best player in the state of Indiana. Although he held an early in-state offer from Indiana, Michigan was the favorite to land the linebacker.
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It’s easy to see why he was so heavily recruited. McGrone had made an impression early as a sophomore at Lawrence. Even in an injury-shortened junior season, he racked up 15.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. The ACL tear that ended his junior season didn’t seem to hinder the speedy, tough tackling, high school standout in his final year.
As a senior, he registered 84 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. His performances earned him 2017 All-Marion County First Team honors. The 2017 MIC Defensive Player of the Year impressed programs with his athleticism, explosiveness, and football instincts. However, he never wavered from his July 2017 commitment to the Wolverines.
Cameron McGrone’s college football career at Michigan
After taking a redshirt as a freshman, Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone heads to the 2021 NFL Draft with just two years of playing experience under his belt. He took advantage of injuries in the Michigan linebacker room to make his debut against Wisconsin. From there, his play ensured he never looked back.
In his debut, he showcased his tackling ability with 6 tackles. He’d reinforce that skillset with double-digit tackling performances against Illinois and Notre Dame. Against the Fighting Irish, he had a career-high single-game 12 tackles. Displaying a penchant for stopping the run, he racked up 9 tackles for loss as part of a 65-tackle 2019 season.
Due to the disrupted Big Ten season, he saw action in just five games in 2020. In the opening day win over Minnesota, McGrone contributed 1.5 tackles for loss and a half-sack as the Wolverines surprised the Golden Gophers. His final season as a Michigan Wolverine lacked some of the highlight-reel plays of the 2019 season. However, he still ended the year with 26 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a half-sack in his limited appearances.
Following the end of the 2020 college football season, Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone announced his decision to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Analyzing Cameron McGrone’s NFL Draft Profile
Despite a relatively limited sample size, there’s good reason to expect Cameron McGrone will extend the Michigan linebacker selection streak in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s not going to remotely trouble the Devin Bush level of expectation. However, there is plenty to like about his game as it pertains to the next level.
As part of Don Brown’s blitz-heavy Michigan defense, he brings not just experience but a level of excellence when it comes to the blitz. McGrone is an explosive downhill banger. He thrives on finding gaps and bursting through them to impact the game behind the line of scrimmage.
Additionally, he displays good strength and violence in his hands when striking defensive tackles. Although he cedes a good 60 pounds to most offensive linemen, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the examples on film of his initial strike forcing them backwards.
He exhibits good tackling form both at the line of scrimmage and in the open field. He has enough speed to get from sideline to sideline to make a stop. The Michigan linebacker also demonstrates good instincts to track the ball carrier and find the football in a crowd.
Finally, he demonstrates decent coverage skills against tight ends and running backs.
What are some potential concerns with Cameron McGrone?
His lack of college experience could be the biggest concern for Michigan linebacker Cameron McGrone in the 2021 NFL Draft. He has made just 15 starts in 19 games at the college level. Additionally, there is a noticeable drop-off between his 2019 and 2020 tape. However, this could be attributed to him playing injured this last season.
Despite coming out of high school as an outside linebacker, he projects to play solely inside at the next level. He doesn’t exhibit the bend of an outside pass rusher. There are few examples of him winning outside at the college level.
For as much as he displays some good instincts on the field, they could be better. During play-action passes he can be late to diagnose who has the ball, often focusing on the running back before switching attention to the quarterback too late to make a play.
Cameron McGrone’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Michigan linebacker best projects as a middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense or as the interior linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Those alignments will make the best use of his explosiveness to burst through interior gaps and impact the game in the backfield. Additionally, he has enough coverage skills to be a three-down player in the NFL.
Some teams that are in the market at the position include the New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Rams, and Cleveland Browns.
In his latest big board for Pro Football Network, Tony Pauline ranks Cameron McGrone as his 81st overall prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. He also gives the Michigan linebacker a third-round grade as his sixth-best inside linebacker.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.