There’s no consensus top player in the 2022 NFL Draft‘s linebacker class just yet. Can Utah OLB Devin Lloyd take advantage of this opportunity, complete his NFL Draft scouting report, and rise to the top of the group? It’s far from a guarantee, but he may have the traits to pull it off.
Devin Lloyd NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Linebacker
- School: Utah
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 232 pounds
Devin Lloyd Scouting Report
Early on in 2020, there were two linebackers commonly mocked in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft along with Micah Parsons — Alabama’s Dylan Moses and Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. When the draft finally rolled around in April, two linebackers did indeed join Parsons in Round 1. However, they were Tulsa’s Zaven Collins and Kentucky’s Jamin Davis.
The draft is unpredictable at every position, and linebacker is no exception. And when there’s no established pecking order or hierarchy, that unpredictability only festers. It’s impossible to tell which linebackers will crack Round 1 in a truly ambiguous 2022 linebacker class. But one NFL Draft prospect who has a chance to rise unexpectedly is Lloyd.
Devin Lloyd’s athletic profile
Recently, long and athletic linebackers have earned the eye of NFL scouts. Lloyd, at the very least, fits this criteria. He stands around 6’3″, 232 pounds, and sports a long, fairly compact frame, which helps to maximize his range in various situations. He has the size to linger closer to the line as an extra edge defender, and he has the length and explosiveness to knock linemen off-balance when engaging.
Beyond his size, Lloyd has promising movement ability. The Utah OLB possesses exceptional lateral explosion and twitch, with solid closing speed when honing in on the catch point. He no doubt possesses a degree of sideline-to-sideline range. He’s not quite an elite athlete, but he still has enough explosiveness and long speed to be a tackling threat wherever the ball ends up.
Together, Lloyd’s athleticism and length make for a dangerous combination, especially when he uses his length effectively. The Utes product can shed blocks and surge ahead to seal off running lanes. He actively extends his arms to disrupt passes in coverage, and as a tackler, he uses his length and closing burst to wrap up regularly. Lloyd squares up defenders well in neutral situations, but his physical traits allow him to work at a disadvantage and make up lost ground.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Lloyd’s solid athletic foundation is an important part of his NFL Draft scouting report. Moreover, his execution and football IQ make him unique from other linebackers. He is not only physically capable, but he’s also a smart, instinctive player whose game IQ regularly proves to be a tier above other prospects.
Lloyd is a stellar communicator pre-snap, and he’s proactive in seeking out mismatches, changing the alignment at times. At one point against Washington in 2020, Lloyd recognized a numbers mismatch in the trenches and rotated to the EDGE position, telling a lineman to move inside. When the ball was snapped, Lloyd exploded off the edge as a free rusher and tackled the ball carrier for a loss.
Beyond his pre-snap play recognition, Lloyd can also adapt mid-play as the situation changes shape. But while Lloyd is smart, he’s also an exceptional teammate and competitor. The Utah OLB is a high-effort player who always plays at full speed in pursuit. Lloyd is willing to encumber blockers to free up defenders, and he will lower his shoulder and throw his mass into opposing players.
Among other things, Lloyd has shown he can employ varying stride lengths when reading and reacting to plays. Additionally, he’s versatile. He can line up at MIKE, OLB, the edge, or even as a big slot on occasion.
Areas for improvement
Lloyd’s NFL Draft scouting report checks two very crucial boxes — mental and physical. However, as strong as his foundation is, there are areas he can seek to improve in 2021.
Athletically, Lloyd isn’t quite elite. His direction changes aren’t always sudden or smooth, and he doesn’t always keep his balance through these direction changes. While he does keep active feet, his footwork can be a bit choppy in space. Additionally, Lloyd can be somewhat tentative when clamping down on gaps, allowing space to remain.
Like many other linebackers, the redshirt junior does overshoot tackling angles at times. This isn’t a function of his long speed, however. His long speed, while adequate, is not quite top-tier. Furthermore, Lloyd can be looked off of receivers by quarterbacks who use their eyes, forcing him to play at a disadvantage on occasion.
Finally, Lloyd can also refine his skill set as a pass rusher. With his explosiveness, he no doubt has potential. Nevertheless, he can use that downfield explosiveness more freely as a blitzer. Additionally, tackles can handle his frame relatively easily on pass-rushing reps. Thus, some added weight might be beneficial for him.
Devin Lloyd’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Lloyd has been one of the Pac-12’s top producers on defense for the past two seasons, and that’s no accident. He has an impressive blend of athletic and mental traits at his disposal. He’s a great athlete, with the requisite short-range explosiveness and twitch to be a constant threat in congestion. Furthermore, Lloyd has enough long speed to supplement his range, even if he’s not quite elite in that regard.
What truly completes Lloyd’s profile is his mental makeup. He’s an intelligent defender who can read, react, and adapt better than most other linebackers in his NFL Draft class. There is still room for improvement, as the Utah OLB himself will first admit. But as it stands, Lloyd’s supreme closing burst, combined with his length and football intelligence, makes him a fascinating prospect — one that could ultimately challenge for a spot in the early rounds.
Devin Lloyd’s Player Profile
Lloyd wasn’t recruited highly at a national level, and some high-profile programs may be kicking themselves for that. From an early age, Lloyd was a promising player. As a senior at Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista, California, Lloyd already stood around 6’3″ and 215 pounds. He played receiver and safety, but it was clear his future was on defense. In that final year alone, he generated 8 interceptions.
As a top producer and a team captain, Lloyd might have expected more widespread interest. Yet , the West Coast product was only a three-star recruit on ESPN’s board and the 89th-ranked athlete in the nation. He received only one Power Five scholarship offer amidst a hail of inquiries from lesser teams like Colorado State, San Jose State, Utah State, and UNLV.
That lone Power Five offer was from Utah, and Lloyd enrolled with the Utes in 2017.
Lloyd’s career at Utah
Lloyd’s Utah career would go on to be exceptionally productive, but that greatness precipitated from a quieter start. He redshirted the 2017 season and was primarily a special-teams contributor as a redshirt freshman in 2018. However, he did gain a bit of experience on defense that year, and that experience prepared him for a rise into a starting role the following year.
Lloyd became a starting linebacker in 2019 and used that opportunity to explode onto the college football stage. The Utah OLB started all 14 games for the Utes, amassing 91 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 interception, 2 pass deflections, and a defensive touchdown. Lloyd earned honorable mention Pac-12 honors for his performance, and that was enough to encourage an encore.
In 2020, the Utes only played five games due to COVID, but Lloyd still put up massive numbers. He nearly matched his tackle-for-loss total in nine fewer games, accumulating 48 tackles, 10 stops behind the line, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. As a result, Lloyd was named a first-team All-Pac-12 selection and a finalist for the Butkus Award, which ultimately went to Owusu-Koramoah.
Devin Lloyd’s NFL Draft ascension
Lloyd could have gone to the 2021 NFL Draft. He had the requisite production and tape to do so. But Lloyd — who was made a team captain ahead of the 2020 campaign — is exhausting his college eligibility and delaying the NFL dream for one simple reason.
“More than anything, I want to win,” Lloyd said, via The Salt Lake Tribune. “I want to leave with a championship, with a nice little ring on my finger, hopefully a couple of rings. I want to bring guys along with me, too — I love helping others. I’ve said that before. I know this team wants to be great, I know I’m not the only one on the team that wants to be great.”
In a sport where individual achievements can become the primary focus, Lloyd’s unyielding belief in his team provides a stark contrast. Lloyd is only going to make the leap to the NFL when his work at Utah is done. That kind of commitment and resolve can be dangerous; Lloyd is indeed putting his health at risk with another year in college. At the same time, it should only make him more appealing in the eyes of NFL scouts.
When Lloyd moves on to the NFL, he’ll most certainly have a place to go. But until then, there’s unfinished business in Utah.
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