Junior Colson’s Draft Profile | Michigan, LB Scouting Report

Michigan LB Junior Colson was a driving force behind the Wolverines' success, and his 2024 NFL Draft scouting report suggests the NFL is next.

Michigan’s defense played perhaps the biggest role in the Wolverines winning the 2024 CFP National Championship, and Junior Colson was a key cog in the team’s success. Does Colson’s 2024 NFL Draft scouting report suggest he can stay productive in the NFL?

Junior Colson’s Draft Profile and Measurements

  • Height: 6’2 1/4″
  • Weight: 238 pounds
  • Length: 32 1/2″
  • Wingspan: 77 1/2″
  • Hand: 9 3/8″
  • Position: Linebacker
  • School: Michigan
  • Current year: Junior

Colson’s journey is one of the most remarkable in the 2024 NFL Draft

He was born in Haiti. After his birth father passed away, Colson was left in an orphanage by his father’s will. When Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake in 2012, Melanie Colson met him on a mission trip and decided to adopt him from the orphanage.

After moving to Tennessee with the Colsons, Junior began playing football. Before long, he was a four-star and top-100 national recruit with offers from multiple blue-blood schools. He could’ve played in the SEC, but after meeting Jim Harbaugh at a Michigan football camp and receiving an offer, he couldn’t say no to the Blue and Gold.

Colson immediately made an impact with the Wolverines, playing in all 14 games as a freshman and being named a Freshman All-American. He followed that up with another stellar campaign in 2022 with 101 tackles and a spot as a second-team All-Big Ten player.

Colson’s effort and mentality saw him emerge as a leader for the Wolverines, and that role only grew in 2023. Colson underwent offseason foot surgery and played the second half of the season with a cast on as he battled numerous injuries. Nonetheless, he earned another second-team All-Big Ten spot, with 95 tackles, two TFLs, and two pass breakups.

MORE: Top LBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

After Michigan’s playoff run, Colson declared for the 2024 NFL Draft as one of just three true junior linebackers. And with his natural talent and desire to be great, he might just field early-round capital.

Colson’s Scouting Report

Strengths

  • Sports a dense, compact, and well-leveraged frame with good proportional length.
  • Nimble, explosive athlete with elite short-area agility and effortless energy in his motion.
  • Has the closing burst and speed to rocket through gaps and close ground in pursuit.
  • Has the effervescent short-area twitch to stay square and press the line versus gap runs.
  • Shows glimpses of good play strength and stack technique playing half-man in gaps.
  • Athleticism yields full-field range, as well as the speed to carry wheel and seam routes.
  • Adept zone-coverage defender with great leverage awareness and blind spot IQ.
  • Incredibly instinctive covering the middle and can quickly trigger and close on breaks.
  • Expertly manages route spacing in zone, sealing windows while staying ready to drive.
  • Uses his smooth lateral mobility and effortless transition freedom to keep hip leverage.
  • Flashes apt pre-snap recognition off motions, as well as discipline on option exchanges.
  • Sure tackler with superb pre-contact malleability and consistent wrap-up technique.
  • Instant explosion and tight-angle transition freedom make him a force in box pursuit.
  • Energized blitzer with ruthless energy who can erupt through gaps with his speed.
  • Motorized competitor and defensive leader with the toughness to play through injury.

Weaknesses

  • Play strength, while good, isn’t quantifiably elite, which can impact deconstruction.
  • At times, can better align his base to limit displacement against offensive linemen.
  • Can lose track of the ball off exchanges and get flushed out by second-level blocks.
  • High-energy athleticism can at times yield wasted motion when surveying run gaps.
  • Approach footwork can be uncontrolled at times, causing him to give linemen leverage.
  • At times, prematurely commits to interior gaps, cornering himself and opening the B-gap.
  • Processing in congestion can be hot and cold, and lapses can induce indecision.
  • Can be easy to bait into opening his hips and drifting out of gaps by pressing RBs.
  • Can be slow to identify and react to blocking angles and can be late as a result.
  • Sometimes overshoots pursuit angles as a QB spy, leaving outside running lanes open.
  • Struggles to parse through misdirection and can be lulled into freezing off the snap.
  • Occasionally lets TEs work across-face in coverage and fails to recognize QB intent.
  • At times, struggled to stay healthy throughout his collegiate career.

Current Draft Projection and Summary

Colson grades out as a top-75 prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. For teams in need of a WILL or potential MIKE linebacker that values blitzing and coverage utility at the second level, he’s worthy of consideration in the early-to-mid Day 2 range.

Athleticism and energy are two qualities at the very heart of Colson’s game. At around 6’2″, 238 pounds, pound for pound, he’s one of the best athletes in the 2024 LB group with his explosiveness, short-area quickness, range, and change of direction.

Colson has all of the desired physical qualities, and there are reasons to be bullish on his development. He’s already an impressive coverage LB with great blind spot and leverage awareness, stem technique, route recognition, and closing ability — and he’s a voracious blitz threat who always has his foot on the gas.

Even in run defense, the most volatile area for LBs, there are bright flashes with Colson. He’s flashed the ability to use his short-area quickness to sift through congestion and maintain gap discipline, and he can also use his length to establish half-man relationships on blocks.

However, Colson’s game runs very hot and cold in the box. Just as soon as he plays gap-sound football, he’ll prematurely commit to an interior gap, box himself in, or succumb to indecision against option and misdirection looks, letting blockers flow to his position.

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Colson might need an acclimation period against NFL run schemes — especially if the team drafting him has aspirations of placing him at MIKE. But with his high-end coverage ability, dynamic playmaking potential, and conducive run-and-chase profile, he has a lot of immediate appeal at WILL.

Right away, Colson can bring a jolt of life to an NFL defense, with an impact-starter upside at the WILL linebacker spot. And in time, if he can shore up his instincts in congestion against the run, he could translate at MIKE with his active pre-snap communication and tone-setting energy.

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