Top 10 Inside Linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft: Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean lead the bunch

Utah LB Devin Lloyd sits at the top of the group of inside linebackers for the 2022 NFL Draft, with Georgia's Nakobe Dean in a close second.

Who are the top inside linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft? Once considered a weak positional group, it’s flourished into a deeply talented pool of prospects with instant upgrades to be found both early and later on in the class.

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The Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board gives two inside linebackers a shot at being drafted inside the first round and grades another handful as potential Day 2 selections. All of the linebackers listed below are listed as top-100 players according to our consensus. Here are the top 10 inside linebackers for the 2022 NFL Draft.

10) Troy Andersen, Montana State

In an overall class of freak athletes, Montana State’s Troy Andersen might emerge as the unicorn. Running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at 243 pounds is exciting. Compiling a 36″ vertical and 10’8″ broad jump is exceptional. Earning a 10.0 Relative Athletic Score (RAS) will prove enticing for teams valuing athletic upside in their linebacker prospects.

However, what makes Andersen such a standout in this class is his unusual route to the NFL Draft. A former quarterback, running back, and fullback turned linebacker, Andersen is almost unique in this class. His length, explosiveness, physicality, and potential versatility all combine to make him one of the top inside linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft.

9) Leo Chenal, Wisconsin

At 6’2″ and 260 pounds, Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal has the build of an old-school physical linebacker. Sure enough, he’s a stout and physical playmaker. However, there’s a deceptive athletic profile lurking beneath that prototypical frame. Chenal recorded a 9.99 RAS after posting elite or great athletic traits across the board at the NFL Combine and Wisconsin Pro Day.

You can see some of that athleticism at work on tape. Chenal is an explosive gap penetrator who appears to be shot out of a cannon when working downhill. An impressive technician, excellent processor, and reliable tackler, the Wisconsin LB has the profile of one of the top linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft. Some improvements in his fluidity in coverage would help his cause as a three-down linebacker at the NFL level.

8) Brian Asamoah, Oklahoma

Brian Asamoah has physical tools in spades. His strength and speed combination is among the best in the class. He’s also elevated himself to new standards in 2021. Asamoah’s path of linear growth is a great sign for him and any interested NFL teams.

He’s missed fewer tackles this season and taken sharper angles in the run game. Asamoah may never be a great man-to-man coverage defender, but he certainly has an excellent feel for zone schemes at the next level. He’s firmly entrenched in the discussion for Day 2 at this rate.

7) Brandon Smith, Penn State

Brandon Smith has a great skill set for today’s NFL. He excels in coverage and has excellent size to clog up rushing lanes. He’ll need to tighten up his tackling ability as he adjusts to the next level, but Smith certainly has more than enough talent to get by.

While he’s been positive in coverage, Smith’s added a new wrinkle to his game in 2021. He’s proven to be a dominant blitzer and has forced errant throws with quick pressures more often than not. Smith has impressive vision and instincts that will go a long way at the next level.

6) Quay Walker, Georgia

In a Georgia team of defensive superstars — several of whom are on this list of the top inside linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft — Quay Walker perhaps doesn’t receive the attention he deserves. Don’t be fooled by that apparent lack of attention, however. The imposing LB has three-down potential as an impactful starter at the NFL level.

Walker’s coverage ability elevates his stock substantially. A stellar athlete who is able to stick with tight ends in man coverage, he also possesses the intelligence to cover in zone. Although slender at 6’4″ and 240 pounds, the Georgia linebacker is not lacking when coming downhill against the run or as a pass rusher. Explosive and physical, Walker’s nasty on-field demeanor will earn him a lot of fans at the next level.

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Which linebackers fill out the rest of the list, and who comes in at the top?

5) Channing Tindall, Georgia

Kicking off the top five of our inside linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft is another Georgia product in Channing Tindall. Just shy of 6’2″ and 223 pounds, Tindall is a little on the smaller side than Walker. However, what he lacks in size Tindall makes up for with an incredible athletic profile. His 42″ vertical jump and 4.47 40-yard dash both class as elite per RAS.

The speed is evident in his ability to shoot gaps with ease. In addition, Tindall has impressive sideline-to-sideline range. There are areas of his game that need refinement until he’s considered a true three-down threat at the NFL level. Yet, at least one PFN Draft Analyst has the Georgia LB as a borderline Day 1 prospect.

4) Christian Harris, Alabama

Considered the top linebacker of the 2022 NFL Draft class coming into the season by many, Alabama’s Christian Harris fell down draft boards as the season progressed. However, with his exceptional performance in the national championship — 7 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble — he’s certainly reasserting himself at the right time.

Although he’s smaller than some of the linebackers listed here, Harris is a fast and physical downhill weapon. At his best, he showcases technical refinement to shed blockers with ease in the run game. Despite having the athletic ability and prior experience of playing in coverage as a high school defensive back, this is one area where Harris could improve his overall profile.

3) Chad Muma, Wyoming

Laramie, Wyoming, is becoming an unlikely linebacker pipeline to the NFL. Logan Wilson was a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Former teammate Chad Muma has the potential to be selected even higher. A classic three-down player, Muma has the athletic ability, technical refinement, and football intelligence to be one of the top linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft class.

Muma has the lateral agility and handwork to comfortably beat blockers. He diagnoses and impacts the play in the run game. The Wyoming LB possesses sideline-to-sideline range. He’s a physical and technical tackler who rarely misses. With special-teams experience (and excellence) plus leadership qualities, there isn’t much that Muma doesn’t bring.

2) Nakobe Dean, Georgia

With the strength of an ox compacted into his 6’0″, 225-pound frame, Nakobe Dean has burst onto the scene as part of Georgia’s top defense in 2021. With incredible instincts and sure-tackling, Dean has provided an unstoppable force to the Bulldogs’ second level this season. His athletic ability is only matched by his football intelligence.

Dean’s run fits and speed to close space are among the best not just among linebackers, but among any defender this year. He’ll routinely challenge bigger receivers in coverage while stopping running backs dead in their tracks. Dean is the only challenger to Devin Lloyd’s spot at No. 1 on the linebacker board.

1) Devin Lloyd, Utah

The early-season LB1 among our top 2022 NFL Draft inside linebackers, Devin Lloyd has never deviated from that spot. As the 10th overall prospect on the Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board, he’s the top-rated linebacker by each of our draft analysts. The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year finished off his Utah career with 111 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, and 4 interceptions.

The numbers don’t begin to tell the story of the impact that Lloyd has on the football field. He’s versatile enough to play any LB assignment. He’s athletic enough to play sideline to sideline, in space, and coming downhill. When he explodes downhill, Lloyd plays with a jarring physicality. Against the run, in coverage, and as a pass rusher, Lloyd is impactful as a dominant and disruptive presence in all phases of the game.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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