Top LBs in the 2024 NFL Draft: Ranking Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Cedric Gray, and Others

Several future NFL starters dot our rankings of the top LBs in the 2024 NFL Draft. Where do Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Cedric Gray, and others stack up?

The 2024 NFL Draft is incredibly deep, but the linebacker class has less consensus appeal. Who are the early-round prospects in the 2024 LB group, and are there any sleepers poised to rise later in the process? Our latest LB rankings hold the answers.

Ranking the Top LBs in the 2024 NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL Draft ended up having a linebacker go in Round 1, Detroit Lions selection Jack Campbell. But for most of the 2023 cycle, the LB group was notorious for lacking sure-fire first-round prospects. Campbell’s testing and production helped him, but even he had some holes in his composite profile.

A linebacker hasn’t gone in the top 10 since 2020, and the one drafted highest since then — Micah Parsons — has morphed into a full-time edge rusher at the professional level.

For years, it seems the LB position has been starved for blue-chip talent. Will the 2024 NFL Draft class change that? Let’s take a closer look and see for ourselves.

10) Tyrice Knight, UTEP

Our updated top 10 list starts with two under-the-radar LB prospects who accepted invitations to play at the East-West Shrine Bowl. The first of those is UTEP’s Tyrice Knight — a 6’2″, 240-pound playmaking machine who dominated in 2023. His play this season helped earn him a recent call-up to the 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Knight was one of the most prolific producers across college football in 2023, with 140 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and seven pass deflections. His disruptive ability in all phases and his finishing ability as a tackler bodes well for his NFL potential.

9) Aaron Casey, Indiana

Whenever you turn on tape for Indiana’s defense, you can’t take your eyes away from No. 44, Aaron Casey. He had 11 tackles and a TFL against Ohio State, two sacks and three TFLs against Louisville, and two sacks and four TFLs against Wisconsin.

Casey’s 2023 was dotted with spectacular performances. All told, he stacked up 109 tackles, 20 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles over the full season.

At 6’2″ and 245 pounds, Casey is one of the most explosive, physical, and tenacious downhill attackers in the 2024 class, and he could be a steal on Day 3.

8) Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State

Tommy Eichenberg had fans as a potential early-round LB prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle after experiencing a career resurgence under defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.

He racked up 120 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, a pick, and three PBUs but ultimately chose to return to school for the 2023 campaign. His production dipped in his final season, but he’s still an intriguing LB in the 2024 class.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Big Board

At 6’2″, 239 pounds, Eichenberg brings contagious energy and play pace at the second level. He’s an extremely explosive athlete, but 2022 was the first year he truly reined in his traits and learned to play with more control.

Eichenberg can stack and shed, invade gaps, and wrangle up QBs as a blitzer, while his hot motor makes him a constant threat around the ball. He could be more consistent in coverage, but Eichenberg’s ability as an attacking defender will earn him fans.

7) Trevin Wallace, Kentucky

A few cycles ago, Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis entered the offseason as a relatively obscure LB prospect and left the cycle as a first-round pick. While Trevin Wallace might not make it to Round 1, he’s a candidate to be a notable offseason riser in the 2024 NFL Draft class.

Wallace, who logged 80 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, and 5.5 sacks in 2023, sets himself apart with his elite athleticism at 6’2″ and 240 pounds. With his searing explosiveness, speed, and stellar proportional length, he can prey on ill-equipped runners in sideline-to-sideline pursuit.

6) Payton Wilson, NC State

Payton Wilson was a top-flight producer in 2023, amassing 138 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, three interceptions, six pass deflections, and a forced fumble.

He has it all as an LB prospect at 6’4″ and 235 pounds: Size, athleticism, range, tackling ability, coverage chops, and playmaking instincts.

For Wilson, the biggest question will be his medicals. He tore his ACL in high school, suffered another knee injury that required surgery in 2018, and missed most of the 2021 season with a shoulder injury. But if his medicals check out, Wilson can be an impact NFL starter.

5) Ty’Ron Hopper, Missouri

A few cycles ago, the Missouri Tigers saw Nick Bolton head to the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round. He’s now morphed into one of the better linebackers in the NFL. In the 2024 NFL Draft cycle, fellow Tigers standout Ty’Ron Hopper could follow a similar trajectory.

Hopper emerged with 77 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, a pick, and four pass breakups in 2022. In 2023, he added 55 tackles, six TFLs, three sacks, and three more pass deflections to his career totals.

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At 6’2″ and 221 pounds, Hopper can still add bulk to his frame. That lack of elite play strength does sometimes show up in the trenches. Nevertheless, Hopper is an incredible athlete whose searing change of direction and initial burst, both laterally and vertically, can cause chaos for offenses.

Hopper can get depth, read routes, and undercut throws with precision in coverage, and he has superb range and tackling ability. His versatility and active nature in all phases bodes well.

4) Jaylan Ford, Texas

The explosiveness of DeMarvion Overshown was a trait that won him fans among evaluators early on. Ultimately, his size/explosiveness combination played a significant role in earning him Day 2 capital from the Dallas Cowboys.

Jaylan Ford has that same combination, except he may be an even better pure linebacker prospect with similarly exciting versatility.

Ford, who’s listed at 6’3″, 242 pounds, was a third-team All-American and first-team All-Big 12 performer in 2022 after amassing 119 tackles, 10 TFLs, two sacks, four interceptions, two pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. In 2023, he added 101 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, a sack, two picks, and two PBUs.

Ford can blitz from space, but he’s just as dangerous in pursuit as a finisher, with his ability to rocket up, track runs, close gaps, and break down ahead of tackles. He’s a smooth and instinctive coverage defender who plays with keen eyes in space.

3) Cedric Gray, North Carolina

Cedric Gray‘s statistics from the past two seasons are simply insane. Through 2022 and 2023, the North Carolina LB logged 266 tackles, 23 TFLs, six sacks, three interceptions, 10 pass breakups, and five forced fumbles.

Gray is a machine, and his production is a byproduct of his strong 2024 NFL Draft profile. At 6’2″ and 235 pounds, he shoots downhill like a cannon and attacks gaps with unmatched tenacity. He’s a source of carnage in run defense, which is why his patience, discipline, and awareness catch the eye just as much in coverage.

2) Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

Perhaps the biggest riser of the 2024 NFL Draft LB class so far has been Texas A&M’s Edgerrin Cooper. Cooper put up 84 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and eight sacks in a dominant 2023 campaign and showed off traits that NFL evaluators are sure to salivate over.

MORE: NFL Draft Underclassmen Tracker

At around 6’3″, 230 pounds, Cooper has the size and explosiveness to generate awe-inspiring force as a downhill attacker, but he’s also very instinctive with the angles he takes and how he breaks down ahead of tackles. Couple in his coverage upside, and his NFL projection is exciting.

Who Is the Best LB in the 2024 NFL Draft?

Clemson’s Jeremiah Trotter Jr. is the LB1 of the 2024 NFL Draft on the latest iteration of our LB rankings. Read what makes Trotter such an exciting second-level prospect below:

1) Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson

One year after the Clemson Tigers boasted Trenton Simpson on the NFL Draft stage, the Tigers had two more potential early-round LB prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft. Barrett Carter returned to school, but Jeremiah Trotter Jr. — son of an All-Pro NFL linebacker of the same name — comes in as our top-ranked LB in the class.

In 2022, Trotter put up 89 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, two picks, and five deflections. In 2023, he nearly matched those totals but hit a new career-high with 15 TFLs and earned his second career pick-six.

At 6’0″ and 230 pounds, Trotter is a dense, well-leveraged linebacker over the middle of the field who offers great instincts and awareness for his age. He has a natural feel for how to combat, evade, and bend around blocks, and he’s a very reliable tackler with sturdy form and a strong closing burst.

Heading into 2022, Trotter already had an early-round profile with his traditional LB framework, but he took a step up in 2023 as a blitzing threat, weaponizing his explosiveness to terrorize offensive linemen. He’s truly the full package at the second level.

Honorable Mentions

  • Junior Colson, Michigan
  • Curtis Jacobs, Penn State
  • Omar Speights, LSU
  • Jackson Mitchell, UConn
  • Marist Liufau, Notre Dame
  • Jontrey Hunter, Georgia State
  • Michael Barrett, Michigan

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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