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    2024 NFL Draft LB Rankings: Top Players Include Edgerrin Cooper, Payton Wilson, Junior Colson

    Several future NFL starters dot our rankings of the top LBs in the 2024 NFL Draft. Where do Edgerrin Cooper, Payton Wilson, 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 surprise over the three days of the draft? 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. But for most of the 2023 cycle, the LB group was notorious for lacking surefire first-round prospects. Jack Campbell’s testing and production helped him, but even he had some holes in his composite profile.

    A linebacker hasn’t been drafted 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. The 2024 NFL Draft might not change that, but there is plenty of talent to be aware of.

    10) Jaylan Ford, Texas

    Jaylan Ford 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.

    At 6’2 3/8″, 240 pounds, Ford can blitz through gaps, but he’s just as dangerous in pursuit as a finisher, with his ability to rocket up, track runs, close ground, and break down ahead of tackles. He’s a smooth and instinctive coverage defender who plays with keen eyes in space.

    9) 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.

    MORE: 2024 NFL Combine Results — 40-Yard Dash, Bench Press, Vertical, 3-Cone, and More

    At 6’2″ and 231 pounds, Hopper can still add bulk to his frame. That lack of elite play strength does sometimes show up in the trenches. Nevertheless, the Missouri product is a stellar 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.

    8) Tyrice Knight, UTEP

    Our updated top 10 list includes an under-the-radar LB prospect who accepted an invitation to play at the East-West Shrine Bowl: UTEP’s Tyrice Knight — a 6’1″, 233-pound playmaking machine who dominated in 2023. His play across the 2023 season helped earn him a call-up to the 2024 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 finishing ability as a tackler bodes well for his NFL potential.

    7) 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 — is still in the mix.

    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.

    6) James Williams, Miami (FL)

    James Williams was a highly-regarded safety prospect who played alongside Kamren Kinchens on the back end for the Miami Hurricanes. But now that he’s entered the 2024 NFL Draft pool, most evaluators have circled him as a candidate to make a move closer to the line.

    First and foremost, Williams should translate well as a hybrid WILL linebacker, given his size. He’s 6’4″, 230 pounds, with near-34″ arms. But Williams is also exceedingly fast and physical in the box, with the frame, ferocity, and first-step explosiveness to function as a sledgehammer in support.

    5) Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

    Perhaps the biggest riser of the 2024 NFL Draft LB class since the summer 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.

    At around 6’2″, 230 pounds, with 34″ arms, Cooper has the size and explosiveness to generate awe-inspiring force as a downhill attacker. He’s also very instinctive with the angles he takes and how he breaks down ahead of tackles. Couple that with his coverage upside, and his NFL projection is exciting.

    4) 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.

    3) Junior Colson, Michigan

    In a linebacker class that isn’t settled at the top, upwards of a half-dozen players could be the first positional prospect off the board. If teams are banking on the upside and developmental potential, few present more compelling arguments than Junior Colson.

    At 6’2″, 238 pounds, with near-33″ arms, Colson has a stellar build and athletic foundation, and the fruits of that profile are clear in coverage, where he has the burst and fluidity to get depth and cover intermediate zones. His gap processing runs hot and cold, but his ceiling is incredibly high — and he’s as tough as they come.

    2) 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 6’1″ and 237 pounds. With his searing explosiveness, speed, and stellar proportional length, he can prey on ill-equipped runners in sideline-to-sideline pursuit.

    Who Is the Best LB in the 2024 NFL Draft?

    NC State’s Payton Wilson is the LB1 of the 2024 NFL Draft on the final iteration of our LB rankings. Read what makes Wilson such an exciting second-level prospect below:

    1) 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 is the most complete LB in the 2024 NFL Draft — with near-4.4 speed to match.

    Honorable Mentions

    • Darius Muasau, UCLA
    • Aaron Casey, Indiana
    • Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State
    • Edefuan Ulofoshio, Washington
    • Jordan Magee, Temple
    • Curtis Jacobs, Penn State
    • Omar Speights, LSU
    • Jackson Mitchell, UConn
    • Marist Liufau, Notre Dame
    • 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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