Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Draft: Linebackers to Watch

A few linebackers to keep an eye on when the NFL Draft kicks off.


Linebackers participate in drills during the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Early on:** There are a handful of linebackers projected to be selected in the first round of the Draft, though it's unlikely the Buccaneers will target a player at that position with the No. 19 pick. Leading the way Alabama's Rueben Foster, Temple's Haason Reddick, Florida's Jarrad Davis and Wisconsin's T.J. Watt, all of whom could be selected on Thursday night. Foster is considered to be the most talented play in the bunch, but could slip further than expected due to off-the-field concerns. Despite recent issues, NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks both project Foster as a top-ten pick. Reddick and Davis are projected toward the middle of the draft while Watt is expected to go off the board late in the first round or early in the second.


NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock's top 5 players at the linebacker position.

Mid-round picks:** While the Bucs probably won't target a linebacker in the first round, they could certainly consider one as the draft progresses. Although the Bucs have two standout linebackers in Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, the team could look at add depth by adding a player in Rounds 3 through 5, particularly somebody who could step in at the SAM position. Michigan's Ben Gedeon is projected by NFL.com as a fourth or fifth-round pick and, at 6-foot-2 and 244 pounds, could fill the role on the strong side well. Also keep an eye on Florida's Alex Anzalone and Alabama's Ryan Anderson.

Late-round steals: We've mentioned him before throughout the offseason. As a player projected to be available in the final rounds of the Draft, Illinois' Hardy Nickerson is worth a look. His dad, obviously, was one of the most productive defensive players in Buccaneer history. But Nickerson's talents stand on their own. In his final two seasons, Nickerson recorded a combined 218 tackles, including three sacks, two interceptions and 7.5 tackles for a loss. Also keep an eye on Northwestern's Anthony Walker, a Florida native who played for a powerhouse high school program, Miami Central.

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