Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

A look at this year's linebacker class.

Florida's Dante Fowler and Clemson's Vic Beasley lead a talented group of linebackers.

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> READ: TOP 5 LINEBACKERSLeading the pack: Florida's Dante Fowler is one of five linebackers that could be selected in the first round of this year's draft. He played in a two-point stance and with his hand in the dirt, but is projected as an outside linebacker at the next level. "Fowler is a competitive pass rusher getting by on athleticism and inside moves right now, but has a Pro Bowl ceiling with double-digit sack potential if he takes coaching and addresses his rush technique," NFL.com wrote in their scouting report on Fowler. Clemson's Vic Beasley, Nebraska's Randy Gregory, Kentucky's Bud Dupree and Washington's Shaq Thomson are also potential first-round picks. All five play on the outside.

The second tier: Miami's Denzel Perryman could be the best inside linebacker in this year's draft and he might still be available in the second round. He recorded 110 tackles in 13 games in 2014 and was a finalist for the Butkus Award, which is given to college football's top linebacker. A poor performance at the NFL Scouting Combine hurt TCU's Paul Dawson, but his tape speaks for itself. "Studying TCU LB Paul Dawson," NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah tweeted. "This dude is exciting to watch. Key/read/fill in a hurry!" Like Perryman, Dawson is projected to be a second-round pick. Also keep an eye on UCLA's Eric Kendricks, Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney, Clemson's Stephone Anthony and Virginia's Eli Harold.


The best photos from the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Mid-round picks:** Because he played for Chattanooga, an FCS school, Tull's tape can be difficult to grade; he didn't enjoy the luxury of competing against NFL-caliber competition on a weekly basis. But what he did do was dominate the things he could control. He was named his conference's Defensive Player of the Year three times, set his school's single-season sack record and was named a first-team FCS All-American twice. Tull also excelled in the classroom, earning a 4.0 GPA. He is expected to be drafted in the third or fourth round. Also keep an eye on Kansas' Ben Heeney, LSU's Kwon Alexander, Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha and Penn State's Mike Hull.

Sleepers: Lynden Trail's physical traits make him an intriguing prospect. At 6-7 and 270 pounds, the Norfolk State product has proven he can both rush the passer and drop into coverage. But he hasn't shown much on tape and had an underwhelming performance at the Senior Bowl. He is a project, no doubt, but has potential. Also keep an eye on Oklahoma's Geneo Grissom, Michigan State's Taiwan Jones and Baylor's Bryce Hager.

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