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Combine Preview: Linebackers

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Previewing the linebackers who will be participating in this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Kentucky vs Penn State Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into 2018, there was some talk about whether or not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the best linebacker group in the division. One which could match-up against most linebacker groups in the league, even.

Now, Kendell Beckwith has missed a full year with an ankle injury, Kwon Alexander missed more than half the season after tearing his ACL against the Cleveland Browns, and the team is on the verge of moving to a base defense requiring the use of four linebackers.

Standing tall at the AdventHealth Training Center is one Lavonte David. The lone shining beacon of starting NFL talent currently residing in the 2019 Bucs future. Beckwith is at least under contract, but I doubt anyone would believe missing his second year following an impressive rookie year was a positive thing.

With hope remaining Alexander might be back in Tampa this upcoming season, there is still at least one open spot and up to three. Whew!

Let’s look at this year’s combine linebackers.

2019 COMBINE LINEBACKERS

NAME SCHOOL
NAME SCHOOL
OTARO ALAKA TEXAS A&M
DAKOTA ALLEN TEXAS TECH
JOSH ALLEN KENTUCKY
BRYSON ALLEN-WILLIAMS SOUTH CAROLINA
JEFF ALLISON FRESNO STATE
AZEEZ AL-SHAAIR FLORIDA ATLANTIC
CODY BARTON UTAH
BEN BURR-KIRVEN WASHINGTON
DEVIN BUSH MICHIGAN
BLAKE CASHMAN MINNESOTA
TE'VON CONEY NOTRE DAME
RYAN CONNELLY WISCONSIN
DESHAUN DAVIS AUBURN
TYREL DODSON TEXAS A&M
T.J. EDWARDS WISCONSIN
EMEKE EGBULE HOUSTON
JOE GILES-HARRIS DUKE
DRE GREENLAW USC
NATE HALL NORTHWESTERN
TEREZ HALL MISSOURI
TERRILL HANKS NEW MEXICO STATE
CHASE HANSEN UTAH
JUSTIN HOLLINS OREGON
GARY JOHNSON TEXAS
JORDAN JONES KENTUCKY
VOSEAN JOSEPH FLORIDA
JOSEPH KENDALL CLEMSON
TRE LAMAR CLEMSON
DAVID LONG WEST VIRGINIA
CHRISTIAN MILLER ALABAMA
BOBBY OKEREKE STANFORD
GERMAINE PRATT NC STATE
CAMERON SMITH USC
TY SUMMERS TCU
TAKI TAKITAKI BYU
JAHLANY TAVAI HAWAII
DRUE TRANQUILL NOTRE DAME
ANDREW VAN GINKEL WISCONSIN
D'ANDRE WALKER GEORGIA
DEVIN WHITE LSU
MACK WILSON ALABAMA

BEST IN CLASS: JOSH ALLEN, KENTUCKY

When the NFL first released their list of participants, Allen fell into the linebacker group. Yes, he should be an EDGE defender. But for the sake of the league’s initial list and this series, he’s classified as a linebacker. Which is fine, unless you’re triggered by guys not be labeled as EDGE guys.

Beyond this possibility, Allen is projected as a bonafide star from day one. Honestly, I’m not as high on him as most, but I still think he’s very good and can be very good in the NFL.

Fits best at the next level standing up as a versatile linebacker rather than with his hand in the dirt, but he can certainly do both.

Chances are he’ll be gone before pick five ever comes up, making him almost certainly not a future member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

MOST TO PROVE: MACK WILSON, ALABAMA

This isn’t so much about Wilson’s ability. I think most would agree he’s a solid NFL talent with the potential to be a starter right away.

What’s in question here, is whether or not he’s drafted in the first-round, which is not guaranteed. Of course, as we’ve seen in plenty of drafts, nothing is.

Still, with a solid combine performance, Wilson can cement himself as a first-round favorite this April. The difference between being a day one pick and a day two pick are pretty significant, so Wilson should come in looking to turn some heads when the festivities get underway in Indianapolis.

MOST LIKELY BUCS DRAFT PICK: DEVIN WHITE, LSU

NCAA Football: SEC Football Media Day Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There shouldn’t be much surprise here. LSU has been a linebacker factory lately, and White is the next man up to represent the school’s linebacker lineage.

White has been mocked to the Bucs quite often, and it’ll likely continue to happen until the future of Alexander is known. Even then, he will still likely be a popular pick for the Bucs for the reasons mentioned above.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com has a grade on White which identifies him as an instant starter, which just so happens to satisfy my personal criteria for drafting a player in the Top-5.