Full disclaimer: as some of you may know, I am from England, so I do not watch any college football during the season and I go into this process with absolutely no preconceptions about who I’m about to watch. I watch at least three games of each player I rank, but I cannot share any film with you here because sharing college All22 online is dangerous and I do not want to be blocked!
These rankings are based on how I think these prospects would fit the Eagles’ scheme or who I want the most based on who the Eagles already have at a certain position. This is very important, so please keep this in mind! Therefore, sometimes I may have one player above another, even if I think the other player is a better overall prospect. If a player isn’t on this list, I haven’t watched them yet! I have also put them into tiers because sometimes there isn’t a lot of difference between prospects, and I find the tiers useful to separate players.
1. Jack Campbell, Iowa
Campbell is the opposite of Simpson, Sanders, and Henley, as he looks like a much more ‘traditional’ linebacker than the other top guys who are more ‘tweeners’. He is an extremely athletic, big, and fast linebacker who has good instincts against the run and in zone coverage. He does everything pretty well and looks the part of a consistent starting linebacker. He isn’t as twitchy on film as his tape suggests and can struggle with a change of direction, but I really like him.
Eagles Thoughts: This is the guy I want to pair with Nakobe Dean. I think he’s the best fit of the linebackers at the top of this class for the Eagles and I hope he makes it to the Eagles 2nd round pick. Dean and Morrow are both undersized and pairing them with someone like Jack Campbell should work really well. I also think he makes sense if the Eagles want to run fewer 5-man fronts next year as he is willing to take on blocks.
2. Trenton Simpson, Clemson
Simpson has a really high ceiling due to his athleticism, but he has quite a few areas to work on. He is seriously athletic, fast, and fluid. The best thing he showed me was the ability to cover the slot and run with tight ends vertically, this is a huge part of the modern game. He is also an effective blitzer. He doesn’t have perfect instincts though, especially in zone coverage, and misses a few too many tackles, but he has a lot of talent.
Eagles Thoughts: I prefer Simpson over Sanders for the Eagles because I would probably rather have someone who is more of a coverage linebacker than someone who excels as a blitzer because of what Nakobe Dean always brings to the Eagles. I’m not sold on either as a 1st round pick at all though, but I do think you could make an argument for either in the 2nd.
3. Drew Sanders. Arkansas
Drew Sanders feels a little bit of a boom-bust prospect because he is a fantastic athlete who is seriously raw after only playing 1 year as a MIKE linebacker. He shows EDGE traits and will be outstanding for a team that wants to blitz their linebackers a lot. He has sideline-to-sideline range but he misses a ton of tackles and doesn’t show natural instincts and needs to be stronger in taking on blocks against the run. You will have to hope your coaching staff can develop that. I wasn’t sure about his instincts in coverage and in space either, he feels a beat too late, which contributes to his missed tackles.
Eagles Thoughts: If the Eagles are blitzing a linebacker next year, I feel like Nakobe Dean should be the guy doing it. I don’t see Sanders being a great fit because of that (unless Desai is going to blitz a lot more than I think) and I wouldn’t consider him until round 2 at the very earliest. Sanders, Dean, and Morrow would be a fast trio of linebackers though!
4. Daiyan Henley, Nevada
Henley is a funny prospect because I don’t think you get many linebackers who have played WR, QB, and safety. He’s only been a linebacker for 2 years and it shows. He is raw, inexperienced, and seriously light. But, he is fast and fluid in coverage and is very quick and sudden in all his movements. At worst, he could be a really good option on special teams, but I think there is something there. I liked him the more I watched, and he is someone I am keeping a close eye on.
Eagles Thoughts: I like Henley’s athletic profile and the ability to play special teams will appeal to a lot of teams. I am not sure this is the best fit for the Eagles considering how light their linebackers already are, but in a weird way, he sort of reminded me of TJ Edwards. If the Eagles want to keep playing a lot of 5-2 fronts where Henley doesn’t need to be a traditional ‘MIKE’ build, then I think he could absolutely play alongside Dean and could be a really useful option. I am very interested in Henley when it comes to round 3.
5. Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama
I’m not sure Henry To’oto’o profiles as a starter unless he improves a fair bit at the next level. He is light and undersized and shows a real lack of instincts in coverage, having 0 pass breakups in 878 coverage snaps. That stat is... not good. He is aggressive downhill and is a fearless hitter, but it’s hard to see a starting linebacker being undersized yet showing little instincts in coverage.
Eagles Thoughts: I wouldn’t look at To’oTo’o until day 3, but I would consider him as a good backup option in round 4 as he is a reliable experienced player who should know his role well.
6. Noah Sewell, Oregon
I wanted to watch Noah Sewell, as he was one of the only linebackers who weighed above 240 lbs in all of Dane Brugler’s 35 linebackers he had ranked (which is insane, by the way). Sewell looks like an old-school classic ‘MIKE’ thumper who is physical, tough, and big. He’s not a player you want in passing downs or dropping into coverage frequently and his play in space is a concern.
Eagles Thoughts: I watched Sewell specifically because I think he could be a target in this year’s class. The Eagles are currently very light at linebacker, and if they want to play more old school 4-3 as a base defense this year at times, Sewell would be able to give them an early down ‘thumper’ who can help against teams who like to run the ball a lot. He’s not going to be fantastic, but I think Sewell can do a very specific job. If the Eagles feel like they need someone for that job, I wouldn’t mind Sewell around round 4/5.
7. Dorian Williams, Tulane
Williams looks like a solid backup rather than a starter due to his size and inability to get off blocks. He isn’t a great run defender but he does have some upside as he is long and fast with good acceleration and is still young. He looks like he should be a fantastic special teamer who can fit as a WILL or as a backup, especially for teams who play with 5-man fronts and want a linebacker who can shoot gaps rather than take on blocks.
Eagles Thoughts: I like Williams as a good special teamer who can be a decent backup linebacker but I wouldn’t consider him until day 3, probably around the 4th/5th round. He has many of the tools you look for but improving his play against the run will not be easy.