Bob McGinn is one of the best writers to follow during the draft, and his Draft Review piece is full of amazing information. McGinn talked with NFL scouts and his report is awesome. You can check out the other insider backers here in his piece, but this is what the scouts said about the top 4 inside backers in the draft.
1. MYLES JACK, UCLA (6-1, 244, 4.5, 1): Third-year junior from Bellevue, Wash. “I liked him better than (Jaylon) Smith,” said one scout. “Little more physical.” Rare ability to walk out and cover WRs. “He’s a slam dunk,” a second scout said. “He can play modern-day football, let’s put it that way. That (expletive) ain’t never leaving the field.” Finished with 178 tackles (15 for loss), 1 sack and 7 big plays (combination of interceptions, forced fumbles and recovered fumbles). “Just a freak athlete,” said another scout. “He is Von Miller freakish. He moves around like a DB in coverage. He has burst to close. Plays heavy. His character doesn’t read as clean as Clay Matthews’ but he’s more physically talented than Clay. The heart, the desire, he has that. The nick on him is he has had some cheap shots on him and he hasn’t been able to handle it in the most mature way….He’s not a leader. He wants to be one of the guys. There were some things he could have done differently in regards to how he treated people.” Started 28 of 29 before suffering torn meniscus Sept. 21 in practice and didn’t play again. Scored 25 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. Also rushed 68 times for 387 yards (5.7) and 11 TDs. “He could start for us at strong safety and be the No. 2 running back,” a fourth scout said. “He transcends today’s game.” Vertical jump of 40 inches led ILBs.
2. JAYLON SMITH, Notre Dame (6-2, 238, 4.5, 2-4): Third-year junior. “He was far and away the best,” said one scout. “He wasn’t just the best by default. He was the best in an excellent group of guys. It’s just a risk-reward thing now.” After being smothered by Ohio State LT Taylor Decker in the Fiesta Bowl, he suffered nerve damage in addition to two torn knee ligaments. “He’s what people are looking for,” another scout said. “He’s just great in space. But that injury isn’t good. You don’t have control of your foot. It just drops.” Finished with 284 tackles (23 ½ for loss), 4 ½ sacks and 6 big plays. Wonderlic of 18. “Not the brightest cookie in the room,” a third scout said. “Probably have to line him up. I don’t know if he’s a natural player but once he sees it he can find it and go get it. Now he’s got the knee and he’s not a very bright kid. I wouldn’t touch a kid like that. I have no idea where he goes. He’s off my board. He’s a run and hit ‘will’ linebacker.” From Fort Wayne, Ind.
3. REGGIE RAGLAND, Alabama (6-1, 248, 4.66, 1): Kept busy playing special teams for two years, started at WLB in 2014 and as the signal-calling MLB in ’15. “When he hits people they stop right there,” one scout said. “He’s a plugger. Good reading through hats, diagnosing quick. He can get sideline to sideline tracking people down.” Finished with 220 tackles (17 ½ for loss), 4 sacks and 8 big plays. “Very nice kid,” another scout said. “He’s gifted enough. His body is a little soft but his athleticism speaks for itself. Question is, can he be a three-down linebacker? That’s my only concern. If you really watch Alabama, on third down they don’t have him dropping into space. They have him rushing the passer (with his hand down outside). There’s got to be a reason they do that.” Administered the Wonderlic test twice, scoring 10 and later 15. “There was a little knock on him learning the playbook early,” said a third scout. “Talking to people at Alabama, you’re not going to throw an NFL playbook at him Day 1. But in time he will learn it. When he learns it he can retain it.” From Madison, Ala. “Great (expletive) kid,” a fourth scout said. “He’ll knock the (expletive) out of you. Fast, explosive, not very smart. That’s going to affect him on the next level.”
4. DARRON LEE, Ohio State (6-1, 234, 4.48, 1-2): Third-year sophomore from New Albany, Ohio. “Solid, athletic,” one scout said. “He can run. He’s smart (Wonderlic of 31). Not the most physical guy. But the way you use him nowadays he’ll have a role and stay on the field all the time.” Finished with 147 tackles (27 ½ for loss), 12 sacks and 7 big plays. Started all 28 games. “He’s not as good as (Ryan) Shazier,” another scout said. “He can go out and play in the slot. As long as he’s covered up where he doesn’t have to take on a lot he’s (good). He’s not Ragland, Smith or Jack playing the run inside. He can play it outside, though. More of a grab (tackler). Will he hit? Yeah. Is he tough? Yes, he’s tough.” Led all ILBs in the broad jump (11-1). “He’s a walk-out linebacker,” a third scout said. “A tweener, a safety and a ‘will’ linebacker. I don’t have him as a first-rounder. He’s not that big. He can cover backs. I worry about his size against tight ends. He’s above the acceptance level as a tackler.”
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