FLOWERY BRANCH -- Here are the top 10 linebacker prospects (with projected draft round) for the 2016 NFL draft, which is set for Thursday through Saturday in Chicago:
1. Myles Jack, 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, UCLA (first): He’s considered the top linebacker in the draft, but may slip because of medical concerns about his right knee. Former Falcons coach Jim Mora was Jack’s head coach and compares him athletically to Michael Vick and Julius Peppers. The former running back can play all three positions and make plays from sideline-to-sideline.
2. Noah Spence, 6-3, 254, Eastern Kentucky (first): He started his career at Ohio State, but was suspended after a second failed drug test and was later ruled permanently ineligible. The five-star recruit had a spectacular sophomore season, leading the Buckeyes with eight sacks, 14.5 tackles for losses and was named to the All-Big Ten team. With the Colonels, Spence had 22.5 tackles for losses and 11.5 sacks. He has all of the pass-rushing traits that teams look for, but there’s an issue of trusting him to stay away from drugs after he signs a multi-million dollar contract.
3. Reggie Ragland, 6-1 ¼, 247, Alabama (first): He’s considered the top middle linebacker in the draft. Ragland, who looked comfortable at strongside linebacker during the Senior Bowl, has loss some weight after showing up at 259 pounds. He returned for his senior season at Alabama after receiving a projected second-round grade before the draft in 2015.
4. Leonard Floyd, 6-5 5/8, 244, Georgia (first): He has excellent pass rushing ability and may be selected in the top 10. “Leonard Floyd is one of my most conflicted players,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. He noted that Floyd gets blocked easily if he doesn’t win with his speed. “That worries me,” he said.
5. Darron Lee, 6-1, 235, Ohio State (first): He was a second-team All-Big 10 pick. He has the range and speed to play in space in the NFL. He was a two-year starter for the Buckeyes. He was recruited as a safety and is one of the linebackers in the draft who could move back and play safety like Falcons coach Dan Quinn pointed out Thursday.
6. Kamaei Correa, 6- 2 5/8, 240, Boise State (late first, second): He was a second-team All-Mountain West pick last season after making the first-team in 2014. His two older brothers played at Hawaii. He plays well in space and is considered a 3-4 outside linebacker. He started 27 of 40 games and had 31.5 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. Quinn was present for his Pro Day.
7. Jordan Jenkins, 6-3, 257, Georgia (third): NFL scouts like prospects with military backgrounds and Jenkins is the son of an Army man. He lived in five states before settling in Georgia and playing at Harris County. He played as freshman for the Bulldogs. NFL scouts are aware that he played last season with a groin injury.
8. Kyler Fackrell, 6-5, 245, Utah State (second/third): He’s one of those high-motor guys with a big upside. He started 13 games last season and made 82 tackles, 15 tackles for losses, four sacks and two forced fumbles.
9. Yannick Ngakoue, 6-2, 252, Maryland (fifth/sixth): He played some defensive end last season, but projects as a linebacker into the NFL. He set the Maryland sack record last season with 13.5. He started 11 of 12 games.
10. Kentrell Brothers, 6-1, 245, Missouri (fifth/sixth): He was the nation’s leading tackler with 152 tackles from his weakside linebacker position. He also played on special teams for the Tigers and blocked three kicks.
Top 5 seniors for the 2017 draft: 1. Skai Moore, South Carolina. 2. Josh Carraway, TCU. 3. Tim Williams, Alabama. 4. Rueben Foster, Alabama. 5. Hardy Nickerson, Illinois.
The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter gives his top players for the Falcons to draft at #17, talks about the interest in LB Myles Jack & tells CineSport’s Noah Coslov where the team may go in round 2.
NFL DRAFT 2016 – POSITION BY POSITION SERIES
Sunday, April 17 -- QUARTERBACKS
Monday -- RUNNING BACKS
Tuesday - WIDE RECEIVERS
Wednesday -- TIGHT ENDS
Thursday -- OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Friday -- DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Saturday, April 23 -- LINEBACKERS
D. Led’s breakdown of the Linebackers
A look at the top 10 linebackers
Sunday, April 24 -- CORNERBACKS
D. Led’s breakdown of the cornerbacks
A look at the top 10 cornerbacks
Monday, April 25 -- SAFETIES
D. Led’s breakdown of the Safeties
A look at the top 10 Safeties
Tuesday, April 26
D. Led’s breakdown of the Specialists, kickers, punters and returners
Position by position: Specialists chart
Wednesday, April 27
Final mock draft