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Latest 2024 NFL Draft big board: Linebackers | Top 10 Tuesday

View the top 10 NFL Draft prospect rankings based on position


As your New Orleans Saints prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft, we take a look at the top 10 ranked players at various positions. The 2024 NFL Draft big board rankings are reflective of Bucky Brooks' top five 2024 NFL Draft prospects by position 1.0 and ESPN's NFL Draft "Best Available" list.

Here are the top ten ranked draft prospects at linebacker:

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 1 Edgerrin Cooper | Texas A&M

Edgerrin Cooper | Texas A&M
2023 Season Stats: 39 SOLO | 8 SACK | 2 FF

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Cooper comes into the draft with a player comparison of Devin Lloyd. The Aggies prospect is ranked number 1 on Bucky Brooks' top 5 as well as ESPN's Best Available. He plays the game at full speed, hitting with force and tracking down the ball carrier like a heat-seeking missile. The downside to this style of play is that he can occasionally overplay, causing him to whiff open-field tackles or over-commit to one side of the play. If he van become a more consistent player, he could be a force on the football field. Until then, he will need some time to develop and hone his craft.

Height: 6 feet 2

Weight: 230 pounds draft grade: 6.28 overview: "Highly physical linebacker with elite top-end speed and a burning desire to get to the football that can lead to some inconsistencies in his play. Cooper is average at diagnosing the run but takes off around traffic on a mission to find the ball-carrier once he sees it. He can be undisciplined playing his run fits and takes unorthodox paths downhill, but he somehow finds ways to slither around blocks and make challenging tackles. Cooper is a punishing hitter/tackler from any spot on the field, but he's going to overshoot the mark from time to time due to his lack of control in pursuit. He's a capable quarterback spy, can blitz the pocket and will be an instant hit on special teams, but teams will need to balance the inconsistencies with the passionate run-and-hit mentality."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 2 Jeremiah Trotter Jr. | Clemson

Jeremiah Trotter Jr. | Clemson
2023 Season Stats: 54 SOLO | 5.5 SACK | 2 FF | 2 INT

Trotter comes from a bloodline of athletes, making him an intriguing prospect at the inside linebacker position. He has been given a player comparison of Nick Bolton, which has definitely turned some heads in scouting departments across the league. An AFC executive said, "[He is] Really smart. Always under control. He gets guys lined up and he's really quick to read and react. If he was a little bigger I could see him going in the first [round]." While size may be a deterrent at 6'0, 228, Trotter may be a sneaky first round selection dur to his high football IQ and ability to play larger than his actual frame.

Height: 6 feet 0

Weight: 228 pounds draft grade: 6.29 overview: "Inside linebacker who plays with dogged determination and a nose for the football that helps him pack out the stat sheet. Trotter comes from NFL bloodlines and operates with consistency, play strength and a willingness to do the dirty work. He's quick to diagnose and moves with exceptional body control and footwork to play around bodies and get to the rock. He's not very big or long, but his football IQ makes it a moot point. He has adequate pursuit speed with good short-area burst and real talent in getting to the quarterback as a blitzer. Trotter can get to the ball with clear eyes and above-average efficiency and has a chance to be a long-time starter in the league."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 3 Payton Wilson | N.C. State

Payton Wilson | N.C. State
2023 Season Stats: 69 SOLO | 6 SACK | 1 FF | 3 INT

Hindered by injuries throughout his collegiate career, Wilson enters the draft looking to put those behind him and prove how valuable he can be to a defense. He finished 2023 with 3 interceptions, putting forward some good tape in coverage situations. He's long and athletic player with speed to match, running a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. If he is able to return a clean bill of health with the desire to put the injuries behind him, Wilson could become one of the premier players on a defense.

Height: 6 feet 4

Weight: 233 pounds draft grade: 6.32 overview: "Wilson's length and athletic profile could certainly push him up the board for some teams, but his history with injuries could tamp down his draft stock. He's free-flowing in pursuit and is at his best as a run-and-hit hunter rather than a static defender faced with a downhill blocker. He has the burst to shoot downhill and make a tackle for loss but lacks the demeanor or play strength to consistently leverage run fits. Wilson will find himself near the football frequently when allowed to play freely and avoid the mess in the middle. He has third-down ability as a blitzer and is a talented cover man who can play zone or man coverage. Wilson has early starting potential but scheme fit and medical reports will play a big role in his evaluation."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 4 Cedric Gray | North Carolina

Cedric Gray | UNC
2023 Season Stats: 64 SOLO | 5 SACK | 2 FF | 1 INT

Considered a very middle-of-the-pack prospect, Gray will be looking to prove that he can be a highlight play waiting to happen in the right offensive scheme. With a prospect grade of 6.11, has him as a "Good backup with the potential to develop into a starter". If he is allowed to play his style of ball, he may find himself in that starting role sooner rather than later. However, if he is forced to play a certain style in a specific scheme, he may be a special teams player for a bit before he sees any real action.

Height: 6 feet 1 1/2

Weight: 234 pounds draft grade: 6.11 overview: "Gray's production, length and play speed will work in his favor, but he is better suited playing as a weak-side 'backer where he can run and chase the action. Finding and securing his run fits can be an issue due to a lack of play strength and technique near the line of scrimmage. His instincts are just average, but Gray can be a disruptive defender when playing proactively and taking aggressive, downhill shots rather than waiting on the action. His playing style won't be for everyone, but he does have backup potential if he's allowed to cut it loose and play fast rather than with force."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 5 Junior Colson | Michigan

Junior Colson | Michigan
2023 Season Stats: 44 SOLO

Colson is an intriguing prospect. On one hand, he has the highest prospect grade on of anyone at his position entering the draft. On the other hand, Bucky Brooks listed him as the 5th best option at linebacker while ESPN has him listed as #2. Colson was given a player comparison of one of the newest members of the Saints defense, Willie Gay. If Colson can have as successful of a career as Gay has had up to this point, both his coaches and teammates would love having him on their team. There are a few areas of Colson's game that he could benefit from working on, but he is a plug-and-play starter likely from Day 1, depending on which team takes him.

Height: 6 feet 2

Weight: 238 pounds draft grade: 6.37 Overview: "Inside linebacker with an excellent combination of size and strength to take on blocks and patrol the action from the second level. Colson's upper-body strength and body control stand out when battling blocks or finishing tackles. He has adequate sideline-to-sideline range but needs to play with faster recognition to keep from getting trapped by climbing blocks. He doesn't play with a trigger-happy, downhill mindset, so he misses out on playmaking opportunities. Colson is a tough guy with good stopping power and can handle himself in coverage. He projects as a good three-down linebacker, but improving block recognition and taking a few more chances could elevate him into the next tier at the position."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 6 Chris Braswell | Alabama

Chris Braswell | Alabama
2023 Season Stats: 16 SOLO | 8 SACK | 3 FF | 1 INT

Braswell is a hybrid player with the ability to line up at outside linebacker or defensive end. He ran a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which is decent speed for someone at his position. Coming from an esteemed collegiate football program in Alabama should help him, but his lack of playing time over that span won't help his case. His 2023 season was his most productive, with his 3 forced fumbles catching the eye. If he is able to continue improving at the professional level, he can begin to fins himself on the field a lot more than he may have even initially thought.

Height: 6 feet 3

Weight: 251 pounds draft grade: 6.25 Overview: "Edge defender with good size and length but limited playing time over his four years at Alabama. Braswell chose to stick it out at Alabama rather than transferring and was rewarded with a productive final campaign. He doesn't play with great technique or anchor as an edge-setter and is average in taking on in-line tight ends at the point of attack. As a pass rusher, he gets off the ball with good burst and uses a variety of moves, speeds and angles to create opportunities but needs to add counters to his approach. Braswell might have a ceiling as a good 3-4 backup or average designated pass rusher with core special teams value."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 7 Adisa Isaac | Penn State

Adisa Isaac | Penn State
2023 Season Stats: 23 SOLO | 7.5 SACK | 1 FF

Isaac, like Braswell, is classified as an edge player on and a linebacker on ESPN. Isaac is entering the draft with a player comparison of Chase Winovich, who played 5 seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots and, most recently, the Cleveland Browns. Isaac plays with force, and he has the demonstrated ability to lead by example. His teammates at Penn State regarded him as a team captain, making him a valuable locker room presence. His pre-snap awareness is what you would expect for a linebacker, but his size makes it a little harder for him to execute the way he wants every time. An AFC regional scout said, "He's a little light but I really like the competitiveness and how he never gives the tackles a break. He's always through the whistle." He may warrant a Day 2 or 3 selection.

Height: 6 feet 4

Weight: 247 pounds Draft Grade: 6.23 Overview: "Heady edge prospect combining traits, tools and motor to create playmaking opportunities. Isaac plays with good recognition and awareness of his surroundings both before and after the snap. His snap quickness combines with active hands/feet to help him work his way around blocks at a solid clip. He's primarily an outside rusher with a decent inside move, but he needs to do a better job of developing counters and learning to work back under at the top of the rush to keep from being redirected. The anchor strength needs improvement to become a more consistent edge setter and rush finisher, but his production, length and motor could eventually earn him a starting job as a 3-4 rush linebacker."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 8 Jonah Elliss | Utah

Jonah Elliss | Utah
2023 Season Stats: 23 SOLO | 12 SACK | 1 FF

Ellis looks to enter the league and have a similar level success as his brother and former Saints linebacker, Kaden Elliss. Just like Kaden, Jonah is a bit undersized for what you may want in a linebacker, but he makes up for it with a high motor and agility. While his power game may be behind some other prospects, his elusiveness and slipperiness make it hard to simply ignore him completely. Even if it is not until Day 3, Elliss may just hear his name called and be given an opportunity to prove himself, just as Kaden was able to do.

Height: 6 feet 2

Weight: 248 pounds draft grade: 6.12 overview: "Elliss comes from a family filled with football players both past and present. He lacks ideal size and athleticism on the edge but the same could be said about his brother, Kaden, when he was a prospect, and he's now a highly productive NFL linebacker. Jonah plays with a motor that exposes blockers who aren't finishers. He doesn't have enough sand in his pants to anchor and hold an NFL edge in the run game but he assaults the pocket with varied approaches and a good inside spin counter. He needs more muscle but could become a rotational 3-4 rush linebacker with above-average special teams qualities."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 9 Curtis Jacobs | Penn State

Curtis Jacobs | Penn State
2023 Season Stats: 31 SOLO | 2.5 SACK

Jacobs finds himself towards the bottom of the prospect pool, but that does not necessarily mean that he won't have a spot on an NFL roster. He started 3 years at Penn State for a defensive unit that saw some success during his time there. He has good burst but average speed and a below-average pre-snap IQ. He may be able to find some time on special teams and in a backup role, but it would likely be some time before he is named a starter, if he is able to improve enough for that.

Height: 6 feet 1

Weight: 241 pounds draft grade: 5.95 overview: "Three-year starter with solid production on a unit that has been full of talent during his tenure. Jacobs has good size and play strength but offers average range as a tackler. He plays with active hands and can work around blocks, but he's often a step slow in diagnosing the play. Jacobs can fit run gaps and make plays that are in front of him, but he doesn't show consistent enough field awareness to expect he'll make plays on all three downs. His speed testing was average at the NFL Scouting Combine, but his overall explosiveness was strong, which could make him a Day 3 target with backup and special teams potential."

2024 NFL Draft prospects - Linebacker | No. 10 Marist Liufau | Notre Dame

Marist Liufau | Notre Dame
2023 Season Stats: 23 SOLO | 3 SACK | 1 FF

Liufau is an energetic player with enough burst to offer some value in 3rd and short situations. His burst is often counteracted by his impatience at times, though, causing him to overplay and become out of position. If he can learn to allow the play to come to him, he could be an asset to a team that takes a flyer on him on Day 3. Until then, he will likely be a substitution and special teams player until he can make the most of a chance he may have.

Height: 6 feet 2

Weight: 234 pounds draft grade: 5.91 overview: "Angular linebacker with endless energy but a level of impatience that can occasionally pull him out of positioning. Liufau plays with good short-area burst and a willingness to step downhill and leverage his gaps. At times, he will move unnecessarily and get trapped behind a second-level blocker or lose track of where the play is headed. Liufau offers third-down value as a spot dropper with good field awareness and might have enough man-cover talent to line up over big slot targets from time to time. He appears to lack the instincts to be a consistent tackle-maker as a pro but does have the qualities to potentially compete as a nickel linebacker with special teams value as a Day 3 pick."

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