The 2023 NFL Draft Combine is the official start of NFL Draft season. While the actual NFL Draft won’t take place until April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri, the Combine gets underway on Thursday, March 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The inside linebackers will join the outside linebackers and defensive linemen on Thursday to get the Combine started.
This year’s linebacker class is fairly deep, but it isn’t as top-heavy as in years past. Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders is considered the top middle linebacker prospect. He should be drafted in the first round, barring a poor Combine performance. Sanders spent his first two seasons at Alabama but was tired of being lost in the depth. He transferred to Arkansas his junior year and showed off his talent. Sanders played in 12 games and had 103 total tackles, including 9.5 sacks with three forced fumbles and an interception.
You could make an argument that Sanders is in a tier by himself atop the position. The next closest would be Clemson’s linebacker, Trenton Simpson. If he had an outstanding Combine and then others projected ahead of him struggled, he could climb up draft boards. Simpson spent three years with the Tigers and totaled 165 total tackles with 13 sacks, three forced fumbles and five passes defended.
After the top two linebackers, there is another tier consisting of Alabama’s Henry To’o To’o, Iowa’s Jack Campbell, Washington State’s Daiyan Henley and Tulane Dorian Williams. These players should eat up the second and third rounds of the Draft and are expected to be role players on their eventual teams.
The rest of the prospects need good Combine performances to make any noise. There could certainly be some diamonds in the rough, but the majority of the remaining middle linebackers will either need to try and work on switching positions and going outside or plan on being deep depth on rosters or filling out practice quads.
2023 ILB rankings heading into NFL Combine
|Aubrey Miller Jr.
|Ivan Pace Jr.