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2018 NFL Draft Preview: Linebackers

Posted Apr 23, 2018

The Rams will be on the clock at No. 87 for the first time in this year's Draft. Here's a look at some potential linebackers who could be on their radar.

The 2018 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and although the Rams don’t hold a pick in the first-round, the club currently still has eight selections to make beginning on Day 2. 

Because the Rams will likely be without both of their starting edge defenders from 2017 plus their starting middle linebacker, many outside of the building believe the club will focus on adding to their linebacker core this offseason.

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips recently supported that position, saying that although the coaching staff still needs to evaluate the team’s current depth, L.A. will look at all avenues to replenish the unit — beginning with the NFL Draft.  

“On a 90-man roster, we still need six or seven more linebackers just to fill out the roster,” he said. “[It’s] the same thing with most positions that you have, because you go down to 53, and now you have to get back to 90 somehow.”

Fortunately for the club, this year’s crop of draft prospects is reportedly deep at linebacker. And though some of the top-tier players will inevitably be picked up by the close of Day 1, NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter believes “there is enough talent to find good starters in the second and third round, as well as strong depth on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7).”

That’s good news for the Rams who hold one third-round selection at No. 87, three in the fourth, and four in the sixth-round.

On the outside, Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard, and Wisconsin’s Jack Cinchy are considered a few of the top potential mid rounders.

While Okoronkwo and Leonard are slightly undersized as compared with those linebackers graded above them, both make up for it with their aggressive style of play and hard work ethic. Cinchy, on the other hand, is overcoming an ACL tear that kept him out of the entire 2017 season, but is still considered a solid option when healthy.

The inside linebacker position also offers a few standout possibilities, including Iowa’s Josey Jewell and Vanderbilt’s Oren Burks. Jewell is the reigning Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year, while Burks is a small school standout with proven playmaking ability in coverage and against the run.  

And while it is nearly impossible to tell who will still be available outside of Day 1, there is some consensus among NFL draft analysts that there is plenty of talent to go around in the linebacker pool.