TDN Staff: Senior Bowl Linebacker Superlatives

Photo: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl less than two weeks away, the TDN staff is hard at work studying tape for the upcoming event. As a result, we're able to compile our annual (we did it last year at NDT) Senior Bowl Superlatives pieces on every position group.

Today, we dive into the linebacker class, with each evaluator offering their take on which linebacker is their top guy coming into the week, who has the most to prove and who is the sleeper out of the group.

Here's the squad:

Germaine PrattLBN.C. State
Bobby OkerekeLBStanford
Deshaun DavisLBAuburn
David LongLBWest Virginia
Cameron SmithLBUSC
Te'Von ConeyLBNotre Dame
Chase HansenLBUtah
Drue TranquillLBNotre Dame
Otaro AlakaLBTexas A&M
Terrill HanksLBNew Mexico State

Other Senior Bowl Positional Superlatives

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Tackles

Interior Offensive Linemen

Edge Defenders

Interior Defensive Linemen


Ledyard

Top Prospect: Bobby Okereke, Stanford

I'm not sure I'll end up with a top 100 grade on any linebacker in the Senior Bowl group, but Okereke is probably the one with the most upside. He can run and hit, but also misses too many tackles and isn't as consistently aggressive between the tackle as you'd like. His flashes are awesome, but can that become more consistent?

Most to Prove: Te'Von Coney, Notre Dame

Everyone knows Coney is a thumper between the tackles with an unbelievable frame, but can he run and cover? That is what all the scouts will be watching to see next week, as his evaluation hangs in the balance. Also, his biceps are insane, which is neither here nor there, just felt like pointing it out.

Sleeper: Otaro Alaka, Texas A&M

Picking a sleeper linebacker from this group is hella hard, but Alaka was a late addition that no one is talking about. I think he's a day 3 prospect, although I love his energy, instinctive-ness between the tackles and ability to rush the passer a little bit, but he's gotta prove he can cover and make tackles in space this week.

Crabbs

Top Prospect: Bobby Okereke, Stanford

Athletic linebackers will always hold a place in my heart. Okereke is certainly that much, if nothing else. This year's group doesn't have a lot of sex appeal but there are niches to be filled: Okereke's is the athletic eyeball tester.

I haven't dug into his film enough to know how quick his processor is, but in the meantime I'll bet on his upside as the one who can shine the brightest of this group.

Most to Prove: David Long, West Virginia

I love David Long's tape, he's constantly in the backfield. But here's the question: what does he play? West Virginia has played a 3-3-5 defense, which has kept Long in a hybrid, roaming role in the defense. Can he handle life in the middle and playing off of contact? I'm not sure, but I'm hoping to find out next week.

Sleeper: Drue Tranquil, Notre Dame

Tranquil is going to get dinged for some medical issues from his past, but he's always been a player that has shown up on film when watching Notre Dame. If he passes the medicals, perhaps he can be a mid-round pick. Staying healthy this week could put him on the Alex Anzalone plan. Of course, he's not the athlete Anzalone was, but the Senior Bowl showcase was what kickstarted his Draft circuit.

Marino

Top Prospect: Germaine Pratt, NC State

Pratt had a great senior season and can challenge to be a Day 2 draft pick, but he only started for his senior season after transitioning from safety. While he still had plenty of time on the field in 2017 in sub-packages, he is still developing as a linebacker and offers a high ceiling.

Most to Prove: Deshaun Davis, Auburn

A true tackling machine, Davis is hard to miss when watching Auburn’s defense. He’s the clear emotional leader of the unit and racked up 103 tackles and 14 tackles for loss this season as a senior. A limited athlete but able to play physically into the line of scrimmage, Davis would be a much more desirable prospect 25-30 years ago. In today’s NFL that is predicated on pacing and spacing while challenging the defense to defend the entire football field, Davis doesn’t have the skill set of an every-down linebacker. Can he prove to be more than that in Mobile?

Sleeper: Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State

Hanks transitioned from safety to linebacker for his senior season and there are a lot of traits present with him that NFL teams are looking for in second level defenders. Hanks does have upside in a pursuit-style role and in coverage. He is a high urgency player that would function well in a see and chase role. His experience at safety lends itself favorably to performing in coverage and he looks natural in both man and zone. He has the range NFL teams are looking for.

Sikkema

Top Prospect: Germaine Pratt, NC State

Pratt had a fantastic final season with the Wolfpack, and because of that he's knocking on the door as a potential hgih-end Day 2 pick. His ceiling might be the highest of any player in Mobile.

Most to Prove: Bobby Okereke, Stanford

Okereke has the most to prove because I think he could make the jump as one of the better and most highest drafted linebackers in the crop of guys at the Senior Bowl. Okereke has the athleticism to keep up with most players, which makes him that potential Top 100 pick.

Sleeper: Deshaun Davis, Auburn

As a late addition to the Senior Bowl, Davis makes my sleeper list because I really think he is being overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Davis is limited athletically, but he is called "the defensive coordinator on the field" by many at Auburn for how smart and instinctual he plays. I'm excited to see him in a new situation.