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2020 NFL Draft Preview: Digging deep for starters at inside linebacker

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NFL Draft is slated for April 23-25, providing seven rounds for the Broncos and other teams to find their stars of the future. At this point, Denver is slated to have 11 total picks, five of which will fall within the first 95 selections. In other words, John Elway will have plenty of assets to work with throughout the weekend.

What will he do with those picks? That’s anyone’s guess. But in the coming weeks, will provide an overview of the best prospects.

Today, we continue by looking at a position that most people consider a weakness on the Broncos defense – inside linebacker. Todd Davis returns in 2020 after Denver picked up the final year of his contract, but he’s a short-term answer. A.J. Johnson emerged last season as a nice surprise, but he’s still a bit of an unknown. And behind the two starters, only Josey Jewell has seen significant time on the field. So it makes sense that the Broncos would be looking for depth, and potentially a future starter, in the draft. Here are the players to consider for the job:


Top Five on the Board

1. Isaiah Simmons – In terms of versatility, there might not be a defender in this year’s draft who brings more to the field than Simmons. The Clemson star has the run-stuffing ability to play middle linebacker, but also has the speed to be a safety and/or outside linebacker at the NFL level. In today’s game, where elite tight ends cause teams fits, those skills will make him a defensive coordinator’s dream come true.

2. Kenneth Murray – At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Murray has the frame to fill the hole and stuff a team’s running game. With 4.5 speed, he also possesses the skills to play sideline to sideline, something that is invaluable in today’s game; that’ll also allow him to cover tight ends and backs out of the backfield, which makes him a three-down linebacker.

3. Malik Harrison – Harrison is the classic middle linebacker who can stuff the run; that’s his No. 1 skill set, as he’s great at shedding blockers and getting into the backfield. While he’s a terrific downhill player, he does struggle some when it comes to coverage. As a result, he’ll have to improve in order to be an every-down player in the NFL.

4. Logan Wilson – He started 14 games as a redshirt freshman at Wyoming, the start of what turned out to be a stellar career for the Cowboys. As a senior, Wilson earned All-MWC honors by posting 104 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, a sack and three passes defensed, which shows his ability to be all over the field.

5. Jordyn Brooks – Brooks has the physical tools to be a good coverage linebacker, but that’s a skillset he rarely got the chance to exhibit in college. He was strictly a run stuffer at Texas Tech, a role he excelled at; logging 20 tackles for a loss in his senior season shows what he’s capable of doing. That said, he’s a bit of a development project, which will cause his stock to drop.