You all know the drill at this point. Hopefully you are enjoying this as much as I am. Even if you aren't, I'm going to keep doing it hehe. Last week, we touched base on the current defensive lineman that Scout and Rivals have a pulse on. There were A LOT of really good options. Those options will dwindle away, or commit, per usual, and more will present themselves.
This week, sticking with the defense, we'll explore who the current linebackers on the board are. Javaris Steward was listed as both a DE and a LB, but he was included in the previous list, so he won't be on this one. Let's get to it!
LB Tony Fields, Las Vegas, Nevada (Desert Pines) 6'2" 195lbs
I really like what I see from Tony's film. He's intense, high-energy, and fast. He's unique as a linebacker because he seems to move like a DB. He even plays WR, which is not the usual for a linebacker, rather they would most likely play tight end or running back on the offense. He had solid stats last year too: 93 total tackles, 77 solo, 7 TFL and 3 sacks.
OLB Malik Thirdgill, Portland, OR (Central Catholic) 6'4" 220lbs
Malik is all over the board. On Scout, he's listed as a LB. He isn't on Rivals, at least not in my initial searches. And Hudl has him listed as a TE/RB. Who knows where he will play at the next level. His RB usage seemed situation, but he was a solid TE. His size puts him in the LB mold as well, and while he had just 13 tackles as a sophomore (jr stats weren't available on Max Preps) he has the speed to do well there.
OLB Jordan Williams, Orange, CA (Lutheran) 6'0" 195lbs
There are MANY Jordan Williams' who play football in high school. A LOT. Anyway, Jordan has some great film. He isn't necessarily fast, but he has great agility, and to go along with that, great vision. He can decipher a play well and react to it seemingly before it even happens. Playing in southern California is no walk in the park either.
ILB Travis Hawkins, Veradale, WA (Central Valley) 6'1" 220lbs
Travis won't outrun a running back in a foot race, but he can run sideline to sideline with them. What stood out to me was his lateral quickness. It seemed rare for a running back or quarterback to get to the outside edge without Travis catching them.
ILB C.J. Araujo, Henderson, NV (Green Valley) 6'0" 215lbs
Two words come to mind to describe CJ: productive and punishing. Last year he was named first-team all-division after racking up 105 total tackles, 75 solo, 4 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. That is what I would call productive. And as far as punishing goes? Well, his tape is evidence of that. It seems he has about a 5 foot perimeter around him that, if a player enters, he will be destroyed. It's quite humorous.
ILB Breydon Boyd, Katy, TX (Katy) 6'4" 215lbs
Breydon is an imposing figure. At 6'4" and 215lbs, he's pretty big for a junior player. Throw in his sub-4.8 40 time and that's a recipe for destruction. He doesn't look quick, but I'm hard-pressed to find too many players able to run away from him without him ending up wrapped around their legs. I couldn't find final stats for his last season, but I have to imagine they were solid.
OLB Faavae Faavae, Santa Ana, CA (Mater Dei) 6'1" 210lbs
At first glance, Fa'avae's stats are pretty modest: 59 total tackles, 40 of them solo. Stroll on over to the TFL and sacks and its a different story: 19 TFL and 11 sacks. That was just last year. WHAAAA???? Yup. At 6'1" and 210lbs, he's on the smaller side of LB, if that's a thing, but 4.6 40 will negate any size disadvantage. No one can prepare for an individual of that size moving that quickly. Me likey.
LB Rahyme Johnson, Los Angeles, CA (Salesian) 6'4" 196lbs
Like Fields, Johnson is listed as both OLB and WR. To me, that just says "This kid is some kind of athletic freak and he will do some crazy things on the field." His 4.62 40 time will help him do that. He finished last season with 52 total tackles, 33 solo, 1 TFL and a sack. Modest numbers, but still solid production. The numbers are never the sole indicator of a player's ability.
LB Cam Trimble, Westlake Village, CA (Westlake) 6'1" 220lbs
Trimble has some Vallejo or Whimpey-esque numbers too: 118 total tackles with 61 of them being solo. He also had 3 TFL and a sack, but nearly 120 tackles in a season (11 games) is crazy. That's nearly 11 tackles per game. On top of that, he was named first-team all-league and all-county. He reminds me a lot of Vallejo too. He just seems to be all over the field, making plays.
If that isn't a solid group of players right there, I don't know what is. I'm thinking we take at least two linebackers this year with both Vallejo and Weaver graduating after the 2016 season *sniffle*. And they will need to be good ones. Fortunately, Riley Whimpey should be back from his mission the summer of 2017. Fingers crossed. Next week, we check out DBs. GO BRONCOS!