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While there are plenty of NFL Draft props on the board, one of the most predictable segments of these lines has been who’ll be drafted first at their respective positions. The quarterback, defensive lineman, and cornerback positions are almost assuredly locked and the linebacker position appears to be in the same range. Is Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons a sure thing to go first among linebackers or could someone else surprise?
Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Odds At BetMGM: -2500
This is the runaway choice for the top linebacker taken. It could be a form of cheating in that there is a chance Simmons could be a very physical and chiseled strong safety, but he will probably play as a linebacker instead of a strong safety. Simmons had a great combine as his straight-line speed, his athletic measurements, his precision and technique in drills, and overall ratings across the board were better than any of the other linebackers at the NFL Combine. There is legitimate discussion and debate over whether Simmons will be taken at No. 3 by the Detroit Lions and most rumors have the New York Giants in love with Simmons. At any rate, he’s a surefire Top 10 (and likely Top 5) pick.
Taking a look at the others, no other linebacker is going to be taken in the Top 10, so even if Simmons doesn’t go to Detroit at No. 3, a slight fall down the draft board means he should go no later than No. 7. It would be stunning if he somehow fell below seven, but even if he is taken in the back end of the top 10, that will be earlier than any of the other linebackers. He’s the best bet here.
Patrick Queen, LSU
Odds At BetMGM: +4000
The LSU linebacker injured himself when running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That simple fact will push Queen back in the first round, preventing him from being a Top 10 pick. He’s even moved behind teammate K’Lavon Chaisson, who is now at +800 on the board.
Queen was part of a National Championship defense at LSU and is fast and agile and – should he recover –become a fine professional linebacker. Yet, strictly in relation to his likely spot on the draft board, an injury is going to knock him down several places. It’s not worth saying more when that simple fact is sufficient to make the case that Queen won’t be taken first among linebacker prospects.
Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Odds At BetMGM: +4000
The story with Patrick Queen of LSU was replicated by Murray. He also injured himself when running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and will not be able to rise above Simmons on the draft board. Murray had a lot of responsibilities at Oklahoma and showed an ability to make plays all over the field. Yet, his own injury is going to give NFL teams reason to reconsider picking him. At least a few teams will get scared, and he will fall a few places down the draft board.
Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Odds At BetMGM: +8000
Baun did not have an especially good Senior Bowl week of practice or gameplay and is not viewed as being strong enough to hold up as an NFL linebacker. His speed is worthy of the professional level, but he can get manhandled if having to get matched up with a lineman. He won’t be able to get off the block. His pass rush also isn’t strong enough to make him a starter-caliber linebacker.