Linebacker isn't quite the game changing position that it once was. Ten years ago, the first round of the NFL Draft may have been littered with linebackers, both inside and outside. But the position is in transition. While 3-4 outside linebackers are still at a premium, finding inside linebackers and outside backers for the 4-3 can wait until the middle rounds.
Sleeper linebackers are a dime a dozen, and many of them are able to step in as rookies and make an impact. Who will those players be this year? We'll take a look at a handful of underrated linebackers across various defensive schemes.
Let's get to it.
Bobby Wagner, Utah State
After opening eyes at the 2012 Senior Bowl, Bobby Wagner may not be as much of a sleeper. But he is still widely underrated if you consider the possible impact he could make as a rookie. Wagner closes on the ball extremely well and is a punishing tackler. If given the opportunity, Wagner could be an opening week starter and put up solid production.
Demario Davis, Arkansas State
Every time Arkansas State played this fall, one player was buzzing around on defense constantly making plays. Demario Davis was that guy, using his range and quickness to make ten tackles for a loss this season. He can be a bit over-agressive at times, but if his NFL coach can reign him in, Davis could be a big time producer on Sundays.
3-4 Outside Backer
Kyle Wilber, Wake Forest
Playing exclusively at 3-4 outside linebacker while at Wake Forest, Kyle Wilber is an experienced player who will transition nicely to the same position in the NFL. He has an incredibly long wingspan and is a fundamentally sound tackler in space. Wilber is reliable in coverage due to his athleticism, but it's his edge rush ability that makes him an intriguing mid-round pick.
Shawn Loiseau, Merrimack College
Off the field issues forced Shawn Loiseau to settle for D-II college football, but his standout career at Merrimack College still makes him a quality draft prospect. Speed and explosion are two striking elements of Loiseau's game, and he shows an impressive ability to track down the ball and make plays. Loiseau plays angry and absolutely destroys ball carriers. And few players have the work ethic that Loiseau displays.
His baggage comes from one single night in high school, when he got in a fight outside of his Shrewsbury, Mass. home. After being struck with a pipe, resulting in 28 stitches to his forehead, Loiseau slammed his attacker's head on the pavement, putting him in a coma, according to Boston.com. That one night derailed any shot he had at playing college football at the Division I level. But instead of quitting, Loiseau stuck with it and worked hard to become a dominant Division-II player. Who's to say he can't do the same in the NFL?
Which mid-round linebackers would you guys take a chance on?