The Linebacker – The IDP Backbone

Part 3 of our rookie deep-dive brings us to the middle of the field. True superstars of IDP, these do-it-all defensive anchors should be the first IDP players in your draft queue. Able to put up high tackles, sacks, and interceptions, a stud Linebacker can carry your franchise for years.

Isaiah Simmons

During an off-season which spoiled them with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins (for a measly 2nd round pick) and the shedding of David Johnson bloated contract, Cardinals fans were sent into pure delirium on the opening night of the NFL draft.

Having been projected to fly off the board with the 5th pick (to the New York Giants), the Cardinals front office will have been in disbelief when Simmons fell into their laps at number 9. The future pro-bowler adds to a scary-looking overhaul of the Cardinals roster.

With a historic physical make-up, the 6’4″, 238lb athletic freak ran a jaw-dropping 4.39 at the NFL combine. Simmons truly blurs the line between Linebacker and Safety.

In his final college season, the rookie recorded a ridiculous 104 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 3 interceptions, and 8 passes broken up. Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Tight Ends and Wide Receivers all fell victim to Simmons in college and the Clemson product is set to make life difficult for his new adversaries in the NFL.

Equally adept at pass coverage, run defending and blitzing, the former Tiger patrols the width and breadth of his side of the field. Simmons darts across the turf with signature blistering pace, targeting the unfortunate player that happens to be holding the pigskin.

Drafting Simmons will land your IDP roster a rare 2 for 1, an elite Linebacker/Safety hybrid. The Clemson graduate will instantly take his place atop the Arizona depth chart and will guarantee your franchise historic numbers. Draft Simmons or be the fool who passed on this year’s slam dunk rookie.

K’Lavon Chaisson

If Isiah Simmons is Arizona’s Linebacker / Safety hybrid, Chaisson projects to be Jacksonville’s freshly gift-wrapped Linebacker / Defensive end mash-up. AFC South Quarterbacks may need to become far more accustomed to the taste of turf.

A key member of the famed 2019 LSU championship team. Chaisson possesses a lightning-quick first step and an elusiveness that leaves offensive linemen grasping at thin air. The LSU graduate backs up his speed rushing ability with the size and frame. This allows him to take down any pass-catcher unfortunate enough to be in his vicinity.

Should edge-rushing ability and a penchant for full-bodied tackling not be enough to entice you, Chaisson is blessed with a high football IQ. This allows the LSU Tiger to also contribute at pass coverage, following wide-outs to the boundary and shutting down easy Tight End targets.

60 Tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 passes broken up do not begin to tell the story of an injury-ridden 2019 season. The Jacksonville rookie looks set to become a regular tackler with a fondness for sacks- a tasty recipe for IDP success.

Chaisson looks set to become a key piece for the rebuilt 2017 ‘Sacksonville’ defence that came so close to a place in the Superbowl. The 1st rounder will slot into a revamped linebacking corps alongside free agent Joe Schobert and Myles Jack. Recruit Chaisson and watch the sacks flood in. Tannehill, Watson, and Rivers, you have been warned.

Kenneth Murray

How do you improve a defence fronted by Melvin Ingram and superstar sack-machine Joey Bosa? How do you fully utilise the skill set of stud safety Derwin James? Enter new Chargers man Kenneth Murray.

Although rookie Quarterback Justin Herbert rightfully gained the headlines on draft night. Murray is primed to make a much more instant impact in L.A.

Described by Sports Illustrated as a Madden ‘create-a-player’, the 6’2″, 238lbs, and 4.52 speed Murray picked up an unfortunate injury during the combine. The L.A. front office will no doubt be eternally grateful this allowed them to scoop Murray up with the 23rd pick overall.

The Oklahoma State product is a fast, physical, and most productive when employed in and around the ball. Where the aforementioned Chaisson excelled in disrupting the passing game, Murray shines in stopping the run. The rookie Charger relishes in taking down runners. Spearing opposing Running Backs as soon as possible, and continuing his attack until they are but a heap on the floor.

102 tackles, 4 sacks and 4 passes defended speak volumes for a monster final college year. Murray showcased tackling proficiency and an acute awareness of the passing game. NFL runners have a new nightmare on the horizon and should he continue to develop his game Murray can become a true 3 down linebacking stud.

In an AFC West that exhibits some of the true offence superstars of the modern NFL. L.A. sought a key defensive piece to compliment Ingram, Bosa, and James. They drafted a true rhino in the middle of the field to take the pressure off Herbert, Tyrod Taylor, and the new offence. Murray rockets to the top of the depth chart and will become a tackle machine for both L.A and your IDP team.

Patrick Queen

Chaisson’s college teammate and fellow championship contributor, Patrick Queen hit a purple patch to end his college career and skyrocketed up NFL draft boards. Queen bid farewell to Louisiana to be remembered as a key part of their celebrated defense.

A proto-typical modern NFL Linebacker, the 6’1″, 229 Queen reinforces his safety size with 4.50 speed. Blessed with a physical profile tailor-made for pass-coverage. The Ravens rookie finished college with 85 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 interception and 2 passes defended.

Recruiting a pass-coverage specialist with a knack for sacks is no fluke by the impressive Baltimore front office. Queen is a dangerous Blitzer who loves nothing more than speeding into opposing Quarterbacks.

Although his physical profile may hint at a weakness at run blocking. The LSU graduate utilities great vision to cut through the offensive line and punish his intended target. Queen’s high college tackle count will have the Ravens fans excited at the thought of their rookie taking down rival AFC North Running Backs.

The LSU Tiger looks set to take advantage of a non-existent Ravens Linebacker room. He will slide into a day 1 starting spot alongside fellow rookie Malik Harrison. Speed, natural ability, and huge 10″ hands will have enemy offences worried all off-season. There may be no freshman Linebacker with a higher ceiling than Queen.

Jordyn Brooks

Should you prefer your Linebackers to be old school tackle machines. Our final prospect could be the most tantalising of them all.

No one could accuse Seattle of having a Linebacker room devoid of talent. Bobby Wagner may well be one of the best players in the NFL period and K.J. Wright has recorded 5 seasons with more than 110 IDP points. Add in 2019 draftee Shaquem Griffin and you boast an elite and relatively deep Linebacker corps. So what does Seattle do in the 2020 draft? Go and spend a 1st round pick on a Texas tackle hog.

The Texas Tech product never failed to record less than 80 tackles throughout his entire college career, finally completing his NCAA stint with a breathtaking 108 tackle senior year. Life just became that much tougher for offensive players in the NFC West.

Look closer at Brooks’ athletic profile and it becomes obvious why the rookie is so proficient in his tackling. Recording 4.54 speed at the combine (while rehabbing from an injury), the 1st round pick deals heavy damage to rival offences behind the line of scrimmage.

Many accused Seattle of a slight reach when selecting Brooks 27th overall at the tail end of the first round. Also ahead of fellow speedsters Patrick Queen and Willie Gay Jr. However with Wagner and Wright both entering 30 to begin the 2020 season. Pete Carroll and co. have made the bold move to set up the Seattle defence for years to come. Be patient; 2020 might be underwhelming but come 2021 and beyond you may have landed the best tackler in the NFL.

Those are the guys who will build the backbone of your teams for years to come. Head out and scoop them up.

-Dre @lil_carat


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