The Most-Interesting Rookie LB

The Footballguys staff discusses the top rookie linebackers

Links to similar discussions on other positions:

Each year, the incoming group of rookies offers hope for the new season. We asked our staff to offer up the rookie linebacker they are most interested in.

Here are the names who were mentioned.

And here are all of the reasons.

Jason Wood

The NFC East added a trio of linebackers who all should play significant roles as rookies. Micah Parsons to the Cowboys is the most notable because he went high and likely steps in for Leighton Vander Esch, who is just a few years removed from his own mountainous rookie expectations. The Giants added Azeez Ojulari, who should provide a boost to a pass rush that was perhaps the missing piece to a top-10 defense. But my choice for most interesting is Jamin Davis, Washington's first-round selection. Washington won the division last year thanks to an elite defense and returned all its key pieces. The only spot in need of an obvious upgrade was at linebacker, where incumbents Jon Bostic and Cole Holcomb are serviceable but not dynamic playmakers who change the outcome of a game. Davis could be that impact player after a meteoric rise up draft boards.

Sigmund Bloom

Parsons and Davis are the marquee guys for sure. Zaven Collins being installed as an ILB so much so that the Cardinals are allowing Jordan Hicks to seek a trade certainly raised eyebrows. In the second round, Nick Bolton (KC) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (CLE), and Pete Werner (NO) can easily become three-down players in short order.

However, the most interesting linebackers to track come from the fourth round. Jabril Cox was coveted by Dallas and he is one of the best coverage linebackers in the draft. If Jaylon Smith drops off at all, Cox could replace him in 2022. Derrick Barnes is the most intriguing to me. The Lions traded next year's fourth to move up for him and declared him a middle linebacker, giving him #55. He has a background as an edge rusher and is new to inside linebacker, but doesn't have any long-term competition for the job and could add fantasy punch if the team uses him as a pass rusher at times.

Ryan Weisse

Not going to lie, Parsons and Davis are also the most interesting for me. Both are athletic monsters and landed in excellent spots. Washington is one of my favorite team defenses for fantasy this season, and Dallas could improve greatly. For the sake of diversity, I'm going to go back to a defense I've mentioned many times in this series, the Cleveland Browns. In the second round, Cleveland may have gotten a steal in Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He was the 2021 Butkus Award Winner for best linebacker in the country and fills a pretty immediate need for the Browns defense. He should see the field early and often and could make some big plays while offenses are focused on slowing down Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.

Jeff Haseley

Micah Parsons and Jamin Davis have a Devin White/Devin Bush combination feel to them. You may recall Bush and White burst onto the scene in 2019 as rookie linebackers for the Steelers and Buccaneers. Both Parsons and Davis will see immediate action on their perspective teams with adequate fantasy return in IDP leagues. Another slightly lesser-known IDP commodity who could turn heads beginning this year is Derrick Barnes of Detroit. Barnes is capable of being a three-down linebacker who stays on the field on expected pass plays as an edge-rusher. In IDP, you want consistency and high snap counts. With Barnes, you get both, especially if he works his way up the ranks on the depth chart which already has room for him to excel in Year 1.

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