Building the 2020 Prototype: Linebacker

Photo: USA TODAY Sports - Scott Olmos

Throughout the months of July and August, I’m taking a much closer look at some of the 2020 NFL draft’s top prospects. In doing this, I’m creating a series called “Building the Prototype.” Breaking down each position into the primary traits I specifically look for, I’m going to match 2020 prospects to those traits. Thus, I am essentially building the perfect draft prospect at each position in this upcoming class. In the ninth installment of this series, I took a look at some of the nation's best draft-eligible linebackers. I have links to the other position groups of this series at the bottom of the page:

Length/Athleticism - Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

At 6’4, 230, Isaiah Simmons reportedly runs in the 4.3s, jumps out of the gym with a 40-inch vertical and an 11-foot broad jump. To say Simmons is a freak would be an understatement. His length is a consistent factor in coverage at the catch point, as well as his overall finishing radius in the open field. Combine this with his science-defying athleticism, and you could have a three-down, space defender chess piece at linebacker. If he starts relying more on instincts instead of depending on his athleticism to get him into position, his potential will be significantly amplified.

Play Speed/Processing - Dylan Moses, Alabama

I truly believe Alabama’s Dylan Moses was born to be an NFL linebacker. His combination of range, short-area quickness, and explosiveness makes him a perfect fit for an off-ball role in today’s pace and space league. When you add in his unparalleled processing speed, mental trigger, and overall instincts, Moses has a chance to be an immediate-impact player. Play speed is all about blending raw athletic traits and mental processing on the field, and Dylan Moses does it better than any linebacker I’ve seen so far in this class.

Cover Skills - Troy Dye, Oregon

One thing no one can question about Oregon linebacker Troy Dye’s game: He can scoot. Specifically, he is a 4.5-speed linebacker with elite sideline to sideline range. On top of that, he is a natural in space and coverage. Whether in man coverage or zone coverage, he has a great feel for positioning and timing. Quite frankly, I was incredibly surprised that Dye decided to return for his senior season, considering how shallow the 2019 linebacker group turned out to be. With his unique length, athletic tools, and production the last three years the Ducks, Dye has an excellent overall resume as a modern move linebacker.

Block Destruction/Finishing Power - Shaq Quarterman, Miami

Shaq Quarterman is not the most nimble or agile linebacker in space, but he is an anchor against the run. When he comes downhill, he is an absolute wrecking ball. His stopping power is unmatched in this linebacker class, and his ability to stack and shed blocks at the point of attack will immediately translate at the next level. What is most impressive about Quarterman is his sense of control and pacing. He rarely puts himself in poor position, as he takes efficient, sharp angles to the action. Quarterman will surely draw plenty of comparisons to former Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman because of his explosiveness and play strength against the run.

2020 Prototype Series:


Running Back

Wide Receiver

Tight End

Offensive Tackle

Interior OL

EDGE Defender

Defensive Tackle