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  • Post-Draft IDP Rookie Linebacker Rankings for 2022

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    With the NFL draft behind us, how does the new group of rookie linebackers stack up for your IDP leagues? Let's take a look at my post-draft IDP rookie linebacker rankings and find out.

    The NFL draft is now a distant memory — what effect does that have on rookie linebacker rankings? This new group of rookie linebackers is a talented bunch but will require patience. After all, this is dynasty fantasy football, sometimes your assets require patience and tempered expectations early on. This rookie linebacker group certainly fits that bill.

    In this article, I list my top 20 rookie linebacker rankings for your IDP dynasty leagues. I laid out some of my thoughts on their situations, rambling on longer for some more than others. I also gave a target round for your rookie drafts, these are just suggestions as all drafts are different. Do your best to find the value in your league and if you have any questions feel free to hit me up anytime.

    Alright, let’s dig into my Rookie Linebacker Rankings.

    1. Devin Lloyd, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Round 1, Pick 27

    Lloyd was my pre-draft LB1 and easily holds down that spot post-draft. Jacksonville jumped back into the first round to grab Lloyd, trading with Tampa Bay to move up from 33 to 27 to lock in their guy. The Jaguars focused on defense in round one, adding two potential big pieces in Lloyd and first overall pick Travon Walker.

    Lloyd should slot right in next to newly acquired Foye Oluokun as the full-time linebackers for new Defensive Coordinator Mike Caldwell. As far as the rookie linebackers go, Lloyd is the only one I’m confident in playing a full-time role right out of the gate.

    Lloyd should fit Caldwell’s system well and he can get creative with the rookie as Lloyd is not only a stout run defender but a capable blitzer from inside and off the edge. With his ability to impact the game at every level, Lloyd has the makings of a “set it and forget it” long-term dynasty IDP asset.

    Target Round: Late First/Early Second 

    2. Quay Walker, LB, Green Bay Packers

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    Round 1, Pick 22

    The Packers always seem to make the first night of the draft interesting and this year was no different. Green Bay surprised many eager fans, analysts, and fantasy managers by selecting linebacker Quay Walker with the 22nd pick. Walker had been gaining some serious momentum leading up to the draft, but I certainly was surprised by the pick and the fact he was the first linebacker off the board. 

    So how does Walker fit in Green Bay? Under first-year Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry, Green Bay's defense was once again among the highest in the league in utilizing single-linebacker looks on defense.

    However, after the draft, there has been plenty of rumblings about Barry wanting to sub less and stay in base and nickel formations more often. They feel Walker's skill set and potential ability to hold up on all three downs provide them with this flexibility. 

    Last year, De'Vondre Campbell was nothing short of fantastic holding down the lead linebacker role and Green Bay brought him back on a five-year, $50 million contract. Krys Barnes was the other starting linebacker in Green Bay, but only held a 52% snap share on the season.

    Campbell will be back to his lead role, but Walker has a chance to grow the relevance of that second linebacker spot as he's a far better player with more to offer skill set wise than Barnes. 

    Rookie Outlook

    With Green Bay saying the right things and looking at their current personnel, I think Walker achieving a 70-75% snap share as a rookie is in the realm of possibilities. However, It is important to remember he is just a rookie and will have to prove he is ready for such a role. Campbell just signed the big deal but is soon to be 29 years old. The likelihood of him lasting the entirety of his contract seems unlikely.

    It may take a few years, but Walker should be groomed and ready to be the man in Green Bay when Campbell starts slowing down. Walker's path to snaps as a rookie, draft capital, and enticing long-term outlook make him a strong bet to be a high-quality IDP dynasty asset.

    Target Round: Mid/Late Second

    3.) Nakobe Dean, LB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Round 3, Pick 19 (83rd Overall)

    The Philadelphia Eagles got an absolute gift, landing Nakobe Dean in the third round. I firmly believe Dean is a first-round talent, but the injury reports swirling around about his injured pectoral/shoulder and his opting to not have surgery caused him to fall to day two of the draft.

    Philadelphia entered the draft needing a boost at linebacker and got incredible value with Dean falling into their lap in round three. He has all the tools (range, coverage upside, tenacious blitzer) to be an impact IDP linebacker, but the one knock on him is his smaller size and lack of length. With his smaller frame and possible injury concerns, there is a chance Philadelphia eases him in early on.

    Keeping tabs on his health will be important. The Eagles also have a viable veteran duo in newly acquired Kyzir White (one-year deal) and T.J. Edwards to trot out while Dean gets up to speed.

    Right now, I'm tempering expectations early on for Dean as far as playing time is concerned. However, once he proves to be healthy and comfortable with the scheme, he will be hard to keep off the field. For dynasty purposes, I think it's only a matter of time before Dean is the lead man in Philadelphia. 

    Target Round: Mid/Late Second

    4. Troy Andersen, LB, Atlanta Falcons

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    Round 2, Pick 26 (59th Overall)

    Troy Andersen was the most intriguing linebacker to me pre-draft and I was eager to see how the NFL viewed him as a talent. It turns out the Atlanta Falcons were high on the Montana State product as well, selecting him in the second round and third linebacker off the board. From a landing spot and capital standpoint, I love this match for Andersen long-term.

    Atlanta had two 1,000+ snap linebackers last year and there’s a chance both could be on new teams to start the 2022 season. Foye Oluokun has already moved on to Jacksonville via free agency and recent reports are making Deion Jones’ roster spot seem extremely questionable. Jones’ play took a big step back in 2021 and he carries a $20 million cap hit in 2022.

    News also just surfaced that Jones underwent shoulder surgery and will miss the entire off-season program. Atlanta may decide to make Jones a post-June cut or possibly try to facilitate a trade. Nothing is for certain, but the injury news and other factors are certainly compelling.

    If Jones is indeed off the roster, that would leave Rashaan Evans, Mykal Walker, and Nick Kwiatkoski for Andersen to contend with for the vacant spots. Evans has familiarity with Defensive coordinator Dean Peas and is a logical choice to earn a spot to begin the year.

    Walker would be my next bet to contend for a spot as he’s a young player who’s shown some promise and is a carryover from last year. Kwiatkoski is really just a journeyman depth piece at this point.

    If Jones somehow stays put in Atlanta and he’s healthy, let’s just assume he holds his starting spot at this point—it’s early. Andersen would then be competing with the rest of the group for the other open spot. I’m cautious with rookies and will side with the vets early on in either situation to begin the season. However, if Andersen is a quick study he could certainly insert himself into the rotation when he’s ready.

    Rookie Outlook

    Andersen is fairly new to the linebacker position (converted QB/RB) and the jump from Montana State to the NFL will certainly present its challenges. Although, if his eyes and instincts can catch up with his outstanding size/speed combination, the upside is enticing for the rookie.

    I’ll preach patience with Andersen as Atlanta may choose to roll with the vets first for whatever vacant roles are available. However, Andersen looks to be the future linebacker in Atlanta and there is a chance he pushes for a role at some point as a rookie.

    Target Round: Early /Mid Third

    5. Christian Harris, LB, Houston Texans

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    Round 3, Pick 11 (75th Overall)

    Houston needed to add some juice to their linebacker room and that's exactly what Christian Harris brings. The Texans did bring back often injured Christian Kirksey and last year's waiver wire wonder Kamu Grugier-Hill, so I expect Lovie Smith to count on the vets to begin the year. After those two, it's quite the mix of mediocrity in Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Neville Hewitt, Kevin Pierre-Louis, and Blake Cashman

    Harris is a linebacker who does need some refinement, particularly in coverage and playing more under control. However, what he brings is a little excitement to the group with his legit speed and range. As I laid out above, Harris' path to snaps isn't all that challenging with Houston’s mediocre logjam at linebacker.

    There is a chance Harris makes some noise as a rookie and I think his long-term outlook in Houston is promising with the new regime investing a day two pick on him.

    Target Round: Mid/Late Third

    6. Channing Tindall, LB, Miami Dolphins

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    Round 3, Pick 38 (102nd Overall)

    Miami needed some reinforcements at linebacker and got themselves just that in Channing Tindall. Tindall comes in a bit inexperienced, but his ability to track down ball carriers and create disruption as a blitzer should translate well right away. I can see Tindall pushing Elandon Roberts for that LB2 spot in Miami next to Jerome Baker.

    The LB2 spot in Miami wasn't necessarily a full-time role in Josh Boyer's defense last year. However, what it provides is a chance for Tindall to get on the field and gain experience. It may take a bit, but I could see Tindall making a serious run at Baker for that lead role in Miami down the road. 

    Target Round: Mid/Late Third

    7. Chad Muma, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Round 3, Pick 6 (70th Overall)

    Right now, Muma looks like the odd man out in Jacksonville with Foye Oluokun and Devin Lloyd holding down the two full-time roles. Foye got the bag in free agency but does have an out after the 2023 season.

    I have visions of Jacksonville liking what they see in the Muma/Lloyd pairing and opting to move on from Oluokun when they get the chance. This is only speculation of course, but while Oluokun is good for IDP, he is a fairly limited player overall.

    It sounds like Jacksonville may try to find ways to get Muma on the field with reports saying he could be used in a “money backer” role which you can read here from USA Today's JagsWire. Certainly interesting, but I’m just not sure he sees enough snaps for a significant role as a rookie barring injury. However, this presents an opportunity to get a really good player at a discount in drafts.

    Muma is a high upside taxi squad stash and all the Wyoming tackling machine needs is the opportunity— his talent will do the rest.

    Target Round: Early/Mid Fourth

    8. Brian Asamoah, LB, Minnesota Vikings

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    Round 3, Pick 2 (66th Overall)

    Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks look to be the starters in Minnesota, but the depth chart after them is unsettled. Asamoah has a legit shot to be the next man up in the rotation after Kendricks and Hicks. Hicks also has an out after this season in his two-year deal. Asamoah could find relevance this year if an injury were to strike and could find a role as early as 2023 if things fall into place.

    Target Round: Fifth

    9. Leo Chenal, LB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Round 3, Pick 39 (103rd Overall)

    There isn’t a more frustrating place for IDPs to land than Kansas City. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo hates IDP and rotates his linebackers in ways that make us fantasy managers want to pull our hair out. Did I mention I'm not a fan of this landing spot?

    I like Chenal as a player and his ability to be an enforcer in the box. The problem is, Kansas City has a guy like that in Nick Bolton who only played 60% of the snaps himself as a rookie last year. Chenal struggles in coverage, an area where Willie Gay will have the upper hand.

    All this leads me to believe Chenal will struggle to find meaningful snaps as a rookie. I still like Chenal as a stash, managers will just need a lot of patience.

    Target Round: Fifth

    10. Brandon Smith, LB, Carolina Panthers

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    Round 4, Pick 15 (120th Overall)

    Brandon Smith landing in Carolina is a sneaky good landing spot. Shaq Thompson is the main man for the Panthers, but vying for the spot next to him are the likes of Cory Littleton and Damien Wilson. Not exactly the biggest of roadblocks competition-wise.

    Smith is a big, athletic linebacker who offers some upside in coverage. If he can continue to develop his instincts and get more comfortable playing stacked up in the box, Smith can push the lackluster depth chart for snaps. Smith is one of my favorite late-round stash targets with his pairing of talent and potential opportunity if he develops.

    Target Round: Fifth

    11. Terrel Bernard, LB, Buffalo Bills

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    Round 3, Pick 25 (89th Overall)

    Bernard was a bit of a surprise day two selection out of this linebacker group. He’s a smaller linebacker (6’1’’ 224lbs) and reminds me a bit of new teammate Matt Milano. Milano does get dinged up at times and with the current depth chart in Buffalo, Bernard looks like the favorite as the top reserve.

    It’s also important to note Tremaine Edmunds is in the final year of his contract. Bernard is a sneaky stash with the thin depth chart and Edmunds' decision looming.

    Target Round: Fifth/Sixth

    12. Micah McFadden, LB, New York Giants

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    Round 5, Pick 3 (146th Overall)

    The Giants will get Blake Martinez back from injury and he will anchor the defense. Next to Martinez, there is an opportunity for someone to step up. Tae Crowder’s struggles are well documented and McFadden could easily push him for snaps if he has a strong camp. McFadden may not be the flashiest player, but he's a solid run defender and a proficient blitzer. 

    Target Round: Fifth/Sixth

    13. Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Detroit Lions

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    Round 6 Pick 9 (188th Overall)

    The Lions were a team who needed help at linebacker but didn’t add to the unit until they selected Malcolm Rodriguez in the sixth round. Rodriguez is a stout, compact linebacker with speed and a good feel for navigating the mess. With the Lions' current uninspiring depth chart there’s a chance for Rodriguez to make a splash. Rodriguez is one of my favorite late-round darts in deep leagues.

    Target Round: Fifth/Sixth

    14. Damone Clark, LB, Dallas Cowboys

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    Round 5, Pick 33 (176th Overall)

    Clark had a breakout senior season at LSU (135 tackles and 5.5 sacks) and was garnering some buzz leading up to the draft. Unfortunately, it was announced Clark needed spinal fusion surgery in March and it caused him to fall to the fifth round. Clark is worth a taxi squad spot for next year with some of the question marks at linebacker in Dallas after star Micah Parsons.

    Target Round: Fifth/Sixth

    15. Darrian Beavers, LB, New York Giants

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    Round 6, Pick 3 (182nd Overall)

    As I said with Micah McFadden, the competition for snaps next to Blake Martinez in New York is uninspiring. Beavers was a key piece to a strong Cincinnati defense in college and brings plenty of experience. He’s a bigger linebacker (6’4’’ 237lbs) who hits with power and moves well for his size. Beavers is another late-round dart with a chance to make a name for himself in camp.

    Target Round: Sixth/Seventh

    16. D’Marco Jackson, LB, New Orleans Saints

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    Round 5, Pick 18 (161st Overall)

    Target Round: Sixth/Seventh

    17. Chance Campbell, LB, Tennessee Titans

    Round 6, Pick 41 (219th Overall)

    Target Round: Seventh+

    18. Kyron Johnson, LB, Philadelphia Eagles

    Round 6, Pick 2 (181st Overall)

    19. Jack Sanborn, LB, Chicago Bears


    20. JoJo Domann, LB, Indianapolis Colts


    Thanks for taking the time to read my Rookie Linebacker Rankings, I hope you enjoyed and found it helpful. You can find my work here on my IDP Guys Author page and follow me on Twitter @KBellf54. I’m always available for any questions or feedback you may have and my DMs are always open.

    Kyle Bellefeuil

    Long time football and Packer fan. I've been playing redraft since 2001 and Dynasty/IDP since 2010. You can find my writing here at IDP Guys and remember, defense wins championships!!

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