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Draft Snapshot: 10 Linebackers to Watch

The clock is ticking on the 2018 NFL Draft.

One of the league's most important events kicks off with the first round at 7 p.m. (CT) on Thursday in Dallas. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday and begin at 6 p.m. (CT). Round 4 will start at 11 a.m. (CT) on Saturday and be followed by Rounds 5-7.

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the draft, beginning with the 30th overall pick.

Vikings.com is taking a glance at the top prospects at each position leading up to the draft.

April 16: Quarterbacks

April 17: Running backs

April 18: Receivers

April 19: Tight ends

April 20: Tackles

April 21: Centers & Guards

April 22: Defensive tackles

April 23: Defensive ends

April 24: Linebackers

April 25: Cornerbacks

April 26: Safeties

Where the Vikings Stand

The Vikings are returning starting linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, as well as Ben Gedeon, who started in Minnesota's base defense as a rookie in 2017. Gedeon also contributed on special teams, along with fellow rookie Eric Wilson, who earned a spot on the Vikings 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent. Kentrell Brothers played primarily on special teams in his first three seasons.

The Vikings also have Antwione Williams and recent free-agent signee Reshard Cliett on their current roster. 

Recent Draft History (over past five years)

Total number of linebackers taken: 163

Round 1: 21

Round 2: 23

Round 3: 18

Round 4: 26

Round 5: 25

Round 6: 24

Round 7: 26

The 2013 draft only had 26 linebackers selected, which was the fewest in the past five drafts by a fairly large margin. The average number of linebackers taken from 2014-17 was 34, with the highest being 36 in 2015, during which 10 were selected in the first two rounds.

In 2014, 2015 and 2017, at least five linebackers were taken off the board in Round 1. The distribution of players in that position group taken in Rounds 1-7 over the past five years has been fairly even, although only 18 have been drafted in the third round, compared to an average of 24 in the other six rounds.

The Prospects (based onrankings by CBS Sports)

**

Inside linebackers **

*1. Roquan Smith *

Georgia, Junior, 6-foot-1, 236 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.51 seconds (second among linebackers)

2017 stats: Started all 15 games played; led team with 137 tackles (85 solo); 14 tackles for loss; 6.5 sacks; two passes broken up; one forced fumble; All-America First Team (Associated *Press; Walter Camp, AFCA, FWAA, *The Sporting News, Phil Steele); Butkus Award recipient (top college linebacker); named* SEC Defensive Player of the Year (Associated Press, coaches); All-SEC First Team (Associated Press*, coaches)

*2. Tremaine Edmunds *

Virginia Tech, Junior, 6-foot-5, 253 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.54 seconds (fifth among linebackers)
Bench press: 19 reps of 225 pounds
Broad jump: 9 feet, 9 inches

2017 stats: Started all 13 games played; 109 tackles (60 solo); 14 tackles for loss; 5.5 sacks; two passes broken up; three forced fumbles; First-Team All-ACC; Third-Team All-American (Associated Press); Butkus Award finalist; ACC Linebacker of the Week (11/27)

*3. Rashaan Evans *

Alabama, Senior, 6-foot-3, 234 pounds

Combine numbers

Vertical jump: 30 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 8 inches
3-cone drill: 6.95 seconds (eighth among linebackers)
20-yard shuttle: 4.36 seconds

2017 stats: 12 games played, missing two to injury; 74 tackles (35 solo); 13 tackles for loss; 6.0 sacks, three passes broken up; one forced fumble; one fumble recovery; Roll Tide team captain; First-Team All-American (AFCA); Second-Team All-SEC (coaches)

*4. Oren Burks *

Vanderbilt, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-3, 233 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.59 seconds (tied for seventh among linebackers)
Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds
Vertical jump: 39.5 inches (tied for second among linebackers)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 11 inches (tied for first among linebackers)
3-cone drill: 6.82 seconds (third among linebackers)
20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds (second among linebackers)

2017 stats: Started 11 of 12 games at ILB after playing hybrid LB/S position in 2016; 82 tackles (45 solo); one interception; 7.0 tackles for loss; 1.0 sack; three passes broken up; Butkus Award watch list

*5. Jason Cabinda *

Penn State, Senior, 6-foot-1, 239 pounds 

Combine numbers

Bench press: 19 reps of 225 pounds

2017 stats: Started all 13 games; 88 tackles (33 solo); 6.5 tackles for loss; 2.5 sacks; three passes broken up; Second-Team All-America (SB Nation) Second-Team All-Big Ten (coaches); Third Team All-Big Ten (Phil Steele); Lott IMPACT Trophy finalist (top defensive player in character and performance)

Outside linebackers

*1. Leighton Vander Esch *

Boise State, Redshirt junior, 6-foot-4, 256 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.65 seconds
Bench press: 20 reps of 225 pounds
Vertical jump: 39.5 inches (tied for second among linebackers)

Broad jump: 10 feet, 4 inches (tied for fourth among linebackers)

3-cone drill: 6.88 seconds (fifth among linebackers)

20-yard shuttle: 4.15 seconds (tied for second among linebackers)

60-yard shuttle: 11.57 seconds (second among linebackers)

2017 stats: Started all 14 games played; 141 tackles (91 solo); three interceptions; 8.5 tackles for loss; 4.0 sacks; four pass breakups; four forced fumbles; Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year; Defensive MVP of Mountain West Championship Game; First-Team All-Mountain West selection; Fourth-Team All-American (Phil Steele)

*2. Dorian O'Daniel *

Clemson, Senior, 6-foot-1, 215 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.61 seconds
Bench press: 21 reps of 225 pounds (tied for eighth among linebackers)
Vertical jump: 32 inches
Broad jump: 9 feet, 11 inches (tied for ninth among linebackers)
3-cone drill: 6.64 seconds (first among linebackers)

20-yard shuttle: 4.07 seconds (first among linebackers)

2017 stats: Started all 14 games played; 88 tackles (51 solo); two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns; 11.5 tackles for loss; 5.0 sacks; five passes broken up; First-Team All-American (Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated); Second-Team All-American (Associated Press, AFCA); First-Team All-ACC (Phil Steele); Second-Team All-ACC (Associated Press); Butkus Award finalist

3. Darius Leonard

South Carolina State, Redshirt senior, 6-foot-2, 213 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.7 seconds
Bench press: 17 reps of 225 pounds

2017 stats:Started 10 games; 113 tackles (73 solo); two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown; 11.5 tackles for loss; eight sacks; one pass broken up; one forced fumble; total tackles ranked second in the nation

*4. Harold Landry

Boston College, 6-foot-3, 252 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.64 seconds (fifth among edge players)
Bench press: 24 reps of 225 pounds (eighth among edge players)
Broad jump: 9 feet, 11 inches (tied for ninth among edge players)
Vertical jump: 36 inches (third among edge players)
3-cone drill: 6.88 seconds (tied for first among edge players)
20-yard shuttle: 4.19 seconds (tied for first among edge players)
60-yard shuttle: 11.35 seconds (first among edge players)

* Landry has been categorized as a defensive end/edge player as well as linebacker by some analysts

2017 stats: Started eight games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury; 38 tackles (23 solo); 8.5 tackles for loss; 5.0 sacks; two passes broken up; named to the All-ACC Third-Team; honorable mention All-America selection by SBNation

*5. Malik Jefferson *

Texas, Junior, 6-foot-3, 236 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.52 seconds (third among linebackers)
Bench press: 27 reps of 225 pounds (tied for second among linebackers)

Vertical jump: 36 inches (tied for seventh among linebackers)

Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches (fourth among linebackers)

2017 stats: Started all 13 games played; 110 tackles (79 solo); 10 tackles for loss; 4.0 sacks; Big-12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year; First-Team All-Big 12 (Associated Press, coaches); Second-Team All-American (Associated Press, Sporting News); Butkus Award semifinalist

Join fellow Vikings fans Thursday on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium for the *Miller Lite Vikings Draft Party. Follow the first round of the NFL Draft as we welcome the newest member of the Minnesota Vikings. Tickets available now – click here to learn more!*

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