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Draft Snapshot: 10 Takes on LBs in 2017 NFL Draft

The clock is ticking on the 2017 NFL Draft. 

One of the league's most important events kicks off with the first round at 7 p.m. (CT) on April 27 in Philadelphia. The second and third rounds begin at 6 p.m. (CT) on April 28. Rounds 4-7 start at 11 a.m. (CT) on April 29. 

The Vikings currently have eight selections in the draft, beginning with the 48th overall pick, which is the No. 16 spot in the second round.

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

Linebackers are our next look.

Where the Vikings Stand 

The Vikings have a pair of standout linebackers in Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Barr has made two straight Pro Bowls, while Kendricks has led Minnesota in tackles each of the past two seasons. Emmanuel Lamur, Anthony Harris and Kentrell Brothers could vie for the third starting job created by the retirement of Chad Greenway. All were solid on special teams in 2016.

Recent Draft History (over past five years) 

Total number of linebackers taken: 166

Round 1: 19

Round 2: 23

Round 3: 17

Round 4: 27

Round 5: 28

Round 6: 24

Round 7: 28

It's a safe bet that plenty of linebackers will be picked everywhere throughout the draft. The Vikings grabbed Barr in the first round and Kendricks in the second round, but Brothers (fifth round) and Robinson (seventh round) were later picks. 

The Prospects (based on rankings by CBS Sports)

-Note: These players are divided into the top five inside and outside linebackers

1. Reuben Foster (inside linebacker)

Alabama, Senior, 6-foot, 229 pounds

Combine numbers

None; did not participate

2016 stats: started all 15 games; totaled 115 tackles (60 solo) with 13 tackles for loss and added 5.0 sacks; Butkus Award winner as nation's best linebacker; unanimous First Team All-American; finalist for Nagurski Award; earned unanimous First-Team All-SEC honors; helped Alabama reach College Football Playoff national title game as the Crimson Tide defense led the nation in rush defense (63.9 yards per game) and scoring defense (13.0 points per game)

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, "with broad shoulders, a trim middle and well-built limbs, Foster offers prototypical size for an inside linebacker role. His greatest attribute, however, is his pure explosiveness. Whether it be his outstanding sideline-to-sideline speed or the impact he generates with his collisions, Foster is a heat-seeking missile hell-bent on destruction."

Rang also noted "Foster appears too athletic and aggressive for his own good. His sharp pursuit angles leave little room for error and, at times, he can get a little too far over his skis, flailing his arms to keep his balance while throttling down to change direction."

2. Jarrad Davis 

Florida, Senior, 6-foot-1, 238 pounds

Combine numbers

Davis did not participate in drills at the combine because of his recovery from the high-ankle sprain. The numbers below are results from Florida's Pro Day on March 28, reported by Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times.

40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds

Broad jump: 10 feet, 9 inches

Vertical jump: 38.5 inches

2016 stats: started all nine games he played; totaled 60 tackles (29 solo), 6.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and four pass breakups; Davis' tackle total ranked second on the Gators, despite being carted off against Missouri — he returned to action two weeks later against Georgia and recorded seven tackles and two quarterback hurries; named Second-Team All-SEC by coaches and to SEC Football Community Service Team; one of five finalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and Butkus Award

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, "Davis possesses a compact, powerful frame well-suited to linebacker. He shows terrific football intelligence, quickly locating the ball and anticipating where it is going. Davis anticipates the snap well as a blitzer, timing his rush to split gaps in the line of scrimmage to rack up tackles for loss." 

Rang also noted "the biggest issue is Davis lacks ideal size and durability questions must be addressed with a full, healthy 2016 campaign. There are also questions about his best fit from a schematic perspective. Florida's stout defensive line allowed him to essentially roam the field and pursue the ball without fighting off blocks."

3. Raekwon McMillan

Ohio State, Junior, 6-foot-2, 240 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.61 seconds

Bench press: 23 reps of 225 pouns

Broad jump: 19 feet, 1 inch

Vertical jump: 33 inches

3-cone drill: 7.15 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.39 seconds

60-yard shuttle: 11.84 seconds

2016 stats: started all 13 games; recorded 102 total tackles with seven tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks with two forced fumbles; First-Team All-Big Ten selection; Second-Team All-American by the Associated Press, Walter Camp, USA Today, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports; Lott and Butkus Award semifinalist

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, McMillan "possesses prototypical size for inside linebacker, including a stout core and thick lower half, which help him anchor against blockers. Unlike many of the undersized MIKE backers in today's college football who are reliant on avoiding would-be blockers."

Brugler also noted that "McMillan was adept at "cleaning up" a year ago, but scouts are eager to see how he responds now that opposing blocking schemes will be focusing on him. McMillan lacks ideal flexibility, struggling to change directions quickly in tight quarters and occasionally allowing ball carriers to slip by him." 

4. Anthony Walker, Jr. 

Northwestern, Redshirt junior, 6-foot-1, 238 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds

Bench press: 23 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump:  9 feet, 8 inches

Vertical jump: 30.5 inches

3-cone drill: 7.23 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.34 seconds

2016 stats: finished second on the team with 105 tackles and 10.0 tackles for loss; Second-Team All-Big Ten by conference's coaches and Third-Team selection as voted by the media; Had at least seven tackles in each of the final nine games of the season

Hot take: According to CBS Sports, "with broad shoulders, a tapered middle and thick limbs, Walker certainly looks the part of an NFL middle linebacker. He attacks gaps as a run defender, showing a quick burst to the ball, an effective shoulder dip and swim move to slip by would-be blockers and greets ball-carriers with explosive stopping power." 

CBS Sports also noted that "for all of the flashes Walker shows in run support and in pass coverage, the redshirt junior remains quite raw, overall. Walker is highly aggressive, slicing through gaps on runs to the outside to collect tackles for loss but occasionally running himself right out of the play."

5. Kendell Beckwith

LSU, Senior, 6-foot-2, 243 pounds

Combine numbers

Bench press: 20 reps of 225 pounds

2016 stats: played in 10 games with 10 starts; recorded 91 total tackles with 6.0 tackles for loss and a sack with a fumble recovery; Second-Team All-American selection by numerous platforms; Third-Team All-American honoree by the Associated Press; First-Team All-SEC selection by coaches and Second-Team All-SEC honoree by the Associated Press

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, "an every-down linebacker for the Tigers, Beckwith is extremely patient with a natural feel to sift through the trash, find the ball and make the stop. He is a fundamentally sound tackler with strong hands to hook, stay low and drop the ball carrier, using leverage to wrap and finish."

Brugler also noted that "while his patience works to his advantage, it can also be a curse as he tends to wait for the ball carrier, causing him to be late mirroring and losing the angle. Beckwith has adequate closing speed once he locates his target, but he isn't a rangy athlete and his play speed is average at best, limiting his effectiveness near the sideline."

1. Haason Reddick (outside linebacker)

Temple, Senior, 6-foot-1, 237 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash:* *4.52 seconds

Bench press: 24 reps of 225 pounds

Vertical jump: 36.5 inches

Braod jump: 11 feet, 1 inch

3-cone drill: 7.01 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds

2016 stats: Started all 13 games; recorded 65 total tackles with 22.5 tackles for loss with 2.0 sacks; added two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles; played in Reese's Senior Bowl; Fourth-Team All-American selection by Phil Steele; First-Team All-American Athletic Conference; Burlsworth Trophy semifinalist (Most Outstanding former walk-on)  

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Reddick is a "finely tuned athlete with coordinated movement skills. Masterfully controls his throttle in space to break down and finish ball carriers. Flexible to drop his pads and turn the corner around edge blockers. Initial burst to attack gaps and squeeze into the backfield. Best trait is his secondary quickness working off contact."

According to Brugler, Reddick has a "tweener frame and lacks the size potential to stay at defensive end in the NFL. Lacks ideal arm length to efficiently engage, stack and shed in the trenches. Doesn't have the anchor or upper body power to control the point of attack, allowing blockers to engulf and move him from lanes."

2. T.J. Watt

Wisconsin, Redshirt junior, 6-foot-4, 252 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.69 seconds

Bench press: 21 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump: 10 feet, 8 inches

Vertical jump: 37 inches

3-cone drill: 6.79 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.13 seconds

60-yard shuttle: 11.20 seconds

2016 stats: recorded 63 tackles (38 solo) in 14 games; 15.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, four pass breakups, one interception (17-yard return for a touchdown); First-Team All-Big Ten selection, Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist, All-American in only season as a starter

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Watt "uses his length and heavy hands to take on blocks, locking out to dictate the point of attack. Edge acceleration to threaten the corner. Natural balance and active feet to continue his momentum through contact. Attacks and disrupts the rhythm of blockers with his violence, rarely allowing himself to be locked up."

According to Brugler, Watt has "tweener size and bulk with limited growth potential. Shows reaction quickness, but not naturally explosive. Rigid change of direction skills and doesn't redirect with loose flexibility. Lacks efficient move-to-move transition skills and needs to mature his pass rush arsenal."

3. Takkarist McKinley

UCLA, Senior, 6-foot-2, 250 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.59 seconds (3rd among DEs)

Bench press: 24 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump: 10 feet, 2 inches

Vertical jump: 33 inches

3-cone drill: 7.48 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.62 seconds

2016 stats: started all 11 games played for the Bruins, totaling 61 tackles (49 solo), 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, six passes broken up and three forced fumbles. He was ranked 10th in FBS with 1.6 tackles for loss per game and 11th in sacks (0.91). McKinley's top performance came against Utah, when he recorded a season-best 5.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. He was a First-Team All-Pac 12 Conference selection by the coaches.

Hot take: According to CBS Sports, McKinley is a "twitched-up athlete with the burst off the ball to blow past offensive tackles as a speed rusher, as well as the disproportionately long arms to keep blockers from grabbing hold of him. Terrific balance and bend to dip under the reach of blockers and scrape the corner."

CBS Sports also noted McKinley is "stronger than he looks but lacks the bulk and power to hold up as a full-time defensive end in the NFL. Lacks the frame to add much weight, possessing a tapered frame, including narrow hips and relatively thin legs."

4.Zach Cunningham**

Vanderbilt, Redshirt junior, 6-foot-3, 234 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.67 seconds

Bench press: 15 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump: 10 feet, 5 inches

Vertical jump: 35 inches

3-cone drill: 7.03 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.29 seconds 

2016 stats: totaled 125 tackles (71 solo) with 16.5 tackles for loss; added a forced fumble and four fumble recoveries; finalist for Butkus Award and semifinalist for Bednarik Award; became first Commodores player to earn unanimous First Team All-America recognition; earned First-Team SEC honors

Hot take: According to Rob Rang of CBS Sports, "Cunningham sports a long-levered frame with broad shoulders, a tapered middle and plenty of room for additional muscle mass without significantly impacting his impressive quickness, agility and speed. He attacks oncoming blockers with an aggressive and powerful initial punch, quickly disengaging on his way to the ball."

Rang also noted that "while Cunningham's size, athleticism and awareness are certainly appealing, there is room for improvement, including in the most important area for any linebacker -- tackling. In part because of Cunningham's relatively lanky frame, his pad level is often higher while tackling then preferred. Cunningham often wrestles runners to the ground with his upper-body strength rather than consistently driving them back through his hips."

5. Tyus Bowser

Houston, Senior, 6-foot-3, 247 pounds

Combine numbers

40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds

Bench press: 21 reps of 225 pounds

Broad jump: 10 feet, 7 inches

Vertical jump: 37.5 inches

3-cone drill: 6.75 seconds

2016 stats: started all eight games he played in; recorded 47 total tackles with 12 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks; added a forced fumble and a safety; invited to Reese's Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game; Second-Team All-American Conference by coaches and Phil Steele

Hot take: According to Dane Brugler of CBS Sports, Bowser is an "explosive athlete with gifted movement skills. Torso flexibility and nimble redirection skills to play on his feet - also a member of the Houston basketball team during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. Lateral quickness, contact balance and body bend to work past blockers when rushing the pocket."

Brugler also noted Bowser has "sports tweener traits. Lack of core strength shows as a pass rusher, struggling to convert his speed to power. Needs to load more ammo into his hands to pepper and detach from blockers."

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