This year's linebacker class made its media rounds at the NFL Scouting Combine Saturday.
The group includes a wide variety of talents, including Temple's Haason Reddick, who started his collegiate career as a walk-on after dealing with injuries his junior and senior year of high school.
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has Reddick ranked as the second-best linebacker in the draft class, and there has been some buzz about Reddick possibly going off the board in the first round. While he's heard the talk, Reddick said he tries to block out all the outside attention.
"I try not to pay attention to it, just because you never know what can happen," Reddick said. "People's stock rises and falls every day depending on what a team needs, or what a team thinks about somebody. It's great to see those things, it's great to see some people think I'm worthy of being a first-round draft pick.
"Hopefully come draft time, that's what it is," Reddick added. "Until then, I'm going to continue to work hard and approach every day with a dominant approach."
Of linebackers receiving a lot of attention leading up to the draft, two suited up for the Florida Gators.
Jarrad Davis said the strong Florida presence was a testament to the depth and success of the program, in particular the defense.
"Everywhere you look, it's a Gator," Davis said. "We worked hard and prepared all season long, and guys were able to separate themselves not only on the team but across the nation."
"We all had a dream of coming into Florida, and hopefully being able to use that as a platform to extend our football playing time, whether it be in the NFL or CFL or whatever," Davis continued. "But we're all blessed to be here right now at the combine and taking job interviews for the next step of our life. It's really a powerful thing."
Here are a few additional statements from some of the top linebacker prospects ranked by Mayock and his counterpart, NFL Media's Bucky Brooks:
Haason Reddick, Temple
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock LB2
On his ability to play multiple positions:"The versatility shows how athletic I am. It shows I can do multiple things. It's more of the mindset and approach I'm taking to it that's going to help me the most. It's not necessarily because I'm versatile that's going to make me a good inside linebacker; with the change, the way I'm going to attack the transition to being an inside linebacker, the things I'm going to do to make sure I am the best inside linebacker, at least the best rookie inside linebacker to come in next year, that's what's going to help me with the change.
On his journey to this point:"The journey has been nothing but hard work for me. A lot of people think because I'm here now, the work is over. The work for me is not over. I'm going to continue to work hard. I'm going to continue to make sure I have a prosperous career in the NFL. But, as far as the overall journey, I'm living in the dream, and I don't have to wake up. So, I'm extremely grateful and appreciative of this opportunity and I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in."
Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock LB3, Brooks OLB3
On NFL linebacker traits:"Something that's definitely required is making plays – that's one of the biggest things that a linebacker needs to do, is make plays. If you're able to do that, that's the sum-up of the job, really."
On his pass-coverage skills:"I feel like I'm probably one of the better linebackers as far as pass coverage goes. I've played Will mostly, and in our defense it was the linebacker who did most of the pass coverage, so I feel very strong about that."
Jarrad Davis, Florida
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock LB4, Brooks ILB3
On where he'll play in the NFL:"I feel like, honestly, I can play anywhere. I will play for any team. It doesn't really matter where I go. But probably, my rookie year I see myself as a Will, playing on the weak side and really just learning everything. I feel confident enough that I could play Mike or Will in almost any defense. There's a couple of schemes that fit me better, but you go and you just learn. You've gotta make sure you learn everything."
On someone who influenced him:"The biggest guy was a guy that played at Florida; his name was Brian Crum. He had a short time in the NFL, but he played at Florida and played at my high school. I was actually in his mom's second-grade class. To see him come back and talk to me all the time and hang out a little bit when he was in town and impart words to me on what it takes to get to that level, it stuck with me for a long time."
Ryan Anderson, Alabama
Pre-combine draft rankings: Brooks OLB4
On what he loves about football:"Everything. The brotherhood, being a part of something, and working together towards a common goal. A bunch of guys step into one background, no matter what their background might be, no matter what their race may be, and when they get in that locker room and on that field, we're brothers. We're all fighting for the same reason. It's always been my escape – from all the politics and all the other things that people get into, football has always been my escape."