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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Kevin Hickey

Colts’ 2023 NFL draft big board: Linebackers

The Indianapolis Colts will enter the 2023 NFL draft looking to address several positions, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they added to the linebacker room over the course of the weekend.

The departure of Bobby Okereke in free agency will hurt the room, but they did retain E.J. Speed quickly after. The return of Shaquille Leonard is expected, but it isn’t clear what his timetable looks like going into the offseason workouts.

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It would be best to avoid adding to the room on Day 2 if they can, and there are some promising Day 3 prospects to consider. But using a Day 2 pick on a linebacker would seem a bit luxurious unless the prospect is far and away the highest-rated player on their board.

As we break down the prospects by round, think of the “rounds” as tiers and when I believe the team should begin to consider drafting them.

We also created big boards at the following positions:

Quarterbacks Running Backs Wide Receivers Tight Ends Interior OL Offensive Tackles
Defensive Tackles Edge Rushers Linebackers Cornerbacks Safeties

Here’s a look at my big board for the linebackers as it relates to the Colts in the 2023 NFL draft:

Round 1

AP Photo/Zach Bolinger

While there may be some prospects worthy a first-round pick, the Colts should not consider the position in the first round even in the unlikely event they trade back from the No. 4 overall pick.

Round 2

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

1. Trenton Simpson, Clemson

A two-year starter, Simpson has the length, speed and range for today’s NFL. His athleticism is off the charts, and he has experience playing various linebacker positions.

2. Drew Sanders, Arkansas

With only one year of starting experience, Sanders spent most of his time playing the MIKE role. He has the size, length and range to play on all three downs but is still growing into his game. Sanders was a unanimous All-American in 2022.

3. Jack Campbell, Iowa

A fast riser thanks to a strong showing at the NFL combine, Campbell showed off some impressive athleticism. He spent two seasons working as the MIKE and was a team captain for two seasons at Iowa.

Round 3

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

4. Dorian Williams, Tulane

Though a bit lean, Williams has the length, range and athleticism the Colts will like. He spent most of his time working as the WILL while working consistently on special teams as well. He’s still developing but will be 21 years old on draft day.

5. Daiyan Henley, Washington State

Henley has been starting at linebacker for two seasons and made the switch from wide receiver in 2020 so he’s very new at the position. He has the size, range, length and athleticism to be a development, but he’s also going to be 24 years old before his rookie season ends.

6. DeMarvion Overshown, Texas

With three years of starting experience, Overshwon is a bit on the smaller side for linebackers, but he moves well and has a quick first step. He has good length and a high motor but is still developing his counters to getting off blocks. He’d be a nice depth piece to have while he develops.

Round 4

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

7. Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama

A four-year starter splitting between Tennessee and Alabama, To’oTo’o is always around the ball and there are few lapses in assignment, but he’s not overly athletic or rangy. He’s a smart player and good leader so he could certainly grow into a role.

8. Nick Herbig, Wisconsin

A three-year starter, Herbig was more of a pass rusher than off-ball linebacker at Wisconsin. He doesn’t really fit the Colts’ defense considering his lean build and lack of length, but he’s explosive, a good leader and brings a high motor.

9. Yasir Abdullah, Louisville

Perhaps Abdullah should have been with the edge rushers, but he measured in at just 6-foot-1 at his pro day. He’s proetty explosive with impressive speed and change of direction, but he worked mostly as a pass rusher in college. A bit of an older prospect, Abdullah is still developing in coverage.

Round 5

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

10. Owen Pappoe, Auburn

A four-year starter and two-time captain, Pappoe is a traits-based prospect who is undersized for the position, but he’s pretty fast and explosive. He could be a special teamer while providing some depth at the back end of the roster.

11. Anfernee Orji, Vanderbilt

A three-year starter and team captain in 2022, Orji has enough size and great length to go along with elite athleticism at the position. He has the type of profile to work on special teams while developing the rest of his game as a depth piece.

12. SirVocea Dennis, Pittsburgh

A three-year starter for the Panthers, Dennis is a bit undersized. However, he makes up for it with impressive length, short-area quickness and explosiveness. He’s a sure-tackler who can carve out a role on special teams and was known for his leadership.

13. Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati

A two-year starter between Miami (OH) and Cincinnati, Pace Jr. doesn’t really fit what the Colts look for in linebackers. He has good speed and explosiveness with a high motor, but he lacks the desired height length and coverage abilities Indy covets.

Round 6

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

14. Cam Jones, Indiana

A three-year starter, Jones is a bit light and doesn’t have the length or speed the Colts like to see. However, he was a two-time team captain, and he’s always hunting to hit. He could be a great special teamer and depth piece to the linebacker room.

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