The next position in the “prospect for every round of the 2022 NFL draft” series for the Detroit Lions is a popular one: Linebacker. And it’s a fantastic draft class to need one, arguably the deepest crop of talent at any position in this entire draft.
With the team’s all-time leading tackler, former starting LB Chris Spielman, as part of the decision-making team in the front office, it’s easy to see the Lions looking intently at the linebacker class. An upgrade to the corps would certainly be a welcome addition.
There isn’t much room on the roster, however. The Lions brought back Alex Anzalone, Josh Woods and Shaun Dion Hamilton and also signed free agents Chris Board and Jarrad Davis. They join Barnes, who the team is counting on to make a big step forward in his second season. For a team that will primarily have just two LBs on the field, that’s a lot of investment for 2022 already. And the coaching staff sincerely likes them all, too.
Note: These are off-ball LBs, not players whose primary role will be rushing the passer. Think of them as inside LBs, though in the new-look 4-man front they will also be charged with making plays outside the tackle box and covering tight ends and RBs near the line of scrimmage.
As with the rest of the entries in this series, the purpose here isn’t to advocate for any one player. Instead, it’s designed to show the relative talent level that should be available in different rounds of the draft. The Lions do not currently have a fourth-round pick, so consider that entry here as the team’s pick at No. 97 at the end of the third round.