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2016 Draft Prospect Highlights: Linebackers

We're bringing you college highlights of the top linebacker prospects entering the 2016 NFL Draft based on Mike Mayock's top five position-by-position post-combine rankings.

JAYLON SMITH, NOTRE DAME
Height: 6-2, Weight: 223

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

Heading into the Fiesta Bowl, Smith was considered one of the best defenders in the country and a sure-fire elite prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft. He tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee during the team’s loss to Ohio State, however, placing some doubt on whether he would apply for early entry. The 2015 consensus All-American decided he had done enough in his college career, however, deciding to put his name in the hat despite the intense rehabilitation ahead of him. Smith became the second player to win both the high school and college Butkus Awards as the nation’s top linebacker, joining former Notre Dame star Manti Te'o, by leading the Irish with 113 tackles, nine of which went for losses. It was the second straight season Smith topped the defensive stats chart in tackles (112) and made nine TFLs. In his first year on campus, Smith started all 13 games, making 67 stops, 6.5 for loss. It is expected that Smith will bounce back from his knee surgery to become the athletic, explosive defender that wowed scouts over the past three years.

MYLES JACK, UCLA
Height: 6-1, Weight: 245

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

One of the most versatile players in college football the past three seasons, Jack earned a reputation as a dynamic defender and a contributor on offense. In fact, he earned both the Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2013, as well as being named finalist for Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player. A second-team All-Pac 12 defender as a freshman (75 tackles, two interception, 11 passes defended), he had seven rushing touchdowns on the year as well. Pac-12 coaches voted him second team all-conference again in 2014, as he made 88 tackles, eight for loss, intercepted one pass and broke up seven others. He also contributed as a runner, as well, carrying the rock 28 times for 113 yards and three scores. Jack’s junior year was stopped short by a knee injury three games in, though he looked like he was on the way to a fantastic season before the malady occurred (15 tackles, interception). Despite the injury, Jack announced he had "done enough" at UCLA and wanted to be compensated for his play -- so he declared for early entry in the 2016 NFL Draft. Considering that his mother insured Jack against injury after his freshman season, it's not surprising that economics won the day in Jack's decision.

DARRON LEE, OHIO STATE
Height: 6-1, Weight: 232

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

Lee's never been short on confidence, proclaiming to teammates that he was the one to take over for 2014 first-round pick Ryan Shazier in the Buckeyes' defense -- even though he was only a year removed from starring as a quarterback and cornerback in high school. He wound up starting all 15 games in that redshirt freshman year for the national champion Buckeyes, earning multiple Freshman All-American accolades with 81 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Lee truly hit the national stage by terrorizing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, receiving Defensive MVP honors with seven tackles, three for loss, and two sacks. His play as a sophomore was just as good, tracking down ball carriers 66 times, 11 for a loss and 4.5 sacks on his way to second-team All-Big Ten accolades from league coaches (third team media).

REGGIE RAGLAND, ALABAMA
Height: 6-1, Weight: 247

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

The question heading into Ragland’s senior season wasn’t whether he would be a solid run-stuffer as a starting 3-4 inside linebacker in the NFL, as his play the past two falls secured that notion. He earned his spot as an elite prospect, though, with his play in 2015. He led the Tide with 97 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and broke up six passes, winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year, numerous All-American honors and landing finalist spots for multiple national awards. In fact, Ragland was the third Alabama player to earn unanimous All-American notice, joining Cornelius Bennett and Derrick Thomas. Ragland could have left for the NFL last year, but decided to come back to win a championship, get his degree, and continue his work in the community.

DEION JONES, LSU
Height: 6-1, Weight: 222

OVERVIEW FROM NFL.COM

Jones' father, Cal, named his son after his favorite football player, Deion Sanders. His nickname has been "Debo", as in Deion and Bo, like Jackson, put together. The New Orleans native is living up to the expectations, winning the Metro Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in high school and eventually starring for his home state LSU Tigers. Jones had to be patient, though, as his first three years in Baton Rouge resulted in exactly one start (due to an injury to Kwon Alexander). He played primarily on special teams in 2012 (23 tackles, three for loss) and 2013 (15 tackles) before seeing more time on defense as a junior (27 tackles, 3.5 for loss). Then came Jones’ chance to start with Alexander moving on to the NFL. He became permanent team captain and defensive MVP after leading the team with 100 tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss. He also had five sacks, two interceptions, and three pass breakups, showing scouts an all-around skill set giving him a shot to play at the next level.

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