Nick Jacobs: Best linebacker fits for Chiefs in 2019 NFL Draft

Posted at 2:28 PM, Apr 19, 2019

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs' roster is serviceable at the linebacker position, so it isn't a major need entering the 2019 NFL Draft.

With free-agent acquisition Damien Wilson penciled in at strong-side linebacker. Reggie Ragland is expected to get first crack as the starting middle linebacker with Anthony Hitchens set to start at the weak-side linebacker spot.

The roster has depth in Jeremiah Attaochu, Ben Niemann, Dorian O'Daniel and Raymond Davison, but the Chiefs could use a jolt if the value is too good to pass up.

Below are the best fits for the Chiefs from a scheme perspective:

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1. Josh Allen, Kentucky
Height: 6-4 — Weight: 262 — Bench press: 28 — 40-yard dash: 4.63

Allen will likely be a top-five pick, so the Chiefs won't see him at No. 29, but he would fit in well at the strong-side linebacker position.

Allen performs at a consistent level. He isn't elite at any one aspect necessarily, but he is good to great across the board. He can change direction quickly and get up to top speed quickly.

A protege of new Chiefs linebackers coach Matt House with the Wildcats, Allen drops well into zone coverage with a good understanding of where to sit down. He reads and reacts well with a good feel for what the offense is attempting to do, sheds blocks well and holds to edge in run defense.

2. Devin White, LSU
Height: 6-0 — Weight: 237 — Bench press: 22 — 40-yard dash: 4.42

White lets his explosive speed get the best of him sometimes, so he still needs to learn to play under control. But he shows good short-area quickness along with a willingness to take on blocks and fight through to make the tackle.

The former Tigers star is a solid blitzer. He reads and reacts while relying on his speed to help him catch up to the ball carrier, but will need to develop better instincts at the next level.

3. Devin Bush, Michigan
Height: 5-11 — Weight: 234 — Bench press: 21 — 40-yard dash: 4.43

Bush has good size and speed. He would likely be a middle linebacker capable of running sideline-to-sideline with good closing speed and a penchant for big hits.

Bush has the speed to cover, but he needs to learn to get his head turned around quicker. He does a solid job getting off blocks and keeping his outside shoulder free.

4. Mack Wilson, Alabama
Height: 6-1 — Weight: 23740 — Bench press: n/a — 40-yard dash: n/a

Wilson is a weak-side coverage linebacker who works best in space. He struggles to disengage from blocks when attacking upfield, but has good speed and can close on blitzes with a clean path.

Occasionally, Wilson struggles to locate the ball carrier until he is out of position, but he is rated high because of the athletic gifts that can't be coached. He will need quality coaching at the next level to reach his ceiling.

5. Blake Cashman, Minnesota
Height: 6-1 — Weight: 234 — Bench press: 2218 — 40-yard dash: 4.50

Cashman has a blend of great size, speed and strength coupled with a high football IQ. He identifies what is happening very quickly and reacts even quicker.

Cashman could play the strong-side linebacker spot but probably would shine brightest at the middle linebacker position. He fights off blocks to get to the ball carrier and keeps good leverage on outside runs, but also shows fluidity in coverage.

6. Cole Holcomb, North Carolina
Height: 6-1 — Weight: 235 — Bench press: n/a — 40-yard dash: n/a

Holcomb has great instincts reading and deciphering plays. He fights through blocks, is a sure tackler, and has patience when flowing down the line of scrimmage and squaring up to make the tackle.

Coverage-wise, Holcomb is solid in zone coverage but a tick slow in man coverage.

7. Sione Takitaki, BYU
Height: 6-1 — Weight: 238 — Bench press: 24 — 40-yard dash: 4.63

Takitaki flows well down the line of scrimmage with good pursuit angles. He has solid speed overall and is able to reach the edge when needed.

Additionally, Takitaki is a solid blitzer and fluid dropping back into his coverages. He will fight through blocks and play with an attitude, making him ideally suited for the strong-side linebacker position (though he may be able to man the middle in a pinch, if needed).

8. Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
Height: 6-2 — Weight: 250 — Bench press: n/a — 40-yard dash: n/a

Tavai projects as a strong-side linebacker with upside as a rusher off the edge, if needed. He will fight through blocks and shows serviceable speed and strength.

In coveraage, Tavai has good drops into zone. He closes well and is a solid tackler and fluid athlete.

Other linebackers who fit the Chiefs: Christian Miller (Alabama), Malik Carney (North Carolina), Vosean Joseph (Florida), Ben Banogu (TCU), Bobby Okereke (Stanford), Otaro Alaka (Texas A&M), Terez Hall (Missouri), Drue Tranquill (Notre Dame), Emeke Egbule (Houston), Terrill Hanks (New Mexico State) and Joe Dineen Jr (Kansas)

The draft has some players who can develop into strong-side linebackers for the Chiefs long term along with a couple middle linebackers, but most of the weak-side linebacker prospects are developmental.

You can listen to the "4th and 1" podcast with Tod Palmer and Nick Jacobs on iTunes, Stitcher , Spotify , and TuneIn. You can also find Jacobs on twitter @Jacobs71.