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Dolphins NFL draft options: Linebackers

The South Florida Sun Sentinel continues its eight-part series previewing top players in the 2023 NFL draft (April 27-29) with linebackers. The Dolphins added David Long Jr., which is a nice acquisition considering his experience and athleticism. The inside linebacker has a low-key role in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 system but they remain essential to stopping the run, and it’s always nice to get the guys who can stay on the field for three downs.

Drew Sanders, Arkansas

Sanders (6 foot 4, 235 pounds), a transfer from Alabama, can fight off blocks in the running game and cover ground in the passing game. Sanders had 105 tackles, 9.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception last season, showing off an all-around game that features play-making abilities.

Noah Sewell, Oregon

Sewell (6-1, 246), the younger brother of Detroit offensive tackle Penei Sewell, totaled 56 tackles and one interception last season. He’s a bit old-school from the standpoint he’s physical with good size and instincts, but he’s not fast or athletic.

Jack Campbell, Iowa

Campbell (6-5, 249) is an old-school hitter and tackler (128 tackles last season) who stands out against the run. He’s not at his best in coverage, but if you need a running-game enforcer, Campbell, who won the Campbell Award, aka the Academic Heisman, is your man.

Daiyan Henley, Washington State

Henley (6-1, 225) transferred from Nevada, where he played wide receiver. Henley (74 tackles) is fast and physical, and does a good job reading plays but doesn’t yet have true linebacker instincts.

Trenton Simpson, Clemson

Simpson (6-2, 235) combines the aggression you want with the athleticism to stay on the field for three downs. He’s better against the pass, but don’t overlook his blitz skills or his 4.43-second speed in the 40-yard dash.

Best of the rest

Wisconsin’s Nick Herbig, Tulane’s Dorian Williams, Texas’ DeMarvion Overshown, Cincinnati’s Ivan Pace Jr., Ohio State’s Tommy Eichenberg, Alabama’s Henry To’o To’o, and Utah’s Mohamoud Diabate compose the rest of the top linebackers.

Class grade: C+

The best value will be in the second and third rounds. There might be a first-round pick in this group but many of them will develop over two or three years. Keep an eye on Tommy Eichenberg, an All-America and younger brother of Dolphins guard Liam Eichenberg.

Teams in need

Carolina, which picks No. 1 but will almost certainly select a quarterback, gets the first shot at an inside linebacker but Detroit, Minnesota, Buffalo, Seattle, New York Jets and Pittsburgh are also considered to be teams in need.

Dolphins’ focus

The Dolphins acquired David Long Jr. this offseason to shore up the inside with a more athletic player to pair with Jerome Baker in the base formation. Top reserve Duke Riley re-signed to provide depth. The Dolphins might want to look for more depth to go along with Channing Tindall, last year’s third-round pick who didn’t see much time from scrimmage last season. Special teams play is essential for youngsters at this position.

<u>Previously addressed</u>

Dolphins NFL draft options: Wide receivers

Dolphins NFL draft options: Tight ends

Dolphins NFL draft options: Offensive line

Dolphins NFL draft options: Running backs

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Source: Berkshire mont

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