With the NFL Combine behind us and the 2022 NFL Draft just a month away, the final stages of the scouting process are starting to take shape. I’ve been hard at work grinding the tape to bring you detailed breakdowns of some of the top prospects available to the Atlanta Falcons throughout the draft, and I’m excited to finally share them with you now that the athletic testing has been finalized.
First, if you’re unfamiliar with my scouting reports from previous years, you can read about my grading system here. Please keep in mind this system is still in development, and may be adjusted as more data points come in.
Next up is one of the more unique linebacker prospects in this year’s class: Utah’s Devin Lloyd. Lloyd offers an intriguing package of size, athleticism, and versatility at both off-ball LB and pass-rushing EDGE.
LB | Devin Lloyd | Utah | #0
Games watched: USC, Arizona State, Stanford, Oregon
One of the top linebacker prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, Utah’s Devin Lloyd is a unique and versatile player who may draw a few comparisons to Penn State’s Micah Parsons. With good size and terrific athletic traits, Lloyd immediately stands out on tape as one of the most dynamic players on the defense. His best trait, however, is his ability to play both off-ball LB and pass-rushing EDGE at a high level. This showed up on the stat sheet as well, as Lloyd was one of the most productive LBs in football with 22.0 TFL and 7.0 sacks in 2021.
Lloyd was the leader of Utah’s defense as the MIKE, making calls and taking on a leadership role. Then he’d drop down to play EDGE and rush the passer as well or better than the full-time EDGE players. Lloyd is a natural pass rusher with terrific explosiveness, bend, and instincts for getting to the QB. Obviously he won’t be playing EDGE full-time at the NFL level due to his size, but he’s more than capable of providing pass rush assistance on the outside and as a blitzer. He’s also a solid player in zone coverage and his athletic traits give him upside as a man coverage option against TEs.
Lloyd’s interchangeable skillset makes him a unique player who will need a creative DC to get the most out of him. While I don’t think his ceiling is as high as Parsons’, Lloyd can have a similar role and an immediate impact rookie season. As good as Lloyd is at disengaging from blocks as a pass rusher, he struggles to stack-and-shed against the run. Playing in a 3-4 behind a good defensive line would give him a ton of opportunities to fly in and make plays.
Good tackler. Wide tackle radius and hits with plenty of power. Sometimes has trouble finishing against especially slippery QBs or RBs.
Run Defending: 6
Excellent penetration and TFL player, but struggles to shed blocks and can get caught in the trash too easily. Overall a good run defender. Impact player if kept clean and allowed to flow to the ball.
Good coverage player. Trusted with MIKE responsibilities against RBs and TEs. Mostly played zone coverage. Plenty of lateral mobility and solid instincts. Athletic enough to be a future asset in man coverage.
Blitzing/Pass Rush: 8
The best pass rushing linebacker in the draft. Capable of playing EDGE and producing as a pass rusher. Advanced toolset for an off-ball LB playing on the line of scrimmage. Slippery, explosive, and uses his hands well. Strong blitzer against both run and pass.
Flexibility/Lateral Mobility: 7
Excellent lateral mobility. Capable of changing direction with ease and flowing sideline to sideline. Can turn the corner and bend like a true EDGE.
Football IQ: 6
Smart player who is rarely out of position. Trusted as the MIKE and leader of the defense. Moved around constantly and asked to do a lot. A few zone coverage lapses and missed reads on tape, but overall good.
Competitive Toughness: 6
Good competitive toughness. Plays hard and fast. Enthusiastic with a fiery on-field persona. Effort seems to be best at EDGE, where he is tenacious in getting to the QB. Could be a little more energetic as a pursuit player. Sometimes lets off the gas too early.
Good leader on defense. Trusted in multiple roles. Routinely makes calls and points out shifts and personnel changes to other defenders.
Elite versatility. Can legitimately play two positions interchangeably and at a high level: off-ball LB and EDGE. Good in coverage as well. Can be a chess piece for a creative DC.
Elite production. Among the most consistently disruptive players at linebacker in the country. 22.0 TFL and 7.0 sacks in 2021, along with 111 total tackles. 4 INTs and 6 PD in coverage, along with 2 TDs.
Athleticism: 9.57, 19/20
Elite athlete. Terrific size for the position at nearly 6’3, 237. Small for an EDGE, but shouldn’t be asked to play there full-time. Very good long speed and excellent explosiveness.