2022 NFL Draft: Three Middle-Round ILB Options for Packers

Three inside linebackers the Packers could consider in the Draft.

Let’s be realistic, it is highly unlikely the Green Bay Packers will use one of their first four selections in the 2022 NFL Draft at the inside linebacker position.

They haven’t used a first-round selection for an off-ball linebacker since AJ Hawk in 2006, and since then, they have only used one Day 2 selection, which was Oren Burks in 2018. The Packers have more pressing needs, like wide receiver, edge rusher, and offensive line to address in the first two rounds. 

Maybe, a linebacker prospect, like Chad Muma or Leo Chenal, excite them enough to spend one of their two second picks on the selection. However, with the re-signing of De’Vondre Campbell this offseason it seems less likely Green Bay spends the early draft capital to address the position.

While the Packers already have an impact player and defensive leader in Campbell—making inside linebacker less of a need—they could use a complementary piece to go with the all-pro linebacker.

Granted, Krys Barnes is a solid run defender and is a serviceable starter alongside Campbell. He certainly has value on the roster, but it would be a stretch to call him an impact player or a dynamic athlete. 

Joe Barry’s defense could also use more speed and depth in the middle of the field. It is also nerve-wracking to think about what inside linebacker looks like if Campbell or Barnes go down with an injury this upcoming season. The Packers could find themselves in a tough spot. Ty Summers and Isaiah McDuffie don’t exactly move the confidence needle.

It would make a lot of sense for Green Bay to use one of their middle round picks to help bolster the position, especially after they have already addressed more pressing needs in the first couple of rounds. With this in mind, here are three intriguing options for the Packers that could be available between the third and fifth rounds of the draft.

1. Channing Tindall, Georgia

It would be an understatement to say Tindall is a superb athlete. His blazing 4.47 forty time and 42-inch vertical were both near the top of the linebacker class at the NFL Combine. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker possesses very rare physical traits. However, the explosive defender may fall in the middle rounds of the draft because his game lacks experience and remains raw.

Tindall is an electric, hair-on-fire run defender, who will chase down ball carriers across the field and play with a nonstop motor. His ceiling is high as a pro prospect, and he could be a real find in the third or fourth round. However, he does need to make progress in play recognition and pass coverage. 

And despite possessing all of the physical tools to play linebacker in the NFL, Tindall never fully emerged as a starter in college, splitting series with Quay Walker at the other inside linebacker position alongside Nakobe Dean in the Bulldogs defense. Granted, even with limited reps, Tindall still recorded 67 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a senior.

Immediately, Tindall would give the Packers a dynamic special teams ace, while also giving them another active run defender with sideline-to-sideline speed to play alongside Campbell.

2. D’Marco Jackson, Appalachian State

Jackson was a highly productive linebacker at Appalachian State, earning the 2021 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. Recording 120 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, six sacks, 12 hurries, and five pass breakups, the redshirt senior linebacker made his impact felt in various ways on defense.

At 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, Jackson has the size and speed (4.55) to play linebacker in the modern NFL. He was a standout special teams player, active run stopper, and reliable pass defender in college. Jackson offers a lot as a pro prospect.

While he could improve in getting off blocks and being more consistent with his play reads, Jackson is a highly active defender with the speed and athleticism to play well in space at the next level. He would be a great fit in their nickel defense that could stay on the field in passing situations.

Jackson could be available early on Day 3 of the draft, and he could balance out well what the defense already has in Barnes as Campbell’s running mate.

3. Troy Andersen, Montana State

Andersen has impressive size (6-4, 243), speed (4.42), and explosive burst for the position. These rare athletic traits could push the Montana State product up draft boards this April. However, considering he’s a FCS prospect, some concerns about level of competition may keep him from rising above the third or fourth rounds of the draft.

As the Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Andersen certainly had plenty of production at linebacker. As a senior he averaged 10 tackles per game, while also recording 14 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups.

Andersen’s athleticism allows him to hold up well in space when dropping in coverage or chasing down ball carriers on the perimeter. The stout linebacker also has the size and strength to hold his own between the tackles and not get washed out of the trash.

On film, Andersen shows great instincts and mental processing. However, there is some guess work involved in predicting if he can make a big jump to the next level and play that fast against NFL offenses. If Andersen is still on the board in the fourth or fifth rounds, his upside makes him well worth the investment.

 

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Comments (32)

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Coldworld's picture

March 25, 2022 at 03:08 pm

I like Anderson. A ST now prospect with future upside and the apparent football instincts to surpass Summers and give Barnes a run for his money too.

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Lphill's picture

March 25, 2022 at 03:18 pm

Chandon Sullivan to the Vikings .

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Packers0808's picture

March 25, 2022 at 03:30 pm

More detriment than help really. Letting him walk no big deal really!

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jannes bjornson's picture

March 25, 2022 at 04:06 pm

Should have been cut last season.

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Coldworld's picture

March 25, 2022 at 04:14 pm

Just another spot to fill, or rather the 4th cb spot.

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HankScorpio's picture

March 25, 2022 at 03:33 pm

Good for him! I hope he got a boatload.

I'm certainly not at all concerned he's going to a rival. Any more than I was concerned Lucas Patrick did. Neither will move the needle much.

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HankScorpio's picture

March 25, 2022 at 03:28 pm

LBs are prime ST candidates, too. The Packers lost Oren Burks, who chewed up a lot of ST snaps. Replacing those snaps and upgrading the defensive contribution of Krys Barnes in one fell swoop with a 3rd-4th round pick would be a big win, in my book,.

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GLM's picture

March 25, 2022 at 03:40 pm

I'm surprised we left out Leo Chenal. I think he would make an excellent addition to the defense.

OK...granted...he's not a middle-round prospect...he'll likely go earlier than that.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

March 25, 2022 at 04:20 pm

I see a lot of Zadarious Smith in Chenal's play.

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dobber's picture

March 26, 2022 at 09:59 am

Smith was mostly a hand-on-the-ground DE in college, but motor was never an issue for either guy.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

March 25, 2022 at 04:28 pm

I'm hoping the Packers take a replacement for Barnes in the second round. I see it as having a much greater impact than a third edge. I'm a big Chad Muma fan, but Devin Lloyd is a lot like DeVondre Campbell (can you imagine a pair of them?), Nakobe Dean is a tremendously instinctive, fast, playmaker, Quay Walker is similar to Lloyd/Campbell, Leo Chenal is a TFL/sack monster, etc. I think Tindall will go in the second as well.

I don't know what order the Packers rank them, but surely ONE of them could have a transformative effect on this defense.

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LambeauPlain's picture

March 26, 2022 at 06:49 pm

I would love Chenal in GB. I am certainly biased having watched every Badger game he played. And like Penn State, Wisconsin is becoming LB University. Badger LBs thrive under Leonard's 3-4 pro defense. Chenal could be the best NFL LB from WI since TJ Watt (who only had one great year at LB and was projected as a third rounder).

Chenal, the B1G's LB of the year, never came off the field because he was a monster in run D and Leo the Lion on passing downs. Barry would use him all over the front 7 in pass rush situations.

Chenal would be huge upgrade over Barnes and would help Gary, Smith, Clark, & rookie Edge draftee pressure and sack the passer.

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HarryHodag's picture

March 25, 2022 at 04:32 pm

Tindall will be long gone before round 3, though he would be good. I'm suspicious of drafting small-college players. They simply have not experienced anything akin to the NFL size and speed and will take a good deal of time to develop, if at all. If you notice, the Packers like to draft major college athletes in the top rounds.

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Turophile's picture

March 25, 2022 at 05:16 pm

Good thoughts Dandalhke.
You could argue that the Packers (sort of) took a shot at an ILB in 2018 in round two (pick 45). That pick, Josh Jackson, was actually a safety but I believe the Packers saw him more as a safety/ILB hybrid. They have addressed the position several times in the last few years, with Jackson (if you choose to count him), Burks, Martinez (4th round), Ryan (4th round).

I am very pleased that they found their guy in Campbell and were wise enough to pay him to stay (quite a jump for him to have a $10m pa contract for the next 5 years). Unlike many people who post mocks, you are not expecting a first or second round ILB, neither am I. Mid rounds make a lot of sense, after key positions like Edge, WR, DT and maybe TE are addressed (which could all be done in the first two rounds).

Props to you for looking at guys further down the draft board, a nice change from the excessive concentration on first round picks. There are plenty of talented guys later in the draft, where the Packers could pick up their ILB, along with S, G, return specialist.

I am interested in how many picks the Packers end up with (they have 11 at this time). Those 7 picks from rounds 3 to 7 will probably end up as about 5 when the dust has settled (a couple of trade ups using up the other two). That is still 9 picks in all, of which 5 are in the top 100.

One other guy who could be intruiging is Penn State's Brandon Smith (maybe a round 4-5 prospect). He has all the athletic boxes ticked at 6'3", 240 with a possible sub 4.4 40 run in high school. His 'problem' is that he doesn't seem to be a fast learner, so he will require a little patience to get things down. GB might take a chance on him, as they do really like high RAS guys. Some of these high RAS picks end up busting, like Donnerson did (drafted in round 7, 2018), but Smith just might do better.

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Johnblood27's picture

March 25, 2022 at 06:00 pm

Turo, you beat me to Smith, he is on my list.

I also like Nik Bonitto from Oklahoma to be an ILB-OLB hybrid kinda guy. He lacks the bulk the Pack likes at edge at 240, but he does get after the QB. I see him as a monster at ILB with his 5.54 speed and some bend.

I like Damone clark out of LSU as well.

Where do you have Muma going? I have seen him listed as a late round guy and as a high pick, WTF?

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GLM's picture

March 25, 2022 at 08:31 pm

I like what Damone Clark could bring to the defense, but with the re-signing of Campbell, it may be a luxury to take him in the 3rd round.

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dobber's picture

March 26, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Damone Clark had back surgery this offseason and there are questions about his career outlook.

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Turophile's picture

March 28, 2022 at 03:07 am

Muma has the size, smarts grit and tackling you want to see.

Thedraftnetwork has him at 60 at this time. I think that might be a bit high. I'd guess at late 3rd myself,

He is not the 225lb stellar athlete that is so popular these days at ILB (he's listed at 242lb). As per NFL network report his 40 speed (4.63) is good and his standing high jump (40") suggests a strong lower body. They list his weaknesses as taking false steps sometimes with wasted motion, and he has some difficulty slipping blocks. He is very good at mirroring opponents coming out of the backfield and filling in gaps in the D line.

I think he is better playing in a 4-3 system, but he has enough about him to consider him as a Packer. I just think the grade on him will be a little lower for the Packers than it would be for a 4-3 team.

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Handsback's picture

March 25, 2022 at 06:48 pm

I looked up Tony Pauline's draftable ILBs and this is what he has listed. Tony is sometimes generous with his rankings, so consider that while reviewing them. Also Chenal from WI is considered an OLB.

No. listed name Round to be drafted
21 Nakobe Dean 1st
44 Brian Asamoah 2nd
71 Quay Walker 2nd
76 Chad Muma 3rd
85 Terrel Bernard 3rd
94 Damone Clark 3rd
114 Derrian Beavers 4th
135 Zakoby McClain 4th
141 Josh Ross 5th
170 Mike Rose 5th
198 Nephi Sewell 6th
220 Micah McFadden 6th
230 Chance Campbell 6th
237 Ellis Brooks 6th
274 Nate Landman 7th
278 D'marco Jackson 7th
299 James Skalski 7th

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Johnblood27's picture

March 25, 2022 at 10:40 pm

where is christian Harris Ala?

Brandon Smith?

Devin Lloyd?

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Handsback's picture

March 26, 2022 at 02:04 pm

All great guys, all considered OLBs.
Devin Lloyd #11 1st round
Christian Harris #33 early 2nd
Brandon Smith #48 2nd round

Now can these guys make a change? Some surely can, but Green Bay is looking for another edge rusher so I suspect these guys are on their desire/hope list.

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PackEyedOptimist's picture

March 26, 2022 at 07:14 pm

No Christian Harris? Most lists put him at the top of the ILB list. Personally, I like Lloyd, Dean, Muma, Chenal and Walker as my top 5 ILBs.

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stockholder's picture

March 25, 2022 at 08:56 pm

Give me Channing Tindall. What a great choice!!

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Guam's picture

March 26, 2022 at 09:52 am

As an avid Badger fan who has watched Chenal for his entire college career, I find it interesting that Pauline has him listed at OLB. Chenal is an excellent run defender and very good pass rusher which would seem to fit the OLB slot well. He also has the size (260 lbs) to play outside and not be overmatched.

I am not a fan of Chenal at ILB. He was rarely asked to play coverage at Wisconsin and the few times I saw him in coverage, he was poor to awful. Whether it was lack of practice, lack of recognition or lack of ability I can't say. Given Chenal's RAS score (9.99 and 4th best in the history of the Combine for linebackers), I suspect Gute might see him as an OLB.

I like the kid from Montana State (Anderson) as a later round development prospect. Saw him play in the FCS playoffs and he was outstanding.

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dobber's picture

March 26, 2022 at 09:49 am

He's (Chenal) a unique player who doesn't have a true fit in most defenses. He'll get exploited in coverage as an ILB/MLB and green as an OLB in an odd front (which might be his best fit). He's a high-motor, see-ball get-ball kind of ILB who is fun to watch, but without a plan to really make the most of him, I don't know how high his value actually is.

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Guam's picture

March 26, 2022 at 09:58 am

The Packers have already drafted one freak athlete, Rashan Gary, who had to transition from down linemen to OLB and that worked out pretty well although it took some time. Chenal's RAS score puts him in the same athletic category as Gary. I wouldn't be surprised to see Gute draft Chenal fairly high (second round?) as a developmental OLB just like he did with Gary.

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dobber's picture

March 26, 2022 at 10:09 am

Possible. In many ways, I think Chenal is a reasonable comparison for Whitney Mercilus (who was a little bigger but not as athletic). What he is, is a leader type. If there's anything that the Packers could use on defense, it's a character guy who can lift the unit that way.

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LambeauPlain's picture

March 26, 2022 at 01:59 pm

Here are the facts, regardless of "draft guru's" listing of players at a position they think best.

Leo Chenal did not play OLB, he played on one of the best college defenses in Leonard's pro-style 3-4 as an ILB.

The only reason you saw him in coverage a "few times" is that was not his role. On running plays he was a tackling and TFL monster. And on passing downs, he rushed the passer and was a pressure and sack machine.

To put him in coverage is a waste of his talents...like Pettine strangely did in 2020 with Preston Smith with poor results.

Campbell is the coverage ILB...it sure hasn't been Barnes! Chenal would be a HUGE upgrade over Barnes at ILB and make the Packers pass rush better.

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Guam's picture

March 26, 2022 at 04:11 pm

Your comments are usually pretty good LambeauPlain, so I am puzzled by the condescending tone and content of this one.

I am well aware of the facts surrounding Chenal and that shouldn't be a surprise given my statement that I am an avid Badgers fan. The problem is that NFL ILB's are different than college ILBs as they are very often put in coverage on RBs and TEs. That does not play to Chenal's strengths. I was pleased that someone as reputable as Tony Pauline saw Chenal as an OLB as I think that may be a better fit for his skill set in the pros. And I intentionally drew the parallel with Gary because Gary changed positions from college to the pros to better facilitate his skill set for the pro game.

Time will tell where Chenal fits best in the NFL, but Dobber and I were just speculating where the best fit may be and I don't think OLB is a reach given the real strengths Chenal has even though he was a excellent ILB in college.

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LambeauPlain's picture

March 26, 2022 at 07:10 pm

My condescending tone is only toward a "draft guru" who labels Chenal as an OLB, not an ILB where he played his entire productive career. It was not directed toward you.

Yes, I agree, some college ILBs play a different scheme and role than NFL ILBs. But they also don't play an NFL 3-4 D like Leonard does at Wisconsin.

I think of Parsons, PSU, now a Cowboys ILB that prowls the center in the run game and successfully rushes the passer on passing downs. He isn't asked by Quinn to drop into coverage either. It would be a waste of his talent.

I agree with you, Chenal could also rush on passing downs as an Edge, but also from the middle, in stunts, like he did so well with the Badgers.

Barnes is an ILB. Chenal would be a huge upgrade. Barnes can't cover OR pass rush. Chenal lived in QBs front yards his entire career.

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Guam's picture

March 26, 2022 at 11:01 pm

If Barry schemes Chenal to only be a run stuffer and pass rusher, he would be successful as an ILB with the Packers. Unfortunately NFL OC's also scheme to get guys like Chenal or Parsons into coverage assignments and that could be a problem for Chenal. It certainly doesn't preclude him from being an ILB, but it is a concern. As an OLB in Barry's scheme (think Z. Smith) he would almost never be in coverage and always either rushing the passer or playing run defense which seems to be a superb fit for Chenal's skill set. I have wondered about Chenal as a pro OLB for some time, but never saw anyone in the professional ranks considering it until Tony Pauline opined on it.

Draft guru's can certainly be viewed with a great deal of skepticism, but I picked up on Pauline via Vic Ketchum, the Packers head sports writer until he retired a few years ago. Pauline was Ketchum's go-to guy for draft information and I started following Pauline and found him to be one of the most prescient draft guys I have ever read. When Pauline listed Chenal as an OLB, I was interested. That sparked the thread between Dobber and I about where Chenal might play in the pros. I certainly have no insight whether Chenal will be an ILB or an OLB, but I respect Pauline's opinion and won't be surprised if he is converted to an OLB. You certainly are welcome to disagree, but only time will truly tell the tale.

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JokeKun12's picture

April 14, 2022 at 02:43 pm

Of course Tindall. I can say he is a very promising player. I really like to play FIFA or Madden NFL and I choose exactly the team with this player! You can check out https://rndplace.com/catalog/origin

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