3 linebackers to watch for Chiefs at 2023 NFL Scouting Combine
The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine is well underway, but prospects will take the field for the first time on Thursday for on-field drills and workouts. You can watch the edge rushers, interior defensive linemen and linebackers workout from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET on NFL Network.
The Kansas City Chiefs added a number of young contributors to the team via the draft just a season ago. Several of those players posted impressive performances at the combine. The team will look to follow up its standout 2022 draft class by adding even more instant-impact players in 2023.
Keep an eye on the following three linebackers working out on Thursday. A head-turning performance could put any number of the players squarely on the radar for Brett Veach and company.
Auburn LB Owen Pappoe
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Pappoe is expected to post one of the better performances among linebackers at the combine this year. The 6-foot-1 and 225-pound linebacker landed on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks” list ahead of the 2022 college football season because of his ability to bench press 425 pounds along with being clocked at a 4.32 40-yard dash. He told reporters on Wednesday that they can expect the same types of freaky performances from him on Thursday. Teams have mentioned they envision him as a MIKE or WILL linebacker at the next level. He boasts good range, sound tackling and an instinctive style in coverage, leading to a productive senior campaign with 91 total tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, three passes defended and an interception.
Tulane LB Dorian Williams
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Williams will be considered a little undersized by NFL standards, listed below 6-foot-1, but with a sturdy-built 228-pound frame. He started his career early playing as an overhang, but he began playing the MIKE and WILL position more recently for the Green Wave. He’s a toolsy linebacker with great closing speed, who has a long wingspan to help him bring down defenders. His 2022 season concluded with 132 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions and seven passes defended. He also has a ton of experience on special teams (over 700 snaps) during his career, which is always a bonus for Kansas City. He was clocked at 19.09 MPH by Zebra Technologies at the Senior Bowl, which made him the fastest off-ball linebacker in attendance.
Purdue LB Jalen Graham
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Graham is one of the top coverage linebackers in the 2023 NFL draft class. He has the size and length to be effective on early downs, but he can also work as a sub-package player as a strong safety or overhang defender. He’s that new-age hybrid defender that every NFL defensive coordinator is looking for. His instincts are exceptional and he became a big playmaker at Purdue over the past two seasons, recording over 100 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, two sacks, 12 passes defended, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. How all of that translates at the combine will certainly impact his draft stock.