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Prospect Profiles: The Linebackers Class

In order to familiarize fans with some of the top names in the 2017 NFL Draft, Chargers.com will be highlighting top prospects by position each week leading up to the first day of the draft on April 27th.

*Next up is a look at some of the premiere linebackers according to pundits. *

Zach Cunningham

School: Vanderbilt
Height: 6-3
Weight: 234 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Alex Ogletree

Vanderbilt hasn't had a player selected in the first round since 2008.

That figures to change this year as Zach Cunningham is a surefire bet to come off the board Thursday night.

The first unanimous All-American in school history, he led the SEC with 125 tackles in 2016 along with 16.5 tackles for loss.  In the process, the redshirt junior was a first-team All-SEC pick for the second straight year. Overall, Cunningham finished his Commodores' career with 295 tackles, 39.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and seven forced fumbles over three years.

One of the biggest playmakers in the draft, the 6-3, 234-pounder has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.  Scouts love his natural instincts to quickly sniff out a play, as well as his ability as a true every down linebacker.   While pundits are confident he can thrive as a 3-4 inside linebacker, they believe he has all-pro potential playing outside in a 4-3 scheme. 

Combine Metrics
40-Yard Dash:4.67 seconds
Bench Press: 15 reps
Vertical Jump: 35.0 inches
Broad Jump: 125.0 inches

Jarrad Davis

School: Florida
Height: 6-1
Weight: 238 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Shaq Thompson

Jarrad Davis was considered one of the top linebacker prospects heading into the 2016 NFL Draft fresh off a dynamic junior season.

However, he opted to return for a senior season. While his production suffered in an injury-shortened campaign, teams remain highly interested in the athletic linebacker.

After making an impact in a reserve role his first two seasons, Davis broke out with a monster junior campaign in which he totaled 98 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and four passes defensed.  He still managed to notch 60 tackles, six tackles for loss and another four passes broken up in his injury-plagued 2016 season.

In addition to his natural gifts on the field, in which the 6-1, 238-pounder earns rave reviews, Davis is considered one of the best pure leaders among this year's crop of prospects.  He possesses an innate ability to lead by example and motivate.

As a result, many believe teams are itching to add him to their rosters.

Reuben Foster

School: Alabama
Height: 6-0
Weight: 229 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Bobby Wagner

Based solely on his play on the field and natural talent, draft experts believe Reuben Foster is primed to be one of the most productive NFL linebackers.  In fact, they expect him to be a difference maker from the first the moment he steps on the field even as a rookie.

A unanimous All-American and All-SEC selection, the Alabama product won the Butkis award as the nation's top linebacker after another dominant season.  Foster led his team with 115 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks.  He also has a knack for raising his game when needed the most.  For instance, he was named the SEC Championship Game MVP as he recorded 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks to lead the Tide to victory.

Foster is regarded as one of the most ferocious hitters in this year's draft.  He also boasts sideline-to-sideline speed to cover the entire field.  As a result, some wouldn't be surprised if he was among the top 10 players to come off the board.

Raekwon McMillan

School: Ohio State
Height: 6-2
Weight: 240 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Mason Foster

Ohio State has boasted one of the top defenses in college football over recent seasons.

While Raekwon McMillan may not have garnered the same publicity as high-profile teammates Joey Bosa, Malik Hooker and so on, he played an equally important role.  He also contributed from the moment he joined the team as a freshman, totaling 54 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2014.

McMillan raised his game as a sophomore, named a finalist for the Butkis award as the nation's top linebacker. He started all 15 games in 2015, recording 119 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.  Last season, he was first-team All-Big Ten pick and second-team All-American as he finished with 102 tackles and seven tackles for loss.

At his best attacking downfield, McMillan is a physical tackler who unloads upon the ball carrier. He also possesses natural instincts, which often puts him in the right position to make a play. 

After establishing himself as a key cog in one of the country's top defenses, he now looks to prove he can make a similar impact at the next level.

Combine Metrics
40-Yard Dash:4.61 seconds
Bench Press: 23 reps
Vertical Jump: 33.0 inches
Broad Jump: 121.0 inches

Haason Reddick

School: Temple
Height: 6-1
Weight: 237 pounds
NFL Network Pro Comparison: Ryan Shazier

Four years ago, Haason Reddick was a walk-on with no guarantee of making Temple's roster.

Now, he is poised to not only be a first round pick in the NFL Draft, but possibly go in the first 10.

Reddick improved by leaps and bounds each season, ending his four-year career with 147 tackles, 46 tackles for loss, 18 sacks, seven passes defensed and three forced fumbles in 47 games. It culminated with a dominant senior campaign in which he set career-highs with 65 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, four passes defensed and three forced fumbles.

While slightly undersized by NFL standards at 6-1, 237-pounds, Reddick uses it to his advantage.  Combining strong football IQ with explosive athleticism, he makes game-changing plays all over the field but especially in the backfield.  After all, he ranked third in the country with 22.5 tackles for loss in 2016.

Overall, Reddick is seen as a prospect still on the rise with one of the highest ceilings in the NFL draft.

Combine Metrics
40-Yard Dash:4.52 seconds
Bench Press: 24 reps
Vertical Jump: 36.5 inches
Broad Jump: 133.0 inches

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed above do not represent the opinions or policies of the Los Angeles Chargers' front office staff, coaches or executives.

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