The 2021 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Big Board is being rolled out by position, featuring players to watch. Today, we continue with linebackers:
*NOTE: We at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl are disappointed for those players whose senior seasons have been disrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In respect for those who may still play in 2021, we have altered our preseason Big Board to reflect only those seniors whose schools are actively preparing to play a fall season.
THREE TO WATCH
James Skalski, ILB, Clemson:
As a fifth-year graduate student, James Skalski’s teammates have begun referring to him as “sensei” due to his grasp of the Tigers’ defensive scheme. As the primary inside linebacker in 2019 who made Clemson’s defensive calls, the Sharpsburg, Georgia native displayed great command on the field aligning teammates pre-snap as well as quickly keying and diagnosing once the ball was hiked. Standing at 6-0 and 235 pounds, Skalski isn’t the biggest linebacker in the draft class but does play with one of the highest motors. Aiding the All-ACC Academic selection’s play speed in this zone-match defense are his instincts, which enable him to get a jump on where the ball is going.
Jermaine Johnson, OLB, Georgia:
In his first season with the Bulldogs, Jermaine Johnson showed promise as a developmental stand-up linebacker who can perform a variety of roles. The former Independence CC product and star of 2018’s “Last Chance U” aligned as an outside linebacker in base, rush end in nickel, and inside linebacker in dime, displaying the versatility that NFL teams covet. Blessed with prototypical outside linebacker size at 6-4 and 240 pounds, Johnson has good, straight-line speed for the position and is capable of dropping into low zones in pass coverage. If the Eden Prairie, Minnesota native adds to his pass rush toolbox in 2020, he’ll further expand his diverse skill set.
Garret Wallow, ILB, Texas Christian:
Garret Wallow is one of those non-flashy players who, when you look down at your note sheet at the end of the game, you’ve given credit for 20 tackles. The productive inside linebacker from New Orleans led the Big 12 in tackles in 2019 and it’s not surprising considering his instincts, smooth lateral movement skills, aggressive nature and effort. At 6-2 and 220 pounds, Wallow is a slightly undersized linebacker prospect who projects to remain inside at the next level while being a core special teams contributor. Linebackers with his smarts and leadership, however, are always in high demand.
2021 NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL BIG BOARD: LINEBACKERS
|Tony||Fields II||LB||West Virginia||6-1||220|