The 2020 NFL Draft is not loaded at the linebacker position, paving the way for a Group of 5 player like Akeem Davis-Gaither to shine.
The 2020 NFL Draft class is by no means oversaturated with off-ball linebacker talent, at least guys who jump off the page as top 100 players.
The lack of talent at the top end of the linebacker class means that players from outside the Power 5 programs are going to have the chance to impress in the offseason circuit and force people to go back and watch the tape, and that’s certainly going to be the case with Appalachian State linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, who is having a phenomenal senior season with the Mountaineers.
App State is having a phenomenal year as a team in general right now, ranking 23rd in the AP polls with wins against North Carolina and South Carolina and only three points between a 9-1 and 10-0 record.
It’s safe to say Davis-Gaither has played a tremendous role in that.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior linebacker plays bigger than his listed size, but can do all of the things NFL teams are looking for linebackers to do at the next level.
Not only does he play with tremendous instincts, he plays with fantastic game speed and understands angles and hits like a ton of bricks.
He can blitz, he can cover, and he’s got range from sideline to sideline.
He’s got 73 combined tackles this season with 11.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, an interception, and six pass breakups.
Davis-Gaither’s size will be a question mark at the next level as it relates to him playing a traditional linebacker position, but he can certainly be moved around a defensive formation and do a lot of things for your team, including playing special teams.
He’s active as a pass rusher and can come on some creative blitzes, but I think he’s going to be especially valuable as an off-ball linebacker in coverage.
He’s just so instinctive playing the ball, whether he’s in space or at the line of scrimmage. His long arms allow him to get his hands up in the throwing lane and he uses great timing to bat balls down at or near the line of scrimmage.
This guy’s athleticism is going to translate well to the way the game is played today, and he’s got a chance to cement his status as a top 100 player with a strong showing in Mobile.