2024 NFL Draft: Cowboys, Chargers should take a deep look at these NFL prospects at linebacker

A look at the linebackers the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers should consider during the 2024 NFL Draft

Michigan linebacker Junior Colson
Michigan linebacker Junior Colson / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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Two teams that will likely be looking for help in the 2024 NFL Draft at the linebacker position are the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Chargers. While this year’s inside linebacker class has no one that carries a first or second-round grade, it does offer depth with a total of 13 players earning a draft grade on my draft board.

The Dallas Cowboys will be looking for a run-stuffing middle linebacker who can help improve their 15th-rated run defense. They also may start looking for a replacement for Leighton Vander Esch who is coming off another neck injury. One linebacker who could make sense for them is Tommy Eichenberg of Ohio State.

Meanwhile, the Chargers may be looking more for depth at inside linebacker especially if they can resign Kenneth Murray Jr. This is a need as Eric Kendricks is nearly 32 years old and the team will need an eventual replacement for him. Look for the Chargers to look at adding a backer like Jackson Mitchell of UConn in the sixth or seventh round.

Top middle linebackers in the 2024 NFL Draft

1. Jeremiah Trotter Jr, Clemson

Jeremiah Trotter Jr has been a dynamic playmaker over the past two seasons accounting for 29.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, and four interceptions. This playmaking ability should transfer to the NFL as well. One of the reasons why Trotter will earn a starting job in the NFL is his instincts. Against the run, he makes plays sideline to sideline and does a great job playing downhill vs. inside running plays. He also is comfortable in coverage displaying the awareness and speed to matchup in either man-to-man or zone coverage. One thing that will likely make him a late second or early third-round pick is his lack of size coming in at only 6-foot. This lack of size gives him issues when it comes to fighting off blockers. Draft Grade: Third Round

2. Junior Colson, Michigan

Michigan’s Junior Colson has all the traits to be a good middle linebacker in the NFL. In pass coverage, he shows the speed to carry vertical routes, and also the agility to easily open up his hips in man coverage. He is also a good run defender who shows the strength to fight off blocks and is a hard-hitting tackler. Scouts would like to see him diagnose running plays a little quicker though. His most impressive traits center around his character. He was named Michigan’s toughest player after playing the final two months of the season with a wrap on his hands. His coaches also rave about how selfless he is and how he will do anything for the team. He could be an ideal replacement for Kenneth Murray Jr, especially since we already know Jim Harbaugh is a fan of his game. Draft Grade Third Round

"The thing I love about Junior is his willingness to sacrifice; his willingness to lay it all on the line for his teammates, Michigan, for this program."

Chargers DC Jesse Minter on Colson

3. Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State

Ohio State’s Tommy Eichenberg is your classic old-school middle linebacker due to his toughness and ability to stop the run. In this area, he shows outstanding insects and is rarely out of position. He also is a sound tackler who missed very few tackles during his Ohio State career. The reason he could fall in the NFL Draft though is he is a bit stiff which hurts him when it comes to changing directions. This affects him in coverage and he will likely be a liability if asked to play man-to-man against most NFL running backs. Despite this limitation, Eichenberg should be a good base linebacker and an ideal fit for him could be the Cowboys. Draft Grade: Third Round