Devin Lloyd Draft Profile
Every year the linebacker position gets more and more athletic. While it is a position that is not as coveted in the draft as it once was, there are exceptions, and I believe Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd is one of those exceptions. Lloyd led a very good Utah defense to the Rose Bowl in his final collegiate season. He also won the Pat Tillman PAC-12 defensive player of the year award and MVP of the PAC-12 championship game. With the uptick of outside-zone and high-volume passing schemes, I see teams placing a premium on a linebacker as athletically gifted as Lloyd. When Utah’s defense was playing with three linebackers Lloyd held it down as the MIKE (middle linebacker). Against obvious passing scenarios, Utah changed personnel and only had two linebackers on the field. In those situations, Lloyd played the SAM position (strong-side) and offered a lot of position versatility. Lloyd is a great example of the modern-day linebacker and is one of the best defensive players in this year’s draft.
When watching Devin Lloyd playing the first thing you notice is his athleticism. He can run with any player on the offense and I feel as if his 4.66 40-yard dash doesn’t do his game justice. At top speed, Lloyd handles his own whether he is lined up against shifty slot receivers or physical tight ends. The best thing he does on the field is shoot through holes as a run defender. His timing is impeccable and the way he blows plays up in the backfield is galvanizing. Lloyd’s burst and acceleration really stand out in the run game when he is in pursuit. Against mobile quarterbacks, Lloyd does a great job at attacking as soon as they get out of the pocket; he put up three sacks against Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels. For a team in the same conference as guys like Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, and Kyler Murray; Lloyd should be held in the highest regard due to his range. Against Stanford, Lloyd had one of the most athletic plays I have ever seen. Stanford was inside their own five-yard line and tried to just run a simple three-step slant to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. Lloyd is trying to rush the passer, recognizes the play, jumps up and snags the ball out of mid-air, and scores the touchdown. The combination of athleticism, awareness, and ball skills in that singular play was remarkable. While the majority of Lloyd’s eight sacks came on plays where the quarterback tried to scramble out of the pocket, he did show that he could line up in a two-point stance and get after the quarterback with a speed rush on the outside. In coverage, Lloyd is best in a zone in the middle of the field like Tampa two or cover four, but he can also run with anyone in man coverage. Lloyd is going to be a player who should come in from day one and show off his freak athleticism.
In my opinion, the most important trait for a middle linebacker is their intelligence, and while Lloyd is definitely a smart player, he has a tendency to either fall for fakes or fail to recognize reverses/cutbacks. There will also be times in coverage where there is a guy right next to him and it is as if Lloyd doesn’t even see him. Weighing in at 237 lbs., Lloyd will need to put on some weight because the only way he wins on his rushes is with his speed. By adding a power rush to his package, Lloyd will be able to get to the quarterback at a more consistent rate. While Lloyd is extremely athletic; he is still very raw. I could see him relying primarily on his athleticism when he first gets to the league; it may take some time for the game to slow down for him.
I am a very big fan of Devin Lloyd’s game. If defenses want to keep up with the majority of teams that run fast pace offenses, they will need a fast pace player leading them in opposition. I have a top-20 grade on Lloyd and I can’t see him getting past the Eagles’ second pick in the first round. If he does not end up with the Eagles, I could see the Giants trading back and taking him or the Texans taking him 13th overall. In the NFL, I think he can be a better version of Zach Cunningham who is already a pretty damn good football player. With that being said, I believe Cunningham is a great projection for the type of player that Lloyd will be. Devin Lloyd is going to be a really good player in the NFL and I believe he sets a perfect standard of what a modern-day NFL linebacker should be.
Eyes, IQ, + Instincts: 7.75/10
Violence + Hands: 4.75/6
Blitz + Pass Rush: 4.75/6
Range + Pursuit: 6/6
Man Coverage: 3.5/5
Zone Coverage: 4.25/5
Final Rating: 84
Pro Comparison: Zach Cunningham
Team Fits: Eagles, Giants, Texans
Draft Ranking: Top 20 Player
Draft Projection: Top 20 Pick