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Clinton's Draft Preview: Linebackers


Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis provides four names at the running back position that Washington could select during the 2018 NFL Draft that will take place later this month.

While the Washington Redskins re-signed veteran linebackers Mason Foster and Zach Brown, the team's starting Mike and Mo linebackers when healthy last year, during the offseason, former running back Clinton Portis has a few prospects in this year's draft that could be immediate contributors for the defense.

As he continues his position previews for the 2018 NFL Draft, here's four linebackers Portis believes could fit in well with Washington.

*Roquan Smith  *No other inside linebacker put on a show last year quite like Georgia's Roquan Smith.

Last year, the 6-foot-1, 236 pounder was a unanimous All-American selection as he recorded a team-high 137 tackles while also being selected as the Butkus Award winner, given annual to the nation's top linebacker.

In three seasons at Georgia, Smith appeared in 28 games and recorded 252 tackles (20.5 for loss) along with 6.5 sacks, three passes defensed, three fumbles forced and three fumbles recovered.

"This guy is fast, he's physical, he can cover, he will thump you," Portis said. "That's what you need out of the linebacker position. We have some good guys here, so the addition of Roquan Smith to go along with those guys would be great for our defense."

Rashaan EvansDuring the 2017 NFL Draft, the Redskins selected Alabama players with their first two picks in Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson. There's a possibility one of their college teammates could come to Washington as well.

In three seasons at Alabama, Rashaan Evans appeared in 40 games, recording 137 tackles (13 for loss) along with 14 sacks, five passes defensed, two fumbles forced and two fumbles recovered.

As a senior in 2017, Evans was named a first-team All-American by the AFCA while also earning All-SEC honors. In 12 games, the Auburn, Ala., native recorded 74 tackles with six sacks, three passes defensed, one fumble forced and one fumble recovered.

"This is a physical guy, a guy who is going to come downhill, a guy who's going to blitz and create havoc in the backfield," Portis said. "This guy can also cover the tight end position which we're going to need. The Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys, they all have great tight ends. We need a guy who can compete with those guys."  

Leighton Vander Esch

Check out these photos of Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.

Despite starting just one season for the Boise State Broncos, Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be one of the top linebackers taken in this year's NFL Draft.

During his 2017 campaign, the Riggins, Idaho, native recorded 129 tackles (81 solo) along with four passes defensed, three interceptions, three fumbles forced and three sacks.

He was named the 2017 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.

"He has the size to stop anyone," Portis said. "You're talking about Ray Lewis size, you're talking about some of the better linebackers in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch, he was only a one-year starter at Boise State, but this guy brought it."  

Shaquem GriffinShaquem Griffin continues to overcome the odds.

Despite losing his left hand at four years old due to a rare condition, Griffin never doubted that he'd be able to be a playmaker on the football field.

Griffin received 14 offers while in high school before choosing to play at Central Florida so that he could play with his brother.

In four seasons with the Knights, Griffin appeared in 38 games, tallying 163 tackles (30 for loss) along with 17 sacks, 13 passes defensed, five fumbles recovered and four fumbles forced.

As a junior in 2016, the 6-foot-1, 227 pounder was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, leading the team in tackles for loss (20) and sacks (11.5). He also registered 92 tackles.

He closed out his college career with 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks against Auburn, earning Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Defensive MVP.

"This guy's the story that everyone loves," Portis said. "He lost his hand as a child, but that didn't stop him. Nothing has stopped him. He had the best 40 time at the Combine, he's only come out and showed you nothing is going to stop him and if you watch his play on the field, he's flying around, he's making tackles, he's making sacks. He's doing everything you could possibly ask."

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