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Draft Primer 2024: Inside Linebacker

White on road to recovery and reinforcements added to LB room


The Cardinals have been at the center of the NFL draft conversation for weeks, sitting at the top of the league with the most picks (six) within the first 90 selections of the draft. There's a lot of areas the Cardinals will look to address through the draft. General manager Monti Ossenfort's first draft was a success, adding multiple full-time starters and role players that played meaningful snaps. He will look to replicate that performance when the Cardinals are on the clock. Before the draft kicks off on April 25th, let's take a look at each position group and see how the Cardinals may use the draft to evaluate their needs.

Primer schedule: Edge April 17; S April 18; DL April 19

Draft primer: Inside linebacker

Previous primers: WR, QB, TE, RB, OL, CB

Players under contract: Kyzir White, Mack Wilson, Krys Barnes, Owen Pappoe, Tyreek Maddox-Williams, Trevor Nowaske

Need: Medium

The Cardinals' situation: When Kyzir White went down with a bicep injury midway through the season, an intangible piece of the Cardinals defense went missing. Josh Woods, Krys Barnes, and Owen Pappoe were all able to step in and contribute. Still, nobody could truly replace the energy that White brought to the table. Barnes was re-signed and Mack Wilson was brought in as a free agent to add reinforcements to the room.

The draft class: Outside of Edgerrin Cooper from Texas A&M, there aren't many inside linebackers that have received first-round and early second-round grades from experts in mock drafts. Cooper had 84 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and eight sacks last season. Towards the back end of Day Two and beyond, inside linebackers like Payton Wilson, Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Junior Colson will begin coming off the board.

The conclusion: Up until his injury, White didn't miss a single snap for the Cardinals defense and there wasn't much of a rotation within that room. Adding a player like Mack Wilson provides a partner White can line up alongside that also has the ability to take over if needed. Barnes proved GMs are always looking a year ahead and with White and Barnes scheduled to be free agents in 2025, the need is listed as medium with the future of the room in mind.

A look at some of the top inside linebackers entering the 2024 NFL Draft.