Each week leading up to the 2019 NFL draft, we will be breaking down a position of need for the Denver Broncos along with the top prospects at those positions — their strengths, weaknesses, draft range and how they might fit in with the Broncos. Today we delve into the inside linebackers.

The Denver Broncos might have a handful of players who can fit as inside linebackers on their roster right now, but it stands to reason that change is coming.

New head coach Vic Fangio has placed a premium on the two interior LB spots in his system at almost every step of his career. In Houston, he had Jamie Sharper in his prime. With the Ravens, Fangio had Ray Lewis and Bart Scott as foundational pieces. As the coordinator with the 49ers, Fangio built his defense around Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, funneling everything their way.

And as the architect of the Bears’ defense the past few seasons, Fangio implored Chicago to spend at that position. In 2016, they signed Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman and also used a fourth-rounder on Nick Kwiatkoski. In 2018, they spent the eighth overall pick on LB Roquan Smith. The Bears spent a lot of assets on the position because Fangio valued it, and it helped lead to Chicago having one of the best defenses in the NFL.

The Broncos could try to swing a trade for a veteran (bring Trevathan back maybe?), but there’s a great chance that they look to upgrade over the two assumed starters right now, Todd Davis and Josey Jewell. Both should be contributors if they stick around, but more is needed.

(One note: Most of the linebackers the Broncos have been connected with during the pre-draft process have been Day 2 and Day 3 prospects, and even some expected undrafted free agents, although that interest – as Fangio admitted himself at the owners’ meetings recently – can be used as a smoke screen for the media and the NFL’s other 31 teams. For instance, the Bears carefully kept a safe distance from Smith a year ago before making him their first-round pick.)

2019 draft outlook

It should not in any way be considered a banner year for this position in the draft.  But two prospects — both with the same first name – are head and shoulders above the rest, in our opinion.

LSU’s Devin White and Michigan’s Devin Bush both might be size-deficient, but they appear to be the only players from this position worth fitting in the first-round discussion. That’s because they can play on all three downs and have tangible impacts in both the run and pass defense because of their speed and range.

After that, it’s a bit lean. Here are our top five prospects for the 2019 class at inside linebacker.

1. Devin White, LSU (6-foot, 237 pounds)


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