Oct 9, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns linebacker DeMarvion Overshown (0) reacts after sacking Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler (not pictured) during the first quarter at the Cotton Bowl. Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
For the past few seasons, the Patriots have tried to find a more athletic coverage linebacker, a role that has become more and more prevalent in the modern NFL. With Mack Wilson and Raekwon McMillan free agents and Cameron McGrone now in Indianapolis, they may need to turn to the draft to find the next player up.
There are two such players on Covington’s National team, DeMarvion Overshown from Texas and Ivan Pace Jr. from Cincinnati. Overshown in particular is an exciting prospect, given his versatility. He mainly played middle linebacker for the Longhorns this year, but lined up everywhere from defensive line to slot corner. At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds he can play the run, rush the passer, and has the ability to run with running backs and tight ends in coverage. The only question with him will be consistency. He’s currently projected to be a Day 2 pick.
Pace is a bit more of a traditional linebacker as Overshown, and not quite the athlete. Still he plays a well-rounded game at 6-foot, 235 pounds. He had 92 tackles in 13 games this year, while being targeted just 14 times in 267 coverage snaps. Pace is a projected early Day 3 pick.
The American roster has a couple of player who profile similarly as well. Henry To’oTo’o from Alabama is another rangy, thre-down linebacker at 6-foot-2, 224 pounds who’s football IQ is among the highest in the draft. When he transferred from Tennessee to Alabama in 2021, Nick Saban named him the defensive signal caller (the college football equivalent of the ‘green dot’) in his first year in Tuscaloosa.
Later in the draft is maybe the most versatile of the group in SirVocea Dennis from Pittsburgh. Dennis, at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, lined as a defensive lineman, linebacker, slot cornerback, and free safety in 2022 while also being a key contributor on special teams. Dennis is a smart, tough, aggressive player, although that aggressiveness does get the best of him at times. He has a ton of potential though, and could be a steal late on Day 3 if he ends up in the right situation.
As for outside linebackers/edge rushers? Covington will be working with Andre Carter II from Army. After finishing second in the nation in sacks last year behind only potential No. 1 overall pick Will Anderson, Carter is currently projected to be a top-50 pick which would make him far and away the highest-drafted player from a service academy in the modern era. His size and length – 6-foot-7, 260 pounds – make him a tough matchup on the edge. He improved as a run defender in 2022.
TCU’s Dee Winters is on the American team, coming off of a bigtime performance in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Winters is another hybrid linebacker/safety, and showed against Michigan how well he can fly around the field at 6-foot-1, 300 pounds. He had nine sacks in 107 pass rush snaps last year, while being mainly used in a coverage role.