Linebacker Draft Value Continues to Increase

07 September 2014: Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) during the NFL regular season game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Whether it’s bone-crunching hits or prolific pass-rushing moves, linebackers are the most exciting position to watch on game day.

The importance of the position has only continued to increase, as teams demand for these players to be able to stop the run, cover tight ends and backs, and get after the quarterback. Of course, not every linebacker is created equal, as some are built to stuff the run while others are asked to rush off the edge.

Depending on the style of defense, a team may need a different type of linebacker. But as we’ve seen in recent years, the number of linebackers taken in the first round has taken a substantial leap, with six going on day one last year.

But has that necessarily translated to NFL success? Let’s take a look at the first-round linebackers from the past five draft classes.

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