In this series, Pete Hailey will preview 11 players whom the Commanders could select with the 11th overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Next up: Linebacker Devin Lloyd.
Background: 6-foot-3, 235-pound defender... from Chula Vista, Ca. ... Will turn 24 years old this September... Redshirted and then played four seasons at Utah... 255 tackles, 43 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, five interceptions in collegiate career... Consensus All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Biggest strength: For those who want to quickly and broadly point to Lloyd's ceaseless production at school as the answer here, go right ahead, because it's a viable response.
However, to zoom in a little closer on one specific trait, his ability to recognize what the offense is trying to do and then break through into the backfield in order to stop it is especially praiseworthy.
In his senior campaign, Lloyd compiled an astounding 22 tackles for loss, a total that followed 11 and 10 tackles for loss from 2019 and 2020, respectively. His 16.5 sacks are equally eye-catching. Scouting reports centered on Lloyd laud his "slippery" playstyle, which allows him to dodge blockers on the way to the ball.
Lloyd can read and react in coverage, too, as evidenced by his five career picks (four in 2021), three of which concluded with him standing in the opposing team's end zone.
Biggest question mark: Lloyd redshirted at Utah so he could make a position switch from safety to linebacker, and while his safety background shows up in a lot of positive ways, it also shows up in his lighter frame.
His elusiveness is tremendous, but when he's unable to skirt linemen and instead has to engage with them, he can get overwhelmed. Knowing that, he can sometimes take odd angles to his destination that leave the unit as a whole vulnerable.
Now, Lloyd can continue to bulk up in the NFL, but early on, he could run into trouble — literally — in the form of aggressive guards and tackles.
Potential fit in Washington: The thought of drafting a first-round linebacker one year after drafting a first-round linebacker isn't exactly thrilling, but unlike Jamin Davis, Lloyd projects as a prospect who can play the middle.
With that in mind, Lloyd's arrival would push Davis to the outside, which is where he's most comfortable. Cole Holcomb could man the other outside spot, meanwhile. That would give Washington an intriguing mix at the second level.
Draft analysts are a bit split on Lloyd's value, so perhaps he'd more of a candidate for the Commanders if they trade back in the order. That said, many view him as the top linebacker in the class, and Ron Rivera — like most coaches — loves the idea of plugging in an every-down threat at the heart of the defense and is looking for Washington's version of that. Maybe Lloyd could be it.
Random and probably ultimately useless fact that's being included in this story anyway: Lloyd wore No. 0 at Utah after the NCAA began letting its athletes do so, which is a tremendous indicator of the guy's decision-making and on-field swagger sense.
Previous profiles: WR Treylon Burks | CB Trent McDuffie | S Kyle Hamilton