Senior — 6-foot-2, 240 pounds
Without doubt, the best middle linebacker prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft is Virginia senior Micah Kiser.
Kiser has an ideal frame for a swift and shifty inside-type linebacker capable of excelling in coverage, which is what the 49ers defense will need moving forward. But as John Dove of With the First Pick points out, Kiser’s run-stopping abilities and reaction time aren’t the best:
"Kiser is an average run defender who can deliver big hits and make sound tackles. However, he has trouble keeping clean and navigating through traffic. Some of this has to do with his slow reads and reaction time. He has a tendency stand still off the snap which allows the blockers to get into his frame. Kiser will also make poor reads which include filling the wrong hole. The biggest concern is that he just doesn’t make enough wow or impact plays. He’s not someone who routinely makes tackles behind the line of scrimmage nor generates turnovers. Kiser is more of that linebacker who cleans things up several yards down field."
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Perhaps this is why Kiser could slip out of Round 1, although middle linebackers rarely find themselves going in the first draft frame these days anyway.
It’s also possible Kiser would thrive in a role where he doesn’t have to be the playmaker. The only question is whether or not the 49ers would want to invest a first- or early second-round draft pick on a blue-chip contributor.
Regardless, the Niners are likely going to try to land an adequate replacement for NaVorro Bowman via the NFL Draft — a player capable of complimenting the now-unquestioned linebacking leader, Reuben Foster.