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Hawkeye's Jack Campbell is a Plug & Play MIKE Linebacker | NFL Draft '23

Updated: Feb 17, 2023


By Adam Aniba


Some view this draft as a down year for blue chip middle linebackers. Although it's true that class lacks 1st round star power at linebacker, multiple prospects can be day 1 difference maker.


One particular Big 10 linebacker stood out in '22. Hawkeyes linebacker Jack Campbell exemplifies professionalism and field awareness. As an imposing force, he attacks the run with authority, but also displayed his value in zone coverage.


Jack Campbell

6'5" 246 lbs | LB | Iowa

Draft Proj Late 2nd-3rd Rd

Career (34 Games)- 299 TAK (139 solo), 12.5 TFL, 3 SACKS, 3 FF, 3 FR, 10 PD & 5 INTS

'22 Stats (13 Games)- 125 TAK (59 solo), 5.5 TFL, 1 SACK, 1 FR, 1 INT, 1 PD & 2 INTS

Background

Campbell grew up in Cedar Falls, IA and attended Cedar Falls High School. He was a two sport athlete in basketball and football, leading Cedar Falls to the 4A State Championship in basketball during the '18 senior season.


Campbell was a 3-year letterman, playing OLB and MLB. During his senior season, he led his team with 168 tackles (school record) with 12.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 5 pass break-ups, and 2 blocked kicks and 1 interception returned for a score. He led his team to the District Title as a junior and senior.


Campbell was named to the All-Iowa Elite All-State team as a senior, voted captain of Class 4A all-state team, earned 1st-Team All-District honors and was named District Defensive Player of the Year.


His accomplishments led to the linebacker being rated a 3-star recruit by ESPN. After receiving multiple D1 program offers, the linebacker opted to stay home and attend the University of Iowa.


In his first two seasons at Iowa, Campbell was active in 16 games in a reserve role. The following year Campbell carved out a role as the full time middle linebacker and was named a team captain, while still dominating on special teams.


In 14 games the linebacker registered 95 tackles (56 solo), 13 pressures, 7 QB hurries, 5 QB hits, 1 sack, 3 passes defended, 2 interceptions and an impressive 85.3 rating when in coverage. During the Hawkeyes 27-22 win over Minnesota (11/19/22), Campbell had one of his best games of the season. He led the team with 17 tackles (6 solo tackles) and 11 assists. In the matchup, the linebacker was all over the and was a key contributor in the win.


The middle linebacker finished the season ranked #1 in the nation with 143 tackles (5th best in program history and most for Iowa linebacker since '09). His efforts during his junior season led to him being one of 16 semifinalists for the Butkus Award.


In '22 Campbell became a permanent captain, winning the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. The Hawkeyes linebacker shined in coverage during his senior season, recording 2 interceptions and a 70.6 QB rating when targeted in coverage.


Campbell also impressed as a pass rusher tallying 13 total pressures, which included 9 QB hurries, 4 QB hits, and no sacks on the season.

In addition to winning the Butkus Award, the linebacker was awarded The Campbell Trophy, which recognizes a player as the best in the nation for his combined academic success, performance on the field and sterling leadership.


Other accolades included; the Roy Carver Most Valuable Player award, Hayden Fry Award, Iron Hawk Award and Team Hustle Award.


PROS

  • Extremely cerebral MIKE linebacker, who consistently displays the ability to diagnose plays pre-snap

  • Size & overall length aid him when attacking the line of scrimmage and bringing down ball carriers

  • Displays impressive range in zone coverage

  • Leadership ability is second to none in this class and always displays professionalism

  • Displays the type closing speed and instincts necessary for the next level

CONS

  • Needs to refine his counter moves and hand usage

  • Man coverage is a weakness and can struggle with one-on-one situations

  • Some issues when he drops his hips to redirect and seems a bit labored at times

  • Although displayed the ability to shoot the gap as a pass rusher, over thinks it at times and misses opportiunties (evident with only 3 career sacks)

  • Can be fooled with misdirection when facing the run

Outlook

The Hawkeyes MLB is by no means a finished product, but comes with tremendous upside. In a league transitioning many hybrid DB's to middle linebackers, Campbell is a throwback that won't get caught up in the scrum. In saying that, his upside can't be denied as one of the best middle linebackers in the nation during the '22 season.


Some will point to Campbell's tight lower base and inability to mirror athletic tight ends. Many of this can be fixed with NFL coaching, strength & conditioning, in addition to on field experience on the next level.


A team willing to give the Hawkeye's linebacker the reins to lead their defense, won't be disappointed.


*Games Watched- 9/10/22 vs Iowa St., 10/1 vs Mich, 10/8 vs Illinois, 10/22 vs OSU, 11/12 vs Wisc, 11/19 vs Minn, 11/25 vs Nebraska & 12/31 vs Kentucky


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