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NFL Draft 2023: Data Shows Linebackers, Cornerbacks Getting Longer, Leaner

Bill Speros for Bookies.com

Bill Speros  | 6 mins

NFL Draft 2023: Data Shows Linebackers, Cornerbacks Getting Longer, Leaner

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Linebackers and defensive backs drafted by NFL teams are leaner and longer than they were a decade ago. And the numbers prove it. 

With the 2023 NFL Draft set to begin Thursday night, Bookies.com analyzed the top 15 linebackers and cornerbacks chosen in the 2022 and 2021 NFL drafts and found the players taken at those two spots were notably taller and lighter than their 2012 counterparts. 

The top 15 linebackers chosen in the 2022 NFL draft were on average 74.6 inches tall (6ft 2.6in) and weighed 236.5 pounds, as listed on draft day. That average is 1.2 inches taller but 7.3 pounds lighter than the same baseline group 10 years ago. 

The trend held at the cornerback position. In 2022, the top 15 cornerbacks taken (listed as cornerbacks on draft day) averaged 72.6 inches tall (6ft 0.6in) and 192.2 pounds. In 2012, the top 15 cornerback picks were 71.2 inches tall and weighed 195.26 pounds.


RELATED: Who Will Carolina Panthers Select No. 1 Overall?


NFL Player Sizes By The Numbers

Here is a breakdown of the average stats noted above for the top 15 players taken at non-skill, size-dependent positions in the 2022 and 2012 NFL drafts. Our numbers were taken from each player’s height listed in inches, weight listed in pounds, and position as published when they were chosen on draft day. 

NFL Draft 2023: Data Shows Linebackers, Cornerbacks Getting Longer, Leaner 1

Those figures further bolster the narrative that pro football is evolving toward a pass-first, speed-first game, and one that favors personnel who will help teams reach those goals. The numbers demonstrate what observers, players, coaches, executives, and NFL betting fans have all seen in recent years - an evolution toward more versatility on the defensive side of the ball as teams adopt multiple defensive schemes and lean toward more hybrid positions. 

The weight disparity between linebackers and corners has decreased significantly in the last decade, as well. Again demonstrating a push toward versatility.

In 2022, the spread between the top 15 linebackers and top 15 corners was 44.3 pounds on the upside for linebackers. Ten years earlier, that number was 48.6 pounds, again with the linebackers checking in heavier. That represents a 9.4% decrease in weight differential between the two positions over 10 years.

The data demonstrate that offensive linemen have lightened up in the past 10 years, while their average height has remained stable. An examination of the data available on defensive linemen, including interior linemen and edge rushers, saw little change over the same period. 


RELATED: Who Will Houston Texans Select No. 2 Overall?


The top 15 offensive linemen selected in 2022 averaged 76.6 inches tall (6ft 4.6ins) and 314 pounds. That same group 10 years earlier averaged 77 inches (6ft 5ins) and 317.4 pounds, a decrease in weight of 1.1%.

On the defensive line, the top 15 picks in 2022 averaged 76.4 inches tall (6ft 4.44ins) and 282 pounds. The same group of top 15 players chosen in the 2012 draft were 75.8 inches tall (6ft 3.8ins) and weighed 282.6 pounds.

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What To Expect At NFL Draft 2023?

Round one of the 2023 NFL Draft begins on Thursday. The six mock drafts listed at CBS Sports.com have seven cornerbacks combined listed as potential Round 1 picks, another nod to the growing importance of that position as the NFL evolves toward a version of flag football with tackling. 

The potential first-round picks are: Christian Gonzalez of Oregon, Devon Witherspoon of Illinois, Deonte Banks of Maryland, Joey Porter, Jr. of Penn State, Julius Brents of Kansas State, Cam Smith of South Carolina, and Emmanuel Forbes of Mississippi State.

PLAYER SCHOOL POS. HGT (ins) WGT (lbs)
Christian GonzalezOregonCB74197
Devon WitherspoonIllinoisCB71.5181
Deonte Banks MarylandCB73197
Joey Porter JrPenn StateCB74193
Julius Brents Kansas St. CB75198
Cam Smith South Carolina CB73180
Emmanuel Forbes Mississippi St. CB73166
Average 73.5 187.4

These numbers show the trend toward lighter/leaner and taller corners is expected to continue this year. The height in this sample size averages 73.5 inches (6ft 1.5ins) vs. 72.6 inches (6ft 0.6in) in 2022. The average weight decreased from 192.2 lbs to 187.4 lbs, a drop of nearly 5lbs. When compared to 2012, the average difference is 7.8 pounds less, a drop of 4%.

There are also five edge rushers and three interior defensive lineman listed as potential first-round picks. 

They are Will Anderson, Jr. of Alabama, Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech, Lukas Van Ness of Iowa, Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee of Clemson, Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith of the back-to-back defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs, Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton and Calijah Kancey from Pitt. 

Here’s a look at each player's height and weight: 

PLAYER SCHOOL POS. HGT (ins) WGT (lbs)
Will Anderson, Jr.AlabamaEDGE76243
Tyree WilsonTexas TechEDGE78276
Lukas Van NessIowaEDGE77272
Myles MurphyClemsonEDGE77275
Bryan BreseeClemsonDL77.5298
Nolan SmithGeorgiaEDGE75236
Jalen CarterGeorgiaDL 76 300
Keeanu Benton WisconsinDL 76 309
Calijah Kancey PittDL 72 280
Average 76 276.5

These five are roughly the same height as the average of the top 15 defensive lineman taken last year (76.4 inches) but they weigh 6 pounds less on average. A smaller sample size but another nod to the focus placed on speed over size.

In terms of linebackers, the mock drafts list just two - Drew Sanders of Arkansas, Jack Campbell of Iowa – as potential first-rounders.

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About the Author

Bill Speros for Bookies.com
Bill Speros
Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist and editor whose career includes stops at USA Today Sports Network / Golfweek, Cox Media, ESPN, Orlando Sentinel and Denver Post.