JOEL LANNING | LB | IOWA STATE
Height: 6013 | Weight: 232 | Arm: 32" | Hand: 9"
Joel Lanning is a fifth-year Senior who is a former QB converted to Inside Linebacker this season by Cyclones Head Coch Matt Campbell. In only one year starting in a new position on the opposite side of the ball, all Lanning did was finish third in the Big 12 with 114 tackles and earning First-Team All-Big 12 and Paul Hornung Award Runner-Up honors. Lanning was an iron man for the Cyclones, tallying 1,001 total snaps (822 on defense, 51 on offense, 128 on special teams) and had a 20-tackle game against the Longhorns where he was all over the field.
A former all-state of Nebraska wrestler, Lanning is a deceptively good athlete with fluid hips and stout upper body. Lanning is a gym rat with pumped up arms and shows good closing speed and explosiveness.
Despite limited repetitions at the LB position, Lanning wins by combining his outstanding football acumen with his good athletic ability and tenacity to produce in volume in the Cyclones defense. In run defense, Lanning exhibits impressive instincts and mental capacity for the position, staying disciplined in his run fits and constantly communicating to his teammates before the snap. Lanning demonstrates good range to reach the boundary with urgency on stretch plays and consistently finish with crisp form tackling. In man coverage, Lanning shows ability to flip his hips and stay in-phase with slot receivers on seam and post routes. In zone coverage, Lanning uses his experience as former QB to his advantage by reading the QB’s eyes and anticipating passing lanes. Lanning is already technically sound in his tackling and does a good job focusing on wrapping up, but seems like he is so worried about making the tackle that he's holding himself back from uncorking on a ball carrier and laying the lumber. Lanning got better as a blitzer as the year progressed, finishing with six sacks.
A team captain since 2016, Lanning is a selfless team-first guy who is undoubtedly the emotional heartbeat of the Cyclones team. Lanning has gotten consistently better every week, and the phrase “the more you can do” is tailor-made for a player of Lanning’s ilk, where he can save a team a roster spot by not carrying a third QB in a pinch, similar to what the Saints did with Taysom Hill this year. Lanning will be a delight to coach at the next level and a terrific addition to a locker room. Lanning compares in body type and style of play to Will Compton and is best suited as a depth LB in any defensive system and potential special teams ace due to his high football IQ, selfless attitude, and ability to adapt to what is asked of him. Although still raw, Lanning played well during the East-West Shrine game and if he is not drafted late on day three, he will certainly be a priority free agent that could spend his first NFL season developing on a practice squad.
Overall Grade: 73
Athletic Ability: 4
Play Strength: 6
Play Speed: 6
Competitive Toughness: 7
Hit Power: 2
Man Coverage: 3
Zone Coverage: 4
Ball Hawking: 2
Block Shedding: 4
Gap Discipline: 4
Player Comparison: Taysom Hill/Will Compton
Projected Round: PFA
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