Devin Lloyd made his name at the University of Utah as a do-everything leader who lit up the Utes’ linebackers room with his fun-loving and energetic personality.
On Thursday, he’ll be wearing a new logo.
The NFL draft begins in Las Vegas at 6 p.m. on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network — and everyone expects the 6-foot-3, 237-pounder from Chula Vista, Calif., to be taken in the first round. Most mock drafts have Lloyd going before the 20th pick.
His former Utes teammates, however, think Lloyd is deserving of an even higher selection than that.
“He should be top 10. That’s my opinion,” Sophomore linebacker Karene Reid said. “Somebody that can do it all, somebody that’s a student of the game. He should be top 10.”
Lloyd will attend the draft in person in Las Vegas, along with a select number of invited guests. Among the invitees are Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and linebackers coach Colton Swan.
“He’s always been a special part of my life in the last three and a half years, four years that I’ve been there,” Swan said. “I guess by the invite [that] means I’m a special part of his life. It’s an awesome experience for him and myself both. It’s really cool to be there to support him for this part of his life.”
Whittingham said he can still remember a conversation he had with Lloyd in January 2021 where the linebacker mapped out goals for himself after deciding to return for an extra season after the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the 2020 season.
“He checked every box,” Whittingham said. “And to see that come to fruition and to have him be positioned right now where he is in the draft has been a real testament to him and who he is as a person and a competitor.”
In Whittingham’s mind, the best case scenario for Lloyd is landing inside the top 10 overall in the draft. More realistically, though, he envisions his former player ending up somewhere between 10 and 20, and no lower than 21 or 22.
Lloyd was present at Utah Pro Day in March but opted not to participate, citing caution so he didn’t “go out and risk anything.”
“From what I did in season and at the combine, I think that was enough to do what I want to do in the draft,” Lloyd said at the time.
Junior linebacker Andrew Mata’afa, one of Lloyd’s best friends, said he’ll be watching the draft with his family. He spoke about Lloyd’s dedication to the game and how his work ethic pushed Mata’afa to be better.
“He was in the film room more than anybody,” Mata’afa said. “He would frickin’ burn out the light bulb for the projector. This dude wanted to grind and he loved every minute of it.”
Senior defensive tackle Devin Kaufusi said that he’ll probably watch the draft with some of his teammates. He believes Lloyd is “the best backer in the draft class” and left a long-lasting legacy at Utah football.
“He made it a point of emphasis to just come and be the same guy every day,” Kaufusi said. “Just being consistent in that sense. So every day, no matter what the weather is, no matter how you’re feeling and stuff, come in, be the leader, be the guy people look to, to rally to and to give your best. So he’s definitely taught me that and it’s something he’s lived by and that he’s left for the team.”
No matter where Lloyd lands in the draft, Swan believes any team will be lucky to have him, and he thinks what Lloyd showed at Utah will translate to the next level.
“Everything he does is top notch, first class, as hard as he can do it,” Swan said. “So I would think that that’s how he’s going to continue his professional career.”
Where do the mock drafts predict Devin Lloyd being selected?
The Ringer, No. 12 to the Minnesota Vikings:
“With Jordan Hicks and Eric Kendricks both entering their age-30 seasons, the Vikings look to the future at the middle linebacker spot. Lloyd is a super versatile and rangy playmaker who can wear a number of hats in Ed Donatell’s new defense.”
“Linebacker isn’t necessarily an urgent need, even with Kyzir White gone, but boy does Lloyd’s athleticism give yet another boost to Brandon Staley’s reloaded defense, now featuring Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson.”
“New Orleans’ plan to find new future leaders on both sides of the ball in this draft pays off with the selections of Ridder and Lloyd. The former Ute can start at any of the Saints’ three linebacker spots because of his ability to rush the passer, cover tight ends and stick his nose into the run game.”
Sporting News, No. 32 to the Detroit Lions:
“The Lions, after getting Hamilton to upgrade safety in their back seven, can get another dynamic playmaker. Lloyd can line up well in the middle or the strong side and they should be thrilled if Lloyd lasts this long because of the position he plays. Lloyd is a good run defender but his impact calling card comes in the passing game as both a blitzer and cover man.”
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