Grantsburg High School
A massive linebacker who is relatively light on his feet, Leo Chenal can be a starter in the NFL if he refines his game in coverage; his size and speed, combined with his instincts against the run, make him a promising prospect.
The University of Wisconsin has long been recognized for its hard-nosed playstyle on both sides of the ball. One player who has heavily contributed to the team’s defensive success since 2020 is Leo Chenal. A well-built linebacker, the 6020 and 261-pound defender moves well for his size. Chenal boasts solid linear speed and closes downhill quickly. He has decent range at the second level. Against blockers, the Badgers’ backer exhibits reasonable play strength if he employs sound technique. When he reduces surface area, he has the power to work through half-man engagement regularly. This allows him to penetrate and shoot gaps as a blitzer. He often uses quickness to beat opponents at the point of contact. Against the run, Chenal displays patience, vision, and awareness to anticipate the play before identifying and following the ball carrier. By scraping while staying cautious, he simultaneously maintains his gap and pursues the play. While still raw in coverage, Chenal has the potential to grow into an all-around linebacker. He reads the quarterback’s eyes well in zone coverage; consequently, he jumps routes if the passer telegraphs. His physicality and movement skills may enable him to cover tight ends and running backs as he develops. Chenal complements clean tackling technique with a strong grip and impressive stopping power to produce a consistent product at the tackle point. The talented linebacker improved his angles from 2020 to 2021.
For all his strengths, Wisconsin’s standout linebacker will experience a learning curve in the NFL. First and foremost, his lateral explosiveness and agility are limited. Similarly, he struggles with sharp changes of direction. Chenal caps his functional strength with poor technique. Against blockers, the Badgers’ star slows down into engagement and surrenders his chest. He plays with inconsistent pad level and often leads with his shoulder into contact. The talented defender has underwhelming length and rarely uses his hands; consequently, he is controlled and sealed. Even running backs and tight ends take advantage of his unreliable anchor. In run defense, Chenal removes himself from the play with aggressive pursuit angles to the sideline. In coverage, the second-level defender exhibits underdeveloped route recognition and spatial awareness. He is completely reactive against the pass and is regularly caught with his eyes in the backfield. Chenal takes poor depth in his zones. At the tackle point, Wisconsin’s massive linebacker overpursues too often and lacks the change of direction to recover. Conversely, he plays the inside leg far too much. Chenal’s tendency to enter the point of contact with high pad level will see him blown up by more powerful competition in the league.
A massive linebacker who is relatively light on his feet, Wisconsin’s standout defender has the tools to become a starting linebacker in the league. While he needs work in coverage, his instincts against the run are NFL-ready. That said, he will need to translate his athleticism, effort, and tackling efficiency to results on special teams to make a roster while he develops. Chenal can start at MIKE in a 3-4 or SAM in a 4-3 thanks to his size and movement skills.
Born in Grantsburg, Wisconsin to parents David and Brenda Chenal, Leo Chenal is one of two siblings that play for the Wisconsin Badgers. His brother, John, is a fullback for the program. At Grantsburg High School, Leo Chenal was a star athlete and student. He was a four-year honor roll student who was named to the National Honor Society. What’s more, he earned All-Lakeland honors in basketball and track. On the gridiron, Chenal was named team captain twice. In his career, he ran for 3,706 yards and 68 touchdowns; he also recorded 1,300 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. On defense, he made 385 tackles, 55 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and three interceptions. Chenal an All-Lakeland Conference honoree all four years of his high school career. As a junior, he was named first-team all-state by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA). As a senior, Chenal established himself as one of the best athletes in the state. He received the John Anderson Award, given to the state of Wisconsin’s top linebacker. He was also named Wisconsin’s small school Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year by WFCA. Further, he was selected to the second-team all-state on both offense and defense by the Associated Press. WFCA made him a first-team all-state selection among small school athletes at running back and linebacker. MaxPreps named Chenal a first-team All-American among small school athletes. The athletic linebacker was the 2018 Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year. After a stellar high school career, Chenal was ranked a three-star recruit by 247Sports Composite Rankings. The same outlet listed him as the 639th-best recruit nationally, the 35th-overall athlete in his class, and the 2nd-ranked player from Wisconsin in his year. 247Sports had him as the 28th-best athlete in his class and the best player from Wisconsin that year. An immediate-impact player at Wisconsin, Chenal played in 11 games during his freshman year. He recorded 20 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. As a sophomore in 2020, he started all seven of the team’s games. He posted 46 tackles, good for second on the team. He also made six tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception. Chenal received 2020 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention from coaches and the media.
Current Player Value/Potential Player Value
6.9 / 8.1
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