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MLB in the 2008 Draft: Round 2

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Posted 04-16-2008 at 09:08 AM by hagan714
Updated 06-12-2008 at 07:18 AM by hagan714

3. Erin Henderson, Maryland, 6028, 244, 4.73, ILB/OLB

Linebacker Erin Henderson has great size and speed and one of the top LBs in the nation that should be one of the top linebackers on most draft boards. He is quite instinctive and will always be around the ball and deliver some big time hits. He reads the action quickly, and is athletic and strong enough with his hands to get through blocks on his way to the ball carrier. Can beat the running back to the edge. Has decent range and does a nice job in pursuit. Will thump ball carriers. Great instincts and awareness. Protects his knees and avoids the trash while keeping his head up. Real aggressive and plays with a nasty demeanor. Can hold his own in zone coverage. Sees crossing routes well and is very instinctive. Very good change of direction skills. Chiseled frame with room for additional growth. Has shown the ability to bounce back from major surgery with no loss of speed or aggression. Versatile, Hard worker, Excellent intangibles and Nice bloodlines. Brother, E.J. starting linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings

His injuries are the biggest concern, including a torn ACL suffered a couple years back.Henderson does not have the best cover skills around and would prefer to go after the ball, but he has enough speed and skills to develop his coverage ability if necessary. Plays too tall and is not overly stout at the point. Has trouble taking on and shedding blockers. Relies too much on his athleticism to evade blocks, rather than physically confronting them. Does not have elite speed or athleticism and looks stiff. Lacks fluid hips and has trouble matching up in coverage. Still needs to work some on cover skills. Has to get stronger Henderson only missed one game last year and remained extremely productive despite the injuries. He is a tough player and will not allow any minor injuries to get in his way. He is not as physically gifted as some of the other linebackers, but he is no slouch either. His superior instincts will have many teams who are looking for a linebacker fighting over his services in the second round of the draft.

Torn ACL in his left knee caused him to miss the entire 2005 season. Missed only one game, but was held out of practice (only playing on Saturday) in many more games this season after tearing the meniscus and spraining the ACL in the same knee

2/28 Update: Erin Henderson did what he could to show off his instincts at the Combine, but he put up some decent numbers across the board as well. He did not do anything to drop his status below the second round and everybody has to like his ball hawking ability that can only be seen on game tapes

4. Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma, 6000, 246, 4.67

Curtis began to emerge as a sophomore but really burst onto the scene as a junior in 2007 when he was named an All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Simply put he has a nose for the ball. Football acumen is second to none. Knows where the play is going and makes proper adjustments. Excellent instincts and awareness are his strongest traits. Smart with a high football I.Q. This mental quickness allows him to play faster than he times in the forty. Curtis has a solid frame and a non-stop motor that can step up and fill against the run. Big hitter and reliable tackler. Does a terrific job in pursuit and has a burst to close. Able to rush the passer, Sifts through defenders well and racks sacks. Does a decent job in zone coverage. Hard worker and team leader with top-notch intangibles. Has been very productive at OU. Goes 100%. Could play in either a 43 or a 34 defensive scheme.

Lofton isn't all that big height-wise and he's not a burner. He has marginal timed speed and is not a great athlete. Stiff and does not have fluid hips and will struggles matching up in man coverage. Just an average blitzer with a limited pass rush repertoire. Limited college starting experience (19 games). Not a lot of versatility, will only play ILB in the pros

He might not have all the physical tools you look for but is just a football player but a) he's very strong and b) his numbers say it all - he gets the job done, time and again. 157 tackles in 2007.

Update (2/28/08): At the combine Lofton ran a 4.77 in the 40, which wasn't particularly impressive; but on the other hand, he had 23 reps in the bench press.

Smart decision to leave early.

6 Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech, 6018, 232, 4.69 (ILB/OLB/S)

Few players can match the productivity of Xavier Adibi. He used his speed to get to the quarterback and earned three sacks and seven quarterback hurries as a senior and he proved to be an effective player in coverage as well, intercepting seven passes during his Hokie career. Instinctive player who finds a way to the ball, as he can get to the line with suddenness, taking on the inside run with his shoulder downhill. Runs to the ball well and plays with good effort. Plays until the whistle and shows toughness taking on bigger blockers. He has the body control to fit in space and the quickness and speed to squeeze the edge on blitzes. Has the speed to chase and close on the move. Excellent sideline-to-sideline range. Really fluid and looks like a natural in coverage. Plays with good football intelligence and awareness. A playmaker a tight midsection, very long arms, with a good reach and natural hands to extend and catch the ball outside his framewith. Adibi has no problems mirroring the run or pass, very instinctive . Has a feel for his area in pass coverage, with the range to cover the field, as he shows alertness in zone coverage, reacting quickly to throws. Focuses on the quarterback's eyes during his pass drop, using his quickness to get proper depth. He is very athletic, on fire, and one not to show lag at any point in the game. Solid on the punt unit and uses his speed to be a solid contributor on the coverage squads. Very confident. Leads by example and can handle hard coaching.

Extremely undersized and really needs to add weight. Lacks the strength to play in the middle or on the strong side, but will combat at the point of attack. Is much better reading hats and tracking the ball when aligned outside than when working through trash inside. Struggles to shed when blitzing inside. Can get covered up by the bigger blockers when playing inside. Does not have the hand strength needed to reroute tight ends and backs in the passing game. Has to work on his tackle technique, as he does not always attack the outside leg of the ballcarrier and spends more time grabbing at the runner rather than driving through with his hits. Has good field vision, but is a bit slow reading and reacting to the play and must be quicker in his diagnostic skills. Gets a bit reckless in his pursuit and, while he has good foot speed, he takes false steps and needs to throttle down a bit to redirect when he outruns the play. Durability's a concern

The problem for Adibi heading into the NFL is his size and he will have to be a weakside linebacker, but with his speed and agility, combined with the fact he is very aware of what is going on in front of him, makes him a solid pick for a weakside linebacker position. He does have the loose hips to get depth in pass drops, and could make the move to strong safety. With a mid-to-late second round pick, some team will find themselves with a quality weakside linebacker who will work hard and contribute on special teams. Sat out 6 games with a torn tendon in his right biceps muscle.

2/28 Update: For a player who depends mostly on speed, Adibi's 40 time at the Combine was a little disappointing. He was by no means slow, but he was not the flat-out burner many were expecting. However, Adibi did show off his great instincts and solid coverage ability in the position drills.
Posted in 2008 NFL Draft
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