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OLB in the 2007 NFL Draft

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Most 3-4 scheme teams are looking for a "hybrid" guy that has the pass rush skills of a defensive end, but can also drop back in coverage. The better the athlete, the more versatile they can be for this position. ...

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Old 04-21-2007, 03:28 PM   #1
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OLB in the 2007 NFL Draft

Most 3-4 scheme teams are looking for a "hybrid" guy that has the pass rush skills of a defensive end, but can also drop back in coverage. The better the athlete, the more versatile they can be for this position.
Granted, the strong-side linebacker must still face off with the tight end, maintain his ground and hold contain to his side. He must also be more athletic than in past years, since he could be asked to drop back in coverage or blitz in certain scenarios. The weak-side linebacker in today's game is more of a strong safety type in terms of size and speed as he must be quick enough to play in space and strong enough to make tackles in the open field. This is a playmaker position for most 4-3 based teams.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

1. Paul Posluszny - 6015, 238, 4.65, Penn State (ILB/OLB)

Late in his junior year, he was deemed a potential Top-10 pick in the draft. However, the partial ligament tears in his right knee, suffered in the Orange Bowl against Florida State last year, forced him to return for his senior season. He got off to a slow start, but seemed to play with a lot more confidence once he removed the bulky brace. Posluszny plays with the type of dedication, emotion and will power that will never let him slow down. He has a rare combination of instinct, athleticism and toughness. He is firm at the point of attack, not afraid to fight through the trash, stout enough to take on and shed a lead blocker to get to a runner. What he lacks in pure, straight-line speed he makes up for with a high football IQ and willingness to sell out to make the play. Excels at reading and reacting to the action. Mobile enough with sideline-to-sideline range and is a reliable tackle with a burst to close. Decent pass rusher and blitzer. Posluszny fluid enough to be effective in pass coverage. Has a motor that never stops and a phenomenal work ethic. A playmaker.

Paul can get caught up in trash because he lacks the lateral movement skills to avoid lead blockers at times. Will play out of control at times. He can be a bit stiff when dropping back into coverage.

Was given the label of "best linebacker ever to play at Penn State,” by none other than Jack Ham. Posluszny's toughness was reflected by his request for a shot to numb the pain, so he could return to the field after tearing knee ligaments in the Orange Bowl during his junior season. He might move inside at the next level. Former winner of both the Butkus (nation's top linebacker in 2005) and Bednarik (nation’s top defensive player in 2005 & 2006) awards.
If he goes towards the bottom of the first round, it means a playoff-caliber team will be adding a player with great intangibles.

Tore the PCL and MCL in his right knee in the Orange Bowl as a junior and did not look completely recovered at times in 2006

2. *Lawrence Timmons OLB 6007, 234, 4.59, Florida St.

Timmons is a talented linebacker who played on the strongside for the Seminoles, but will likely have to move to the weakside in the NFL because of his size. He is still a raw talent with the instincts, speed and tenacity to get involved in almost every play despite his lack of great technique. Timmons has cat-like quickness that will make him immediately dangerous in the NFL as a pass rusher off the edge. His athleticism and straight-line speed allows him to cover a lot of ground and makes big plays from sideline-to-sideline. Timmons strikes hard at the point of attack, is a good but not great form tackler. He is well-built and can disengage thanks to his footwork, balance and long arms. Timmons possesses the necessary skills to become a game-changing pass rusher if taught proper technique and allowed to utilize his straight-line speed. Has fluid hips and is excellent in coverage. His long arms allow him to get out in space and provide ample coverage when pitted against running backs and tight ends. Timmons has the frame to get add weight. A physical and aggressive playmaker who is always around the ball.

Has only one year of starting experience. Raw and needs work from a technique standpoint and stop getting by on his athleticism alone. Needs to continue bulking up and getting stronger. He has some trouble shedding blocks and doesn't use his hands all that well. May lack ideal instincts and awareness due to inexperience.

Versatile and could play in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. Still has a ton of potential and there is really no telling just how good he may ultimately be.

3. *Jon Beason - 6002, 237, 4.72, Miami (OLB/ILB)

This fiery team leader overcame nagging injuries to lead the Hurricanes with 76 tackles in 2006. An all-out hustler, Beason used an ideal combination of speed, smarts and natural instincts to become one of the best defensive playmakers in the ACC. A firm tackler at the point of attack, Beason is able to diagnose the play quickly and weave his way through blockers to penetrate the line of scrimmage.

He can be engulfed by the pile at times because he lacks great bulk to sustain his ground when faced with some lead blockers. He can also be a little too aggressive at times, leaving backs or tight ends open. He can carry between 230 and 235 pounds without losing a step and brings great character and intangibles to the field. Not only can he have an impact on a defense with his level of play, but he'll make others play harder if not better.

Beason will be seen by some teams as a premier prospect for their defensive alignment, while others believe he lacks the pure size to be taken before the latter part of the first round. He may project as an inside linebacker for a team that uses its defensive linemen to keep its linebackers clean to make plays sideline-to-sideline, thus taking advantage of Beason's athleticism and minimizing problems related to his lack of height.

4. Tim Shaw, 6-2, 236, 4.51, Penn State

Shaw has always had a reputation as a blue-collar worker who somehow finds a way to get the job done, especially when he is needed most. Of his 121 career tackles against the run, 47 stopped opponents on third down, with nine more coming on fourth down; that's stepping up. He unselfishly moved from his outside linebacker position to defensive end as a senior. Overshadowed by Paul Posluszny throughout his career, he showed at outside linebacker a year ago, he will hit, can play physical and shows good speed in backside pursuit. Jr year played MLB. With added value brought to special teams Shaw has played running back, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and defensive end, as well as various roles on special teams. A good athlete with above average timed speed. Has good instincts and is a solid tackler. Strong, physical and aggressive. Very good pass rusher and blitzer. Fantastic motor. Smart and a leader with extraordinary intangibles.

Size and bulk are only average. Not quite as athletic as his workout numbers would lead you to believe and will have trouble shedding massive blockers. Is just barely adequate in coverage. Needs time to settle in on a position. May be a 'tweener who doesn't have a true pro position.

Could project to a number of positions at the next level in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme...Underrated prospect that is tough to evaluate, especially based on his senior film so he could wind up being a bargain.

Shaw was more impressive at the Combine than his former teammate, running a 4.51, jumping 36 1/2 inches and lifting the 225-pound bar 26 times -- all among the top results for the position.

5. Stewart Bradley - OLB, 6036, 254, 4.80, Nebraska

A full-sized (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) linebacker compared to the others ranked among the Top 5 here, Bradley has very good upper-body strength and improved footwork in the agility drills.Stewart will provide a physical run-stopping presence at the SAM linebacker spot, while possessing the athleticism to play the perimeter and cover opposing receivers. He can be used more at the next level as a blitzer and probably have good success. He has good intangibles and should stand out on special teams early. He was one of the true surprise players in Mobile, this former Cornhusker has excellent size, speed and athletic ability. He doesn't have an overwhelming presence on game film, but by game's end, he will have his fair share of tackles.

Bradley has a tendency to get high off the snap, exposing himself as a pass rusher. He's a little stiff in his back pedal, but generally can cover ground and play with good natural instincts. He works hard to keep himself alive and in the play. Bradley missed the final seven games of the 2005 season after he suffered a knee injury against Texas Tech in game five, so injuries are a concern.

A team could turn its attention to Bradley – the next best strong-side linebacker on the board – if it's unable to get into the range to select Lawrence Timmons. There could also be several 3-4 based teams that view him as a solid prospect for a position inside thanks to his size and smarts.
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:30 PM   #2
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5. Rufus Alexander - 6007, 228, 4.69, Oklahoma

Rufus Alexander is a productive, athletic linebacker out of Christian Life HS (Baton Rouge, LA). Rufas has lean upper-body muscle development with long arms, tight waist and hip and room to carry at least another 10 pounds of bulk without it impacting his overall quickness. He is a rangy linebacker who can cover ground from sideline to sideline with enough raw speed to get him in on almost every play. He has a good feel for plays in front of him and works hard to avoid and slip through single blocks to create havoc in the backfield. Quick-twitch type with a sudden burst. Uses his hands effectively to mirror and reroute tight ends and backs in the short-area passing game. He has the speed and agility to play man coverage on possession receivers and faster tight ends. Has good recovery speed when the receivers gets behind him, but is best handling slot receivers rather than playing in the deep secondary. Adequate at anticipating the receiver's moves and does a good job of reaching around to deflect some throws. Has very good timing and leaping ability. Shows good open-field acceleration and ease of movement in transition. He is an excellent tackler who hits with force and wraps up. Has the body control to break down in space. His open field tackling is also excellent. He reads the play well and navigates well in traffic to locate the ball. Comes out of his stance and attacks the ball carriers with decent pop on contact.

Lacks the bulk or raw power to split double teams or bull rush when working in-line. Lacks great ball anticipation skills and is slow to locate the ball at times when working through trash and gets frustrated when his rush moves fail. He doesn't have a physical style to his game. He doesn't display either the technique or the will to shed blocks. More of a drag-down type of tackler, as he fails to generate that good weight room strength when striking in closed quarters. Move-oriented type of tackler who is better making plays in space than when stationed at the line of scrimmage. He isn't as good a pass rusher as his timed speeds would suggest. Doesn't have natural hands for the interception and several easy pass thefts resulted in pass break-ups instead, as he doesn't extend well to catch outside his frame.
He has enough production and athleticism to overcome his lack of ideal size.
He also had a 4.32 short shuttle and 26 strength lifts.

6. Justin Durant - 6007, 230, 4.48, Hampton (OLB/ILB)

Durant is an athlete with marquee speed who was named the MEAC's Defensive Player of the Year three consecutive times. He's smart, has rock solid technique and really has a knack for putting himself in position to make plays. He looks fluid in all of his movements, rarely takes false steps, locates the ball quickly and plays with good balance. Quick. Diagnose a play quickly and make plays all over the field. Smooth and explosive fills gaps and makes a lot of plays on the field. Breaks down well. Moves well laterally, backpedals well into coverage and scrapes well in the box. A very athletic linebacker who is able to attack the line of scrimmage, explodes upfield filling gaps in run defense, takes good angles to the action and can deliver a pop. Has a fiery demeanor. Is fluid in space and solid in coverage. Drops comfortably into coverage as a pass defender. Figures to be a steady open-field tackler. Has been productive, is versatile and a hard worker with leadership qualities and top intangibles. Should contribute immediately on special teams.

Does not have great size and is especially lacking in the height department and is not as strong as you'd prefer. He can get overpowered at the point of attack if a lead blocker is allowed to seek him out without being touched. Isn't stout at the point and can be manhandled and struggles to disengage from blocks. Average pass rusher. Needs to do a better job with his technique when it comes to tackling. Level of competition is an issue.

Durant could be an ideal inside linebacker prospect for a Cover 2 scheme or Durant might start off on special teams while he gets a little more muscle on, and eventually end up at WLB.
Easily one of the premier sleeper prospects available in this draft.

7. Earl Everett - 6025, 238. 4.73, Florida

His explosive quickness consistently garners attention. Everett is a smooth, quick, agile runner who excels in the difficult task of man coverage. Possessing true sideline-to-sideline range because of his speed, Everett is rarely out of a play. He also has very good coverage ability and can run with many wideouts. He also can avoid blockers with his speed and is an effective edge pass-rusher. (Plays faster than he times?) Everett is a team leader and has remained relatively injury free despite his playing time.

Everett has been able to get by with his athleticism as a collegiate player, but often runs himself out of position by overpursuing or biting on misdirection. He doesn't possess the football instincts one would hope for from a 4-year starter at a major program. Throughout his time with the Gators, Everett was characterized as an ultra-athletic linebacker whose speed and agility made up for a lack of top instincts or physicality for the position. Everett was viewed as so effective in coverage that some teams were considering him as a potential safety.

Many scouts feel Everett, a former prep quarterback, has some of the best athletic ability of any linebacker in the draft, but he wasn't able to show it at the combine workouts. He pulled a hamstring on his first 40-yard run and was clocked at only 4.88 seconds. He added only 19 repetitions during the 225-pound bench press. Both marks were the worst among top-rated linebackers.

After his time dropped only to the mid 4.7s on a fast Florida track and a very disappointing three-cone drill time (7.39), scouts are questioning if the speed surrounding Everett in Gainesville made him appear more athletic than he really is. Considered a likely second-round pick at the end of the season, Everett's stock is now plummeting. He may find himself still available on the draft's second day.

Everett has the size, athleticism, and production that will excite teams needing help at the WLB position.
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:33 PM   #3
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8. Quincy Black - 6015, 240, 4.42, New Mexico(OLB/MLB)

Attended Harper College near Chicago (IL) before coming to the Lobos and has all the physical tools you look for. His athleticism and having very good instincts seems to always put him around the ball when a big play is created. Black has the ability to play both inside or outside at the next level due to his speed that allows him the ability to cover alot of ground, vertically and horizontally, against the pass and quickly get to the ball carrier against the run. Black is a versatile defender that has good a burst to close in pursuit and he is a great blitzer . His open-field tackling skills are phenomenal, his target rarely slips by him; supposedly he only has five missed tackles this season. Against the pass he is fluid and does a tremendous job in coverage. He is very good at locating the ball. Great motor. Smart with solid intangibles...

He is relatively new to his LOBO position so he still lacks elite instincts and does not have a defined position yet. Despite being a JUCO defensive end he needs to work on his pass rushing technique and moves. He's a good two-way defender that needs to translate some of his weight-room strength onto the field, so he needs to do a better job versus the run. Especially at the point of attack as he can get turned around or pushed to the side if hit by an unblocked fullback or tight end. He needs to make better use of his hands to get off blocks or when trying to maintain his balance. Footwork and technique are sub par. Does not play as fast as he ran in workouts.

Quincy is a very intriguing developmental guy, has size and athleticism that rivals former Michigan State linebacker Julian Peterson, unfortunately he lacks the Julian's pass-rushing talent. His athleticism makes him a playmaker granting him the ability to cover tons of ground, vertically and horizontally, against the pass and quickly get to the ball carrier against the run. With his superior tackling skills and speed I think it would be best if he made the complete transition to strong safety. Cover 2 scheme middle linebacker thanks to his speed and cover skills. A bit of an underachiever? Still has upside.

Has all the physical tools you look for and he was a true workout warrior at the Scouting Combine...Has a 40+-inch vertical leap...A very intriguing developmental guy who may get pushed up draft boards in such a weak year for the linebacker position.

9. Antwan Barnes 6005, 240, 4.45, Florida International (DE/OLB)

From a numbers perspective, probably the most dominant prospect was LB Antwan Barnes from Florida International University. Fairly productive 4-year starter, who really mad his mark as a sack artist. He has proven to be a capable run stuffer, a cat-quick pass rusher and an intense collision-type hitter who finished his career as only the sixth player in school history to amass more that 200 tackles (224). Naturally well-built athlete that excels in back-side pursuit, as he has the speed to turn the corner. Shows good foot technique accelerating to the ball. Plays with good balance working down the line and has the range to chase from the backside with a sudden burst. Gets through traffic quickly and shows good lateral agility, as he is a disruptive penetrator. Good at positioning his body and keeps his hands active to try and keep blockers off his frame. Takes good angles in pursuit and is very effective taking angles or slanting to slip past the lethargic blocker in attempts to pressure the pocket. Efficient using his hands to get a strong push off blockers in pass rushing situations. He has enough strength to push the pocket and movement skills to jam and reroute tight ends and backs working in the short area.

Needs to add bulk to his frame. More comfortable tackling in space, as he tends to get too high in his stance and narrow his base to effectively wrap and secure working in-line. Not the smash-mouth type tackler you'd expect, relying more on angle technique in order to flush out the quarterback (lacks efficient wrap-up technique). Tends to stay on the ground when leveled, rather than getting up quickly to bounce back into the play. Not the most instinctive player, as he is sometimes slow to read the play and can be fooled by play-action (needs to use his lateral range better, as he sometimes runs right into the blocker rather that attempt to avoid). A bit staight-linish. Has not been asked to cover receivers, and that could be his Achilles Heal

Speaking of top results at the outside linebacker position, Barnes raised quite a few eyebrows with his dominating performance at the Combine. After weighing in at 6-1, 240 pounds, Barnes ran a 4.43 (second fastest among linebackers), had a 10'2" broad jump (third best) and led all linebackers with 31 reps of 225 pounds.

Barnes, who played outside linebacker as a sophomore before moving to defensive end the past two seasons. He projects to a WILL at the next level. The amazing Barnes has defensive tackle strength and cornerback speed.

10. Rory Johnson - 6001, 232, 4.54, Mississippi

Rory is the super stud JC transfer from Hinds (Raymond, MS) Community College. Johnson was overlooked in his first year at Mississippi after a solid JuCo career, but don't let the lack of hype full you, he had a heck of a season finishing with 94 tackles, which was good enough for fifth in the SEC. Super fast linebacker who finds the ball carrier, sheds blocks well and hits hard while wraping up. Instinctive. Quickly fills the cutback rush lanes, running with a good pad level as he moves down the line in pursuit.
Has the speed and hitting power to go sideline to sideline with the technique to stay clean, run to the ball and finish. Excellent lateral pursuit. Can chase backs and receivers down from behind. Has a real knack for stripping the ball loose. Flattens and catches from behind, making most of his plays in the open field. Very fluid in pass coverage. Good natural pass coverage awareness. Can stop and redirect in an instant, showing the lateral range and burst to close or pressure the pocket. Has a lean, yet well-muscled frame with the bone structure that can carry an additional 10 pounds with no loss of quickness

Still has a lot to learn, and may need some time adjusting to complex pro schemes. Has not seen enough or done enough to be considered a proven commodity. Little undersized, and this poses problems at times as bigger blockers generally cover him up. Needs to take better angles in pursuit, as he has explosive speed to close, but takes too wide of a loop to the pocket, perhaps trying to avoid blocks rather than slip through them. Susceptible to pump fakes and misdirection, lacking good ball anticipation skills. Sometimes makes false reads and takes false steps. Lacks a feel for zone coverage, looking hesitant picking up his assignment when receivers switch off

Showed in just one year of part-time play (with his role even more prevalent after LB Gary Pack was dismissed from the team) that he is the real deal, and actually outplayed more-heralded teammate Patrick Willis during the second half of the year. Johnson can line up at outside positions in a 4-3 scheme, where he is capable of becoming a solid starter in time with development. Upside is outstanding. Will turn 21 just a month before the draft. Had he come back for his senior year, he would've grown into a star
Rumored to have run as low as a 4.28 in junior college.

11. Juwan Simpson OLB Alabama 6-3 225 4.55

A fluid athlete who runs well, pursues sideline to sideline and drops in coverage. He combines fine speed with adequate size and reads and reacts well to plays and blocking schemes. He has good speed and movement skills, wastes little motion and has the burst of speed to finish plays. He has an innate coverage ability which allows him to make plays on the ball and matchup with tight ends and running backs. He has a good firswt step off the edge as a pass rusher.

Although he has definite growth potential he needs to bulk up to handle big tight ends if he played on the strong side. He has performed at a high level since his freshman season, but must prove he’s matured after some off-field issues. His overall draft status has been hurt by repeated off-field problems, but he did avoid any situations last year. He needs to improve his ability to jam tight ends at the line. He often fails to contain them at the line of scrimmage and he struggles when bigger blockers get hands on him. He needs to be protected and covered up to run to the ball.

At the Senior Bowl he gave good effort and impressed with speed and change of direction skills, but was bounced around at the point of attack and appears limited to a weakside role in a 4-3 set. He could be a special teams terror and could develop into a high-level weakside linebacker. He looked like a top 50 prospect before character issues became a concern.
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:35 PM   #4
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12. Stephen Nicholas - 6012, 232, 4.64, South Florida

Though one of the more overlooked prospects in this class, Nicholas has the athleticism, instincts and intangibles to become an NFL starter. At 6-foot-2, 235-pounds he has adequate size for the outside, functional strength and the overall skills to play the run and pass. He’s quick to diagnose plays and can slip blocks well with fast reactions and reads that allow him to make tackles. He’s especially tough as a pass rusher with a burst off the edge to beat tackles. He’s a strong hitter with the powe to cause turnovers and the quickness to avoid blockers and he matches up well with running backs in pass coverage.

He must improve his power, hand usage, footwork and timing to be effective off the edge at the pro level. He lacks the size to play in a 3-4 scheme and is best suited to play the weakside in a 4-3 scheme. He struggles when a big body is over him and can be stiff in his movement. He needs to be better at the point of attack on plays that are run directly at him. At times bigger blockers will engulf him and that’s an area that needs to be addressed before he’s ready to be a starter.

He did not run the 40 at the combine, but participated in skills and agility skills and bench pressed 29 reps. His best opportunity would be on the outside in a scheme like the Bears, Colts and Bucs play where he is allowed to run to the ball protected from blockers. He should compete for the nickel linebacker role early in his career. He’s a marginal top 120 prospect who likely will not be selected on the first day. He’s a solid second day selection with an NFL starting grade after some development.

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/players/92741

13. Nate Harris - 6003, 230, 4.46, Louisville

Harris is a motor guy and will not hesitate to face up to the larger blockers when working at the line. Keeps his feet and shows good balance in long pursuit and has developed a good feel for taking the short path to the quarterback, as he has a good feel for slanting and angling. When he locates the ball, he is quick to close, doing a nice job of reading hats and scraping to the ball and shows good power behind his hits, delivering good pop on contact. He has a good flow to the ball, especially in backside pursuit and that is his strong at the point of attack, but is a better tackler on the outside (plays better taking on single blocks than vs. double teams). Has the speed to close and make plays in front of him and shows the nimble feet to step over trash. Shows good timing and a feel for the crease on the blitz and can close on the move and has that second gear to cover ground quickly, even when taking a wide loop off the edge to pressure the pocket. Adequate short-area pass defender, but must be more active with his hands in attempts to reroute

Lacks the ideal bulk to stack and control action in the middle of the line. Adequate in-the-box player, but is best when on the move, as he has the ability to slip through and avoid blocks in pursuit. Does a very good job of accelerating through the holes at the line of scrimmage, but needs to get into a clear lane to be effective (gets bounced around trying to play through blocks). Has the natural strength needed, but needs to play off blocks rather than taking them on because he doesn't use his hands well to shed blockers. Chases hard on the perimeter, but will get a bit reckless in his pursuit and out-run the play at time. Downhill player who might be a little slow to read plays at times and lacks hip fluidness. With his quickness and lack of field instincts, he might be a better fit at weak-side linebacker than in the middle, allowing him to flow freely to the ball rather than deal with the mental aspect of making defensive calls. Not the type to stack and control, but does have the upper body strength to collide and drag down ball carriers.
Does not have the natural instincts to flow to the ball and while he is quick to react once he locates it, he will be slow at times to see the play develope and needs more than several reps to retain plays. Does not break down plays well and will get fooled by pump fakes and misdirection.

One scouting site said he has character issues off the field, can't stay healthy and doesn't retain system knowledge. Other than that, what's not to like?


14. Dallas Sartz - 6048, 237, 4.57, Southern Cal

A tall, rangy outside prospect he’s an intense defender with good growth potential. Sartz has shown playmaking ability at times and displays fine instincts and mobility. He reads plays quickly, stays on his feet consistently and has the ability to shed blockers. He’s developed pass coverage skills and is able to match up with tight ends and running backs. He’s intelligent and versatile, having played both outside positions after starting his collegiate career as a safety. He sifts through trash well and has good range to finish plays. He’s a technically sound blocker and is usually in the proper position to make plays. In pass coverage, he reacts well to the ball and has the reach and hands to be effective in coverage. He’s a tough kid with good awareness and instincts to anticipate plays and beat blockers to the ball.

In run support, he is not that strong when taking on blocks at the point of attack and needs to get stronger to play on the strongside. He also needs to be more adept at jamming and re-routign the tight end at the line of scrimmage. His strength needs to be improved and he needs to become a more reliable wrap-up tackler. He’s not a very physical player and needs to display a more physical demeanor to play the strongside as a pro. He needs to get off blocks quicker.

Sartz ran a 4.72 40-yard dash at the combine with 20 bench press reps, and looked good in agility and positional drills. He’s a top 150 prospect and a solid early second day selection. He could develop into a starter if he proves durable and physical enough for the NFL. He could be an early contributor in the nickel package.


15. Prescott Burgess - 6033, 240, 4.77, Michigan

The four-year letter winner found a home at weak-side outside linebacker, starting at that position his last two years. A versatile athlete, Burgess also has experience at inside linebacker and was known for his contributions on special teams throughout his career. Plays with a high motor and at his best when making plays on the move or coming uncontested off the edge. When he locates the ball, he adjusts to the play quickly and uses his speed well in outside run support. Has the speed to reach ball carriers at the opposite end of the field and the acceleration to neutralize the cutback lanes. A good wrap-up tackler making plays on the perimeter. Has the agility and flexibility, along with good backpedal skills, to play the deep zone in a Cover 2 scheme (possibly at strong safety)Keeps containment on tight ends and backs working over the middle, and even though he lines up mostly on the weak side, he can reroute or disengage from the short-area receivers, doing a nice job of reaching around to deflect or pick off the pass. Exceptional range. Seems to cover the whole field on any given play. Great against the pass and is able to intercept any pass. Has natural hands for the interception and is a dangerous runner following interceptions. Stops the run, stops the pass. Incredibly instinctive. All around solid player who could improve a little on everything.

Plays mostly on athletic ability; he struggles to retain plays or grasp the playbook. Not the best at reading an offense you will find, but is quick to get into position and make plays once he sees the action develop. Lacks the bulk to stack and control blockers when asked to lend in-line run support, avoids blockers too much to be effective inside. Has good timed speed, but lacks suddenness to generate explosion closing on the ball. He can be prone to getting quite reckless in his closing burst. Has poor stop-and-go action, as when he outruns the play, he is slow to recover. Needs to show better hand usage when trying to shed blocks; he has had some tough times disengaging when his initial move fails to work. He lacks playing strength to get a good blitz coming through traffic.

The perception among scouts was that Burgess could emerge as one of the nation's top outside linebackers last season. A former safety, Burgess was expected to run well, and his development as a front seven defender led to speculation that he had also grown quite strong. Instead, Burgess looked slow and weak alongside his outside linebacker counterparts in Indianapolis, running the 40 in 4.82 (second slowest at the position) and lifting the bar only 19 times (third fewest).
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:39 PM   #5
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16. Tony Taylor - 6005, 240, 4.88, Georgia

Tony Taylor, a captain of the Georgia defense, was probably the team's most consistent player in 2006. He led the team in tackles and showed an ability to create turnovers, something every NFL team covets. Taylor is a consistent force against the run, racking up impressive tackle numbers each season. He plays a lot faster than his reported 40 time as he covers the entire field and is surprisingly good in coverage for a man with his reported size and speed. He has good mobility and drops into coverage easily whether in man or zone. He heads the passer and receiver well and has good anticipation skills to break on the ball and make big plays. Does an excellent job in coverage and is very smooth. His real bread and butter, though, is run defense. He's a physical player with outstanding read and react skills. He reacts well and fights through blockers and shows a closing burst of speed. He uses his hands well in run support to sheds blocks and locate the ball in traffic and is a sure tackler. Solid blitzer and makes his fair share of plays in the backfield. Is versatile with starting experience at both inside and outside linebacker. Taylor is a leader on the field and the other players respond to him.

Timed speed is only average and he is not quite as athletic as he used to be. Taylor missed the entire 2004 season with injury and his overall play in 2005 seemed to suffer a bit because of it. Does not have great size and could stand to bulk up a bit. He can struggle to get off big blockers and gets engulfed too frequently to play the strong side. Taylor isn't the quickest or most athletic of players and will need to show that he has the speed necessary at the next level. Might another injury even further diminish his skills?

Taylor is still flying below the radar. He has fine route recognition which will probably allow him to play a nickel linebacker role at some point. Will probably project to the weakside in the pros where he can do what he does best which is run around and make plays. Could be a steal if he is totally recovered from the injury and can stay healthy because he was at his best in '06.

17. KaMichael Hall - 6000, 228, 4.66, Georgia Tech.

Honorable mention All-ACC linebacker that can play either ILB or OLB. Plays with heart and plays faster than he times with a burst to get to the ball. Aggressive and physical. Decent tackler. Fast with good open field ability. Does a nice job in coverage and has good ball skills. Good pass rusher and blitzer. Active with a great motor.Productive, experienced and versatile. 3-year starter.

Size could be a factor. Needs to get stronger and more physical. Athletic enough to get where he has to be but doesn't bring a lot of punch with him. Can get manhandled by blockers. Struggles to shed blockers. Has relatively marginal instincts. Might only be a situational type. Does not have all the measurables you look for but gets the job done on the field. He most likely profiles as more of a backup and special teamer at the next level but could be more in the right scheme. He's an ideal fit as a WILL for a Cover 2 team.

short shuttle in 4.49 and the three-cone drill in 7.11. He also had a 33½-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-2 broad jump and 14 bench presses.

18. Justin Hickman - 6013, 254, 4.75, UCLA (DE/LB)

Hickman transferred from Glendale community college to UCLA prior to the 2004 season. He came on and immediately started for the Bruins. Justin exploded in his senior year, doubling nearly all his stats. Justin is a very fast defenisve rusher. He is a DE/LB hybrid at the next level. A very quick first step and great outside footwork allows for a short and quick radius on the quarterback. Had a huge game against USC, a game in which UCLA beat the #2 Trojans for the first time in 6 years. His 19 TFL were tops on the team and was tied with Bruce Davis for most sacks(12.5). Extremely durable, never missing a start for the Bruins in his career.

Questionable versus the run, and not all that great in coverage. Too small to play DE in the NFL full time. Needs to bulk up once he gets in to the NFL.

Hickman had solid postseason workouts to go along with a huge senior season. He put himself on the draft radar but it still seen as a second day prospect. He's worth a shot on day 2 because of his speed and his ability to get to the passer.

19. Cameron Siskowic - 6016, 228, 4.63, Illinios St.(OLB/ILB)

Buck Buchanan finalist in 2005 who was named Gateway defensive player of the year in 2006. He displays keen instincts and recognition skills and has the toughness to fight through blockers and make plays. He’s excelled as a playmaker with very quick read and react skills plus excellent hand use that keeps blockers off his body. Very quick adjusting on the fly. Changes direction on a dime. Finds the ball carrier and fights through traffic to bring him down. As a pass rusher he has a good first step with fast acceleration. He has very good mobility and can cover in man or zone situations with fine drops and reads in coverage. He can neutralize a tight end consistently. Will be able to learn pro-style pass defense because of his flexibility and work ethic. Very flexible. Great motor. Fierce competitor. Very good speed.

Has not played against the best, and therefor will be considered somewhat of an unproven commodity. Does not have the frame to add much weight without worrying about losing some of the qualities that make him special now. He shows only margin strength to stack and shed, gets tied up by blockers and can be taken out of the play at the point of attack. He lacks the bulk to hold a spot against a tackle or a double team. He needs to improve hand techniques and learn to dip his shoulder better to gain the advantage off the edge when rushing the passer. He must develop extra moves and more power to be effective in the NFL. A bit overly confident.(?)

Undersized and may be utilized in a 4-3 as a WILL, or inside in a 3-4. He could be a surprise stsarter and a top special teams performer. Will surprise in a camp if utilized correctly.
Vertical - 34.5, Broad Jump - 9-6.5, Shuttle - 4.51, Three-Cone - 7.08, Bench Press - 20

20. Will Herring - 6030, 225, 4.70, Auburn

Will Herring was a very effective strong safety for the Tigers in 2005, but will move to WLB in 2006 because of the inexperience and lack of depth in the LB corps. He was a playmaker in the secondary in the past and led the team in tackles as a LB as a senior. Herring has very good athleticism for a WLB. His experience (and success) as a DB really show when he's asked to drop back into man or zone coverages. Herring is a very durable player, having started a school-record 49 consecutive games. Herring is also a very bright, coachable, and quality person. He's very instinctual and reads and reacts with the best of them.

Herring looks like a DB trying to play LB at times. He just doesn't have the strength to take on the tight ends, fullbacks, and offensive linemen that look to eliminate him from the play. If Herring is unable to avoid the block, he's probably not getting away from the blocker. He'll either need to add a lot of muscle mass to stay at WLB, or may need to consider a move back to safety. Herring is a hard-worker who plays a smart game and is a real leader on and off the field. He'll impress anyone he talks to and will get a shot to impress on the field. His size issues will drop him to mid-second day of the 2007 NFL Draft.

Herring, in our opinion, was a big time Senior Bowl and Combine snub. He is constantly labeled as an "overachiever" by the media, but how many linebackers in America could provide blanket coverage on a top notch wide receiver like Sidney Rice of South Carolina in the redzone? Don't believe it, go back and watch the tape of that game in week 5. We already knew Herring was an "achiever" and team leader on the field. Now we know he's a very good workout player, too. Obviously, N.F.L. teams will need to figure out were to play him -- safety or linebacker?

21. Jarvis Jackson - 6020, 225, 4.60, Georgia

Jarvis Jackson is one of the stalwarts at the LB position for the Bulldogs. As a senior, he was second on the team in total tackles. He's had significant playing time since his sophomore season and has been a real contributor whenever he steps on the field.

Jackson shows very good athleticism and range on the field and appears to be a solid WLB prospect for the next level. He drops into coverage with fluidity and shows above-average cover skills for a LB. As a run stopper, Jackson can go sideline-to-sideline and is excellent in pursuit.

Jackson sometimes relies too much on athleticism and not enough on understanding of offensive schemes and tendencies. He'll frequently run himself right out of a play by overpursuing or falling victim to fakes and misdirection. He needs to add strength to shed blocks better, as he struggles with that as a college player. He needs to be a more physical player.
Jackson has all the makings of a solid WLB in the NFL once he spends some time in an NFL weight room and an NFL film room. He'll probably be drafted later than he should be and could be a nice steal for a team.
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:43 PM   #6
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22. Quinton Culberson OLB Mississippi State 6-1 236 4.77

Culberson is a fantastic athlete, very versatile having played both inside and outside backer and also has earned some time at cornerback. Excels in coverage and ball skills. Agile with fluid hips. He is a big time playmaker, sideline-to-sideline range and rarely misses a tackle. Great in pursuit and closes fast. Hard worker with a good motor. Special teams potential. Still improving and has upside.

Very raw and has only played the position for a couple of years. Undersized and doesn't have the ideal height or bulk that you'd prefer. Timed speed is just average at best. Needs to get stronger and more physical. May lack top instincts. He does have some injury issues.

Ran into off-the-field trouble in high school when he fought with police. .Actually began his college career as a cornerback before moving to safety in '04 and then eventually linebacker. Intriguing prospect who is far from a finished product and will need to be developed but he certainly has some physical tools to work with.


23. Jacob Ford - 6035, 249, 4.65 Central Arkansas DE/LB

Ford is relentless with a very quick first step. He's got very good size and could end up as a nice project player for a outside linebacker. He is a hard worker and gets a lot done in pursuit. Natural pass rusher. Versatile and could play more than one position. Very athletic. Still has a lot of upside.

Ford is raw and inexperienced against top competition. Ford isn't very strong against the run and needs to develop as a pass rusher. He's not shown much in terms of playing standing up. He has struggled with injuries, but is tough and will play through pain. Lacks great instincts and intelligence is a question mark

He has excellent speed and football talent and is a good developmental prospect. In in terms of raw athleticism, Ford’s got all the tools.

24. Antwan Applewhite - 6029, 250, 4.73, San Diego St.(DE/OLB)

Quick twitch pass rusher. Very good speed off the edge. Can get to the corner. A natural pass rusher. Possesses good awareness and reacts to the action well. Changes direction, takes good angles and closes quickly. He does a nice job in pursuit and will make plays all along the LOS. Gets good drops in coverage and looks comfortable in space. Seems to have a knack for making the big play. Solid intangibles. Has special teams potential. Good upside

Came out after his junior season. A 'tweener who might not have a true pro position. He's undersized with inadequate bulk. Is not stout at the point and has trouble shedding blocks. Has to make better use of his hands and leverage. Sub par versus the run.

Definitely has some tools to work with but he'll have to get bigger and stronger to be anything more than a pass rushing specialist. Will be able to play Outside Linebacker in the 4-3 or 3-4... once he refines his play in reverse.

25. David Holloway - 6017, 229, 4.72, Maryland

David began his college career as a walk-on but became a three-year starter. Intense, competitive, smart and solid instincts got him the position. More quick than fast but he has a motor that runs non-stop. He is a tough, hard worker that has terrific weight room strength he translates to the field. Has some versatility and alot of experience . Special teams potential

Undersized and needs to bulk up. A poor tackler and isn't stout at the point of attack. He does not have fluid hips and is sub par in coverage. Too aggressive at times.

A classic overachiever who just lacks the ideal measurables.

Ameer Ismail - 6008, 232, 4.78, lbs Western Michigan

Ismail had an amazing season in 2005 where he lead the Broncos in just about every defensive statistic. Including 93 tackles and 8 sacks and was named the team's Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Ismail is a converted running back who has handled the transition exceptionally.

Steve Dildine OLB Washington State 6-1 238 4.75


LB Marques Murrell (6-1, 235 lbs.) Appalachian State

I list Murrell as a LB even though he was a rush DE in college. If he wants to play in the NFL it'll probably have to be as a 3-4 rush OLB. I think he's got a real shot because guys like him are typically project players. Murrell has great size and real knack for getting to the quarterback. He played this last season at around 240 lbs., but rumor is he's back down to between 230 and 235 to help his 40 time, which will determine his draft status, along with his ability to stand up and cover. If he can run well, meaning sub 4.7, and show that he can stand up, move laterally and cover if asked to, he could see himself tail in at the end of Day 2. If not, Murrell will certainly get a FA look.

Luke Adkins - 6020, 241, Colorado St.

Came to Colorado State as a walk-on. Redshirted during the 2002 season. Saw significant action and started three games at WLB in 2004 but injured his knee near the end of the season and had to miss most of the 2005 campaign. Had a strong senior season this year starting at SLB.
Versatile and has played both OLB positions and DE earlier on in his CSU career. Became stouter against the run and at engaging blockers after bulking up.

Lost a lot of speed and quickness after bulking up from his knee surgery; workout numbers may not be as impressive now.

A good college LB who may need to spend a year or two on the practice squad.
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:45 PM   #7
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Damaja Jones - 6005, 208, 4.55, San Jose St.

Lettered in football (Coach Gordon Wood) Helix High in La Mesa, Calif. Also was an impressive track guy who finished ninth in the 100 meters at the 2002 California state high school track and field championships.

Highly productive OLB who has the wheels to be looked at as a SS at the next level. Closes very quickly on the ball carrier. Very disruptive when rushing the QB. Makes lots of plays in the backfield.

A classic "tweener" who will need lots of reps and coaching up to switch to safety. has the speed for OLB but will take a long time in the weight room to ever be big enough.

Priority UDFA based on his senior year productivity.

Mike D'Andrea - 6030, 248, 4.70, Ohio St.

Came to Ohio State as one of the most prized recruits coming out Avon High School in Ohio. Had numerous injuries including 2005(knee), 2004 (knee), 2003(separated shoulder). Played a healthy year in 2002, but that was the only one.

We have had a hard time evaluating Mike because he hasn't seen a lot of time. He has the size and strength to play at the next level, but injuries will be a major concern. Could be a great value to a team willing to risk a pick based on his reputation.

Damaja Jones - 6005, 208, 4.55, San Jose St. (LB/SS)

Lettered in football (Coach Gordon Wood) Helix High in La Mesa, Calif. Also was an impressive track guy who finished ninth in the 100 meters at the 2002 California state high school track and field championships. Highly productive OLB who has the wheels to be looked at as a SS at the next level. Closes very quickly on the ball carrier. Very disruptive when rushing the QB. Makes lots of plays in the backfield.

A classic "tweener" who will need lots of reps and coaching up to switch to safety. has the speed for OLB but will take a long time in the weight room to ever be big enough.

Priority UDFA based on his senior year productivity.

Funtaine Hunter - 6021, 230, 4.43, Vanderbilt

Funtaine Hunter is a special teams demon with an outstanding size/speed ratio for a linebacker.

At his pro day workout he ran the 40s in 4.43 and 4.46 and had an impressive 36" VJ. He also threw up 23 reps on the bench. He ran the short shuttle in 4.31 and the three-cone in 7.22.

Abe Brown - 6030, 240, 4.69, Louisville

Brown has been a solid but unspectacular player for the Cardinals during his career. Has plenty of experience and also was a standout on the kickoff unit. Nice size and speed for the position. Tackels pretty well.

May need to add some bulk to his lanky frame to compete in the NFL. Not much of a factor in pass defense. Has never really put it all together. Will need lots of reps and patient coaching to amount to much.

Adecent LB that kind of got lost in the shuffle at Louisville.

Adam Hayward - 6004, 235, 4.48, Portland State

On paper the 6-foot, 230-pound Hayward enjoyed a collegiate career only conjured up in a dream. At the conclusion of his senior season he was flooded with hardware, collecting a first-team Associated Press All-American selection, Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year award and fourth place finish in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the best defensive player in Division I-AA.

At Portland State's Pro Day last month, he scampered to a 4.48 40-yard time in front of scouts from Tampa Bay, Seattle, Kansas City and San Francisco. His most recent taste of success came with many more eyes watching as the fleet-footed linebacker put on a show last Thursday, impressing over 40 NFL scouts and undoubtedly boosting his draft stock with the fastest time of the day.

"His performance on Thursday absolutely boosted his draft stock. He had already done well for the few scouts he ran for on campus where he ran a 4.48, which is unheard of for his height and weight. Then [in Carson, CA.] he had a fantastic day. What it does is make the teams watch additional film, and that is really the deeper process of the draft," said his agent, Derrick Fox. "Everyone I have talked to agrees he is really the talk right now. I would be really surprised if Adam isn't a sixth or seventh rounder."

Kyle Shotwell - 6004, 235, 4.56, Cal Poly ILB/OLB

A bit undersized for LB by NFL standard but clearly can get the job done. Led the nation with 21 tackles for a loss. Combined 279 tackles the last 2 years. Winner of the 2006 Buchanan Award for most outstanding defensive player in D1-AA.

Stock Rising: Shotwell took over the inside linebacker position with Beck moving on in 2005, though most scouts feel his size (6-1, 235 pounds) makes him a better fit at weak-side linebacker in the NFL. Shotwell, another player not invited to the Combine, had a reputation as a solid football player who wasn't viewed by as athletic enough to make the jump to the NFL. After a Pro Day performance that included a 4.52 40, 35.5-inch vertical and 6.96 three-cone drill, scouts are being forced to re-evaluate him.

"I thought he did a great job," the scout said. "I thought the whole squad did a really good job. They prepared. Kyle did some workouts. He's athletic. He's ready to play in the NFL. You look at Jordan Beck and the (Mustangs') track record, you have to be impressed with the numbers (Shotwell) put up and how he competed at the East-West Shrine Game."

short shuttle in 4.42 and the three-cone drill in 6.94. He also had a 35½-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-1 broad jump and did 23 bench presses.

Danny Verdun Wheeler - 6008, 246, 4.62, Georgia

Wheeler is an experienced player and a leader on defense. He has some injury problems and can tackle very well. He isn’t too fast or quick, but he is effective and does a mediocre producing.

Will Herring - 6025, 229, 4.57, Auburn

Gil Brandt, of NFL.com, reports Auburn LB Will Herring measured a height of 6-foot-2 1/2 and a weight of 229 pounds at his Pro Day. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds and 4.58 seconds, the short shuttle in 3.99 seconds and the three-cone drill in 6.56 seconds. He measured a 35-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-5 broad jump and completed 18 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press.

Derron Ware OLB Arizona State 6-4 218 4.62 36 437
Ware has great physical gifts, and a true FS mentality.

Brian Smith OLB Missouri 6-4 235 4.65
Larry McSwain - 6003, 242, 4.68, UAB
Edmund Miles 6-0, 228, 4.64, Iowa
Devraun Thompson 5-11, 225, 4.79, Rutgers
Larry Edwards 6-1, 235, 4.74, North Carolina
Devrett Wade 6-0, 232, 4.68, Arkansas State
Nick Bunting 6-1, 232, 4.73, Tulsa
Marcus Bacon 6-2, 225, 4.72, Missouri
George Hall - 6015, 243, 4.72, Purdue
Brian Kelly - 6045, 215, Dayton
Orlandis King - 6030, 215, Alabama-Birmingham
Jamar Leath - 6013, 230, 4.65 Coastal Carolina
Patrick Lowery - 6010, 242, 4.75 North Carolina State
Mike Alston - 6020, 212, 4.70, Teledo
Brandon Archer - 6003, 237, Kansas St.
Lance Gray - 6025, 235, Richmond
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