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Inside look at linebackers
By Nick Cafardo | March 20, 2005
For years, we've asked our three favorite NFL scouts (who cannot be identified because of their team affiliations) to analyze the talent coming out for the April draft. Since it's logical to think the Patriots might have to draft an inside linebacker or two given Tedy Bruschi's uncertain future, the loss of Roman Phifer, and the fact that Ted Johnson is under contract for only one year, we asked them about linebackers.
One name that popped up was a guy who wasn't a linebacker in college: Georgia defensive end David Pollack.
"He's the next Tedy Bruschi for teams who are thinking of him that way," said one of the scouts. "He's the type of kid that the Patriots would project into that type of role. Other teams will take him as a defensive end, but those who think a little bit outside of the box, like the Patriots, could definitely project him as the next Bruschi."
One problem, though, is that the Patriots pick 32d. At least, they do for now. Pollack hasn't had the greatest workouts, and he has gone up and down on teams' draft boards the past few weeks, so it's hard to say exactly where he falls in a first-round projection. But the Patriots have been known to move up to get the player they want, so if Pollack is their guy, they'll wheel and deal.
Pollack, who is listed at 6 feet 3 inches, 276 pounds, broke the Georgia record for sacks with 36. He also won the Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman, the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's top defensive player, the Ronnie Lott Award as the nation's biggest impact player, and the Ted Hendricks Award the past two years as the top defensive end.
"He'll be a good pro player whichever way he goes," said one of the other scouts. "He's not the fastest guy, but he's quick enough to play off the edge in a 4-3. But you could see him playing linebacker in a 3-4."
Pollack seems to epitomize what the Patriots look for. He's doesn't wow you with his stopwatch times or measurements, but he can play football at a high level with great instincts. That is something Bill Belichick has often said about Bruschi.
After Pollack, our scouts rank the linebackers this way:
1. Derrick Johnson, Texas. "The best linebacker in the draft. He's probably going to be an outside linebacker, but he can play inside in a 3-4 because he's so tough and has such a nose for the football. He's very strong. Very fast. Good football speed. He'll go early. Doubt he'd be around for the Patriots unless they move up."
2. Kevin Burnett, Tennessee. "More of an outside linebacker, but he would be tough to resist if he's still on the board late in the first round. Don't think the Patriots will go this way, but you never know." Burnett is a shade under 6-3 and about 235 pounds, but he projects to be about 10 pounds heavier in the NFL. Our three guys seemed to be higher on him than others. The consensus around the league is that he's a second- or third-round pick. Our guys seem to think he'll be a better pro than he was a college player. The Patriots have been to his workouts, so they obviously have interest.
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Inside look at linebackers
March 20, 2005
Page 2 of 4 -- 3. Odell Thurman, Georgia. At 6-1 and 237 pounds, the junior is a favorite of a lot of teams looking for a playmaker. Question is, will his size shift him to the outside or can he take his lumps with the bigger guys in the middle? Two of our scouts didn't think Thurman could play inside in a 3-4, but one felt he could play any linebacker position because he's so strong and athletic. Our scouts tell us the Patriots have spent some extra time with Thurman. The Patriots like Georgia defenders.
4. Barrett Ruud, Nebraska. A pure middle linebacker, with kind of a Ted Johnson look. He's tough, and a great leader on the field who should be a strong run-stopper at the NFL level. Ruud is a tad over 6-2 and weighs about 245. "Nothing flashy. Just a good, tough football player. Not a great athlete, but not a bad one, either. He can play the `mike' and he'll give you everything he's got. He's going to be a very solid NFL player." Ruud comes from a football family. His father, Tom, was a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1975 out of Nebraska.
5. Channing Crowder, Florida. The Patriots have kept their eye on him. "I think the guy they like is Channing Crowder from Florida. He's one of those really athletic guys who can do different things, but he's big enough at almost 6-3, 245, to take the punishment inside. This kid is a player. You can see him being groomed in the inside of that 3-4 and doing a bunch of different things they do with those guys inside. He should be there when they pick, but he's starting to get a lot of attention. A lot of teams love the guy." Crowder has had multiple procedures on both knees, so there may be health concerns. He's the son of former NFL defensive lineman Randy Crowder.
[/quote:18c73f4ad1] we need to go lb in the first to get a starting caliber because thisi s probably where boston is going before wwe pick again..we can get backups later in the draft
4-linebackers good and plenty--including mccune...good backup option.
i'd prefer ruud and then mcune later and let watson play wide or burnett if his knee holds up.
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