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LB Thread (nothing about Howard here)

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Since LBs seem to be the other hot topic this offseason: Analysis by position: Linebackers Position-by-position: DL · LB By Gil Brandt NFL.com Senior Analyst (April 12, 2005) -- Over the past four drafts (2001 through 2004), only six linebackers ...

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Old 04-12-2005, 12:48 PM   #1
Chuck Liddells Right Hand
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LB Thread (nothing about Howard here)

Since LBs seem to be the other hot topic this offseason:

Analysis by position: Linebackers

Position-by-position: DL · LB

By Gil Brandt
NFL.com Senior Analyst

(April 12, 2005) -- Over the past four drafts (2001 through 2004), only six linebackers -- Terrell Suggs and Jason Babin both played defensive end in college but converted to linebacker in the NFL -- have been drafted in the first round. Over the past 10 years, 30 linebackers have been selected in Round 1, with seven first-rounders in the 2000 draft setting the high-water mark over that period.

The 2004 crop of linebackers was very fast with the first three selected recording an average time of 4.57 in the 40-yard dash. The 2005 class is equally fast with seven linebackers running under 4.6, and one (Jordan Beck of Cal-Poly SLO) running under 4.5 on grass at his school's Pro Day.

With more teams going to the 3-4 type of defense, we are going to see teams draft players who played defensive line and try to convert them to players who can play down and rush the passer, and also play up and play in space. Last year, Houston moved up in the draft to select Jason Babin of Western Michigan, where he played defensive end, but he was switched to outside linebacker in the Texans' 3-4 defense.

Many colleges are recruiting tight ends and running backs to play linebacker. I think this is the reason we have so much speed at this position in the draft -- top players like Lance Mitchell (Oklahoma), Channing Crowder (Florida), Kevin Burnett (Tennessee) and Michael Boley (Southern Mississippi) were all running backs in high school.

It is very important that linebackers are good special-teams players, especially on coverage teams.

1. Derrick Johnson, Texas (6-3¼, 242)

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Old 04-12-2005, 01:02 PM   #2
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LB Thread (nothing about Howard here)

What scouts look for when grading linebackers:

Critical factors
1. Character
2. Ability to learn football

3. Competitive toughness
4. Work habits
5. Athletic ability

Position specifics
1. Reactions
2. Range
3. Pass defense
4. Hands (catching)
5. Strength at point
6. Stays on feet
7. Use of hands
8. Tackling ability
9. Pass rush
since this is what the pros use-this should be our criteria.

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Old 04-12-2005, 01:14 PM   #3
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LB Thread (nothing about Howard here)

Another DJ article, in Q and A format:

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Old 04-12-2005, 01:25 PM   #4
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LB Thread (nothing about Howard here)

But what about Howard?
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Old 04-12-2005, 01:44 PM   #5
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LB Thread (nothing about Howard here)

lay (Hillsdale,Mi)
What are the chances that D.Johnson will fall to #10, and if he does will the Lions take him?

I think there\'s a very good possibility of Johnson slipping out of the top 10. LB\'s have a tendency to slip and there aren\'t many teams interested in LB\'s in the top 10. Arizona has an outside shot at 8 if they trade for Henry and if Rolle is gone. Otherwise, I think he could easily fall to No. 10. I think the Lions could go after Johnson at 10 but they also could use that pick on Merriman if he slips or Alex Barron to fill the Stockar McDougal void at right tackle.
from todd mcshay\'s chat...

MOre than likely we won\'t have to go as high as 3...so why do a ricky williams draft for a player that will be there a little later...or maybe go for quantity...
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:58 AM   #6
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LB Thread (nothing about Howard here)

Johnson known to miss some playsBy Len Pasquarelli

Here is how ESPN.com rates the top 12 linebacker prospects in the draft:

Derrick Johnson played both ILB and OLB during his career at Texas.
• OLB Derrick Johnson (Texas)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 3¼, 242 pounds, 4.52 in the 40.
Numbers game: Was a Parade Magazine All-American selection in high school, where he reportedly recorded 30 tackles and four forced fumbles in one game. Three-year starter for the Longhorns, opening in 40 of 50 appearances, and finished his college career with 458 tackles, 65 tackles for loss, 10½ sacks, 39 pressures, 11 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and nine interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Recorded 120 or more tackles in each season as a starter and had four interceptions each in 2002 and 2003. In 2004, won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation\'s top defensive player and the Butkus Award as the best linebacker. Was a consensus All-American and named to the all-Big 12 team.
Upside: Fluid athlete with great flexibility, loose hips and great speed. Can chase down plays all over the field. Good range, covers a lot of space with only a few steps. Knows how to pick up his feet to avoid getting caught up in the trash. Moves laterally with a lot of facility. Can go sideline to sideline. Instinctive and aware, a solid diagnostician. Fine closing speed. Very productive in every phase of the game. Definite team leader.
Downside: The critics feel he avoids too many plays. His supporters contend that you can\'t have more than 450 career tackles by not taking people on. But watch him on tape and you can see the detractors make a good point. He runs around way too many plays and, even with all those tackles, he whiffs far too much. Doesn\'t stack the way he should and will not stand up the lead-blocker. More of a drag-down tackler. Not an explosive blitzer.
The dish: We\'re not sold, and neither are a few scouts whose opinions we value, but we are in the minority. Could be the first defensive player off the board and almost certain to be among the top dozen prospects chosen.

• OLB/DE Shawne Merriman (Maryland)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 4 3/8, 272 pounds, 4.68 in the 40.
Numbers game: In high school, averaged nearly 150 tackles per season as a three-year starter. Started in 17 of 38 appearances during three-year college career, didn\'t start for a full season until the \'04 campaign, when he lined up at the \"Leo\" position, a hybrid end/linebacker spot on the strong side. Registered 189 tackles, 32½ tackles for loss, 22 sacks, 27 pressures, four forced fumbles and three recoveries. Had 85 tackles and 17 tackles for loss in 2004. An all-ACC choice in 2004.
Upside: Classic downhill player, quick-twitch speed, doesn\'t take long for him to get to maximum acceleration. An explosive athlete, comes off hard with the first step and can fly into the backfield and disrupt offensive flow. Powerful enough to stand up blockers, stack at the point of attack and move the line of scrimmage. Fast enough to chase plays down from the backside. Big-time closing speed when turned loose on the quarterback. Knows how to corner and flatten out on the pass rush. Uses his hands well and will knock blockers away from him. Carries his weight really well and looks more like a 255-pound player than someone in the 270s. A physical freak with an undeniable mean streak.
Downside: Doesn\'t quite redirect as well as he could. Perhaps a little tight in the hips. Will overrun some plays because he is so naturally aggressive, then sometimes struggles to recover. Has to remember to bend his knees more consistently and to get his pad level down. Some scouts feel he has gotten so big that he will have to line up at end.
The dish: Incredible combination of size and speed. His value is certainly enhanced by the reemergence of the 3-4 front because he is the kind of hybrid \"edge\" defender so many teams are seeking now. Should be a top-12 pick.

More on LBs
Others: ILB Lofa Tatupu (Southern California), OLB David McMillan (Kansas), ILB Kirk Morrison (San Diego State), OLB Cornelius Wortham (Alabama), OLB Jared Newberry (Stanford), ILB Lance Mitchell (Oklahoma), ILB Adam Seward (Nevada-Las Vegas), ILB Marcus Lawrence (South Carolina), OLB Michael Boley (Southern Mississippi), OLB Bryant Brown (Houston), ILB Mike Goolsby (Notre Dame).

Rising: LeRoy Hill (Clemson) was a productive, high-motor player who has made a lot of late visits and is definitely gaining momentum with scouts. His lack of size has been overshadowed by his athletic skills. Ryan Claridge (Nevada-Las Vegas) has great size (6 foot 2¼, 254 pounds), is a deceptively good athlete, and can play either middle or strong linebacker and contribute on special teams. He has moved into the high middle rounds. All Lionel Turner (LSU) did was lead the Tigers in tackles last season and, with his knees seemingly sound again, he is back on the radar screen.
Declining: He will probably still go off the board in the middle rounds, but there isn\'t quite the buzz about Rian Wallace (Temple) as there was a month or two ago. Most teams feel he should have stayed in school for his senior season. Also slipping a bit, but more because of age (25) than his ability, is Robert McCune (Louisville), who spent three years in the National Guard.

Intriguing: An end in college, Jonathan Goddard (Marshall) had 22½ sacks over the past two seasons, including 16 quarterback takedowns in 2004. He can be an explosive pass-rusher and, while he struggles in space, should at least merit consideration as a situational defender … Another college end, Andre Frazier (Cincinnati), doesn\'t have great athleticism but is an overachiever who has flashed enough to draw a look … Marques Harris (Southern Utah) has some injury and off-field concerns, but had 11 sacks in 2004 and might be a good fit in a 3-4 front … Robert Rodriguez (Texas-El Paso) is too productive to ignore.

Sleepers: Kenneth Pettway (Grambling) has long arms and posted 19½ sacks the last two seasons. He is a \"tweener,\" but with so many teams playing the 3-4 now, that isn\'t such a bad thing to be … Nigel Eldridge (UAB) is limited athletically but was very steady in a good program … James Grigsby (Illinois State) is undersized but still very strong, and was his conference\'s defensive player of the year for each of the last three seasons.
Notable: Derrick Johnson\'s (Texas) brother, Dwight, played for Baylor and was a journeyman in the NFL for a few seasons. Johnson is the cousin of former NFL wideout Bert Emanuel … Channing Crowder (Florida) is the son of former NFL defensive end Randy Crowder, who played for Cincinnati and Miami … Lionel Turner (LSU) is the cousin of former Buffalo defensive back Raion Hill … Lofa Tatupu (Southern Cal) is the son of one-time New England fullback Mosi Tatupu … The father of Barrett Ruud (Nebraska) also played for the Cornhuskers, as did two uncles and his great-grandfather … As a high school senior, Lance Mitchell (Oklahoma) played tailback and rushed for over 3,000 yards and 36 touchdowns … Jared Newberry\'s (Stanford) grandfather and two great-uncles played baseball in the Negro Leagues … The father of Marques Harris (Southern Utah), Alvin Phillips, played football at Colorado … James Grigsby (Illinois State) is a three-time AAU All-American on the trampoline … Ryan Claridge (Nevada-Las Vegas) is the brother of Carolina Panthers guard Travis Claridge … The father of Jordan Beck (Cal-Poly) played college football, and his mother was a swimmer.

• OLB/DE Demarcus Ware (Troy)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 4, 251 pounds, 4.56 in the 40.
Numbers game: Only played two seasons of football in high school and was recruited as a skinny wide receiver. Probably better known in high school as a basketball player and track star. Played in 44 games at end and started 35 of them. Had 201 tackles, 58 tackles for loss, 27½ sacks, 76 pressures, 10 forced fumbles and four recoveries. Twice named to the all-Conference USA team and was the conference\'s defensive player of the year for 2004 season. Also a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award in 2004.
Upside: Natural outside pass-rusher, explodes out of his stance and gets upfield, can flatten out and close on the passer. Like a heat-seeking missile at times. Over a 10- or 15-yard space, there are few players in this draft faster than he is. Terrific athlete, can run all day, changes direction nicely. Good body control, seems to just flow to the ball. Agile and loose. Long arms so, when he gets into blocker, he can extend and create separation. Has shown some ability to drop into the flat and play in space.
Downside: Very raw, hasn\'t had much exposure to the game, and certainly not to the linebacker position, which is where he will be asked to play by some teams. Long, lean frame isn\'t all that strong, and he might need another 10 pounds. Doesn\'t always play with leverage and will get washed out at the point of attack. Will have to use his hands better and get off blocks quicker. Like most smaller-school players, relies a lot on just his physical skills.
The dish: Another \"tweener\" defender who will be very popular with 3-4 teams. Has skyrocketed up draft boards and could be chosen in the top half of the first round.

• OLB Darryl Blackstock (Virginia)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 2 5/8, 247 pounds, 4.70 in the 40.
Numbers game: Registered an amazing 29 sacks as a high school senior, then spent a year at Fork Union Military Academy before enrolling at Virginia in 2002. Started in all but one of his 39 appearances and finished with 237 tackles, 42½ tackles for loss, 27 sacks, 46 pressures, two forced fumbles, four recoveries and an interception. Also had one blocked punt in 2002. Led the ACC with 11 sacks in 2004 and is the school\'s career leader in quarterback takedowns.
Upside: Another premier athlete with basketball-type movement skills and NBA-caliber leaping ability. Good pursuit player and an excellent blitzer off the edge. Nice feel for when and where the holes will open for him in the blitz. Plays with an economy of motion and lifts his feet through the garbage. Good awareness when playing in space. Has displayed some cover skills.
Downside: Despite weighing nearly 250 pounds, doesn\'t play that big or that strong. Not stout enough on the plays run right at him and tries to run around too many blocks and redirect to the play from the backside. Too much run-and-chase to his game and way too much finesse. Will have to use his hands a lot better at the next level.
The dish: There\'s plenty of nice foundation here and a ton of natural ability. Will need some more bulk and a better understanding of leverage, but a top-shelf prospect.

• OLB Kevin Burnett (Tennessee)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 2 7/8, 235 pounds, 4.61 in the 40.
Numbers game: Played running back in high school and was primarily recruited by the Vols to play safety. Moved to linebacker during his freshman season. Missed all but one quarter of the 2002 season after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament. Played in 49 games and started 28 contests. Chalked up 274 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, eight sacks, 10 pressures, three forced fumbles, three recoveries and one interception. Had 120 tackles, including 90 solo stops, in 2004. An all-SEC selection in 2004 and was twice named to the conference\'s all-academic team.
Upside: Very active, but economical at the same time. Sees the ball quickly, takes solid angles and gets into the play. Compensates for a lack of explosiveness and closing speed with instinctive style. The kind of defender who looks fairly unremarkable during a game but, when you check the stat sheet, has 10 tackles. A very sure tackler, won\'t slide off ball carriers, and will step into the hole. Hits with a natural, rising motion.
Downside: A good, but not great, athlete. Not nearly as complete a pass-rusher as some of the other linebacker prospects. Might be more of a drop-and-cover player and, in that area, will have to get better at tracking receivers from the backfield. Plays off his feet a little too often and sometimes has lapses in which he struggles to disengage.
The dish: Nice player who has competed at a high level and knows how to play the game. A solid second-round pick.

• ILB Odell Thurman (Georgia)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 0 1/8, 233 pounds, 4.62 in the 40.
Numbers game: Was a partial qualifier in 2001, then, after some off-field and academic problems, played at Georgia Military Academy in 2002. Transferred back to Georgia in \'03 and started in 22 of 23 appearances. Had 186 tackles, 29½ tackles for loss, 9½ sacks, 24 pressures, two forced fumbles, three recoveries and two interceptions. Returned one interception for a touchdown. Was all-SEC and a semifinalist for the Butkus Award in 2004. Was suspended for the first three games of the \'04 campaign for violating unspecified team rules.
Upside: Huge hitter who strikes a natural, rising blow and really gets his legs and hips into a tackle. When he smacks you, chances are you\'re going down. An explosive first-contact defender who can jolt a ball carrier and stop him in his tracks. Wraps up on tackles and drives through people. Reads keys well and gets up into the hole. Hustles and will make plays outside the tackle box. A decent inside blitzer. Plays with a chip on his shoulder. Solid work ethic.
Downside: His motor might actually run a little too high – he bites easily on play-action fakes. Has a tendency to overrun some plays and doesn\'t redirect back into the flow. Not very good in coverage and will struggle in space. A ton of off-field issues, including two suspensions, and definitely lacks maturity.
The dish: Just grading him on football skills, probably the best inside linebacker in the draft, and maybe the premier backer, period. But teams that are doing background checks on him can\'t like some of the stuff being unearthed. No worse than a second-round pick on ability, but it will be interesting to see how much the character red flags will hurt him.

• OLB Matt McCoy (San Diego State)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 0, 234 pounds, 4.62 in the 40.
Numbers game: Redshirted as a freshman. Three-year starter, opened in 29 games and finished with 270 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Had 18 tackles in a 2004 game against Michigan. Missed the final game in \'04 because of a wrist injury. Was twice named second-team all-Mountain West Conference.
Upside: Just a good, steady defender who is never going to be flashy or athletically jaw-dropping, but a guy who makes the plays he is supposed to make. A sure, wrap-up tackler who is always in position. Solid cover skills and can run deep. Big heart and big motor and a solid character guy.
Downside: Lack of bulk means he gets engulfed every once in a while. Will go through stretches where he gets blocked too easily. Needs to get stronger.
The dish: Might have been the best player not invited to the combine. On a steady rise, has made a lot of visits the past month, and some teams rate him as a possible second-round prospect.

• ILB Barrett Ruud (Nebraska)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 2½, 241 pounds, 4.75 in the 40.
Numbers game: A starter on three state championship teams in high school. Started 37 games and appeared in 50, posting 432 tackles, 50 tackles for loss, eight sacks, 29 pressures, seven forced fumbles, three recoveries and one interception. Had a fumble return for a touchdown. Averaged 146 tackles over his final two seasons, and his 143 stops in 2004 led the conference. An all-Big 12 pick in 2004 and was also named to the conference\'s all-academic team last season.
Upside: Intense, smart and, as his numbers indicate, very productive. Competes on every snap. Uses his hands well to shed blockers and does a nice job of keeping people off his legs. Plays on his feet and under control. Moves his feet well and very fluid in going laterally down the line. Does a nice job of ducking under blocks and sliding underneath a play. Drops well and has nice awareness in the coverage game.
Downside: A sure tackler, but not a guy who will jolt you. Doesn\'t strike through the tackle or hit with natural rising action. A step slow on some plays.
The dish: Played mostly outside linebacker in college but might have to make the switch to the inside at the next level. A productive player in four different defenses during his college career, so change is nothing new to him. A second- or third-round pick.

• ILB Channing Crowder (Florida)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 2¼, 245 pounds, 4.67 in the 40.
Numbers game: Played mostly at tailback in high school and delayed enrollment at Florida while he rehabilitated a knee injury. Played in 20 games and started 17 of them, recording 179 tackles, 13½ tackles for loss, four sacks, one pressure, two forced fumbles, three recoveries and an interception. Voted a team captain as a sophomore. Was an all-SEC choice in 2004. Was twice suspended, one game on each occasion, for scrapes with the law.
Upside: Has an undeniable swagger to him. Plays with a sense of urgency. Vocal on the field and just a naturally intense defender. Cuts through the traffic to get to the ball and, when he arrives, is an explosive hitter. Tries to de-cleat the ball carrier every chance he gets. Fancies himself an intimidator and, at times, certainly fills the role. Sheds nicely, really uses his hands well, strong enough to slap blockers away. Makes plays outside the box and can get out on the edge. Has some rush ability and times his blitzes well.
Downside: Not as fluid as you want, especially through the hips, and falls into the habit of not breaking down into a textbook football position. Sometimes allows his emotions to take over and will play out of control and with a lack of discipline. Got away with some freelancing in college that won\'t cut it at the next level. Has had knee problems and some off-field issues that could be a factor.
The dish: Teams are looking hard at his character and examining some of the off-field incidents in which he was involved, but seem almost as concerned with his knees. Might still sneak into the bottom of the first round, depending on individual teams, but could just as easily slip into the third round.

• ILB Alfred Fincher (Connecticut)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 1 3/8, 248 pounds, 4.68 in the 40.
Numbers game: Three-year starter, played in 47 games, starting 35 of them. Posted 354 tackles, 33½ tackles for loss, five sacks, seven pressures, eight forced fumbles, five recoveries and four interceptions. Had one interception return for a touchdown. Had 90 or more tackles, including 140 stops in 2004, in each of his final three seasons. His 140 tackles in \'04 led the conference. Chosen for the all-Big East team as a senior.
Upside: Tough, gritty overachiever, kind of flew under the radar screen until UConn moved to the Big East and he began to get some exposure. A good athlete, has a feel for the game and, when you stop the video, he\'s almost always in the frame. Knows how to scrape off a blocker, how to get up inside the flow and how to make the play. A sure tackler who will step up into the hole. Enough speed to turn and run deep down the middle, so could be a good fit for \"Cover 2\" teams. Competitive and feisty.
Downside: Doesn\'t explode into tackles. Occasionally tries to do too much instead of just taking care of his own responsibilities, and will get out of position. Gets caught inside a little too much.
The dish: A player on the rise, has a nice foundation on which to build, and figures to be a first-day choice.

• OLB Jordan Beck (Cal-Poly)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 2 3/8, 233 pounds, 4.60 in the 40.
Numbers game: High school wide receiver and defensive back. Moved to linebacker as a true freshman in 2001 and appeared in 10 games. Started in all but three of 43 outings, had 449 tackles, 51½ tackles for loss, 16½ sacks, 16 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and three recovered, and four interceptions. A monster year in 2004, when he totaled 135 tackles, 5½ sacks, six forced fumbles and four interceptions. Arguably one of the best overall seasons in the country by a linebacker at any college level. Captured the Buck Buchanan Award in 2004 as the top defensive player in I-AA football. Was also named the Great Western Conference defensive player of the year.
Upside: Bright, aware player, made most of the defensive adjustment calls in college and always scored high with coaches in the cerebral side of the game. Consistently productive throughout his career. Doesn\'t go many snaps without making a play. Has good burst and can fly to the ball. Much better athlete than he originally appears and posted a 41-inch vertical jump at the scouting combine. Has some cover skills. Goes hard every snap.
Downside: For as quick as he is, the speed is largely straight-line, and he is not a big change of direction guy. Played way off the line of scrimmage in his college defensive scheme, so some questions about how well he takes on blockers. Doesn\'t use his hands well. Hasn\'t played against big-time competition.
The dish: A few teams feel he moves well enough to switch to safety. An interesting guy, might have to play in a scheme where he is covered and protected and just allowed to run to the ball.

• OLB Trent Cole (Cincinnati)
Vital statistics: 6 foot 2¼, 243 pounds, 4.77 in the 40.
Numbers game: Sat out his freshman season to work on academics. Began his career at defensive tackle, then moved to end, but projects best to linebacker. Played in 38 games, starting 33, and finished with 238 tackles, 48 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, 35 pressures, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Upside: Impressive-looking athlete. Despite playing end for most of career, seems to have linebacker-type abilities. Plays nice gap control, takes care of his own business, and grades out well in terms of assignments. Good knee bend, can work across blockers, and not afraid to take people on head-up. Good motor.
Downside: Lacks fluidity and, when stacked up against better competition in the Senior Bowl practices, didn\'t step it up. Will hang back too much at times, and might not be a good diagnostician. Plays off-balance and is on the ground more than you\'d like.
The dish: Innate pass-rush skills, raw athleticism and potential could get him into the first day of the draft.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

Brock, Kansas City, MO
Are the Chiefs looking at Carlos Rogers, or Channing Crowder at 15?

That\'s way too high for Crowder. His knee concerns will put him in the third or fourth round. Rogers is a possiblity there. As is Pac Man if he drops.

adam (state college)
mel, considering merriman\'s ability to rush the passer and derrick johnson\'s tendency to shy away from contact wouldnt that put merriman ahead of johnson on the big board?

It depends on what style you are looking for. In the 3-4, the ideal guy is Merriman who can play up or down. That\'s why I have him going to Dallas. I think Johnson is a better fit for Detroit. I have Johnson rated at No. 8 and Merriman at 15. So there is a gap but they both have very similar final grades.

ndrew (Arlington, TX)
If Derrick Johnson happens to slip to the number 11 spot, would the Cowboys prefer him or Merriman?

Hard to say. Merriman can play down or up in the McGinnest mold. Johnson is a pure OLB. I think they would go with the higher rated player. On my board it\'s Johnson.

No. He\'s just not that big. He\'s up to about 238 or 240. But I\'m not sure he could go bigger. He\'s an OLB and needs to be more of a short tackler with more aggressive play. But he can be a very good LB in this league. I do seem him going to the Lions as a OLB.

Mike (New York)
Mel who would be interested in trading down with the Raiders to acquire Charles Woodson?

All I go by is what Clayton tells me and he says Woodson will remain a Raider.
[Edited on 14/4/2005 by baronm]
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Old 04-14-2005, 02:39 PM   #7
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LB Thread (nothing about Howard here)

Derrick Johnson: (3:02 PM ET ) Hello everyone! I\'m ready for your questions!

Cody Decatur Alabama: What is the thing that excites you the most about becoming a player in the NFL?

Derrick Johnson: (3:03 PM ET ) The big thing is to fulfill my dream. Just knowing all the guys I\"ve been watching all my life, I can be like them now. The NFL is the biggest level you can get to so I just want to do the best I can.

Scott (Eagan, MN): Hey Derrick, I really hope the Vikings take you with the 7th pick. Have you had much contact with Minnesota?

Derrick Johnson: (3:04 PM ET ) Minnesota is a possibility. They are a great team that could use a LB. But when it comes to the draft, you never know what to expect.

Lionbatcher (Lubbock, Tx.): DJ, who was your favorite player growing up?

Derrick Johnson: (3:04 PM ET ) Probably Derrick Brooks. He\'s a similar player to me and just a great guy on and off the field.

David: shawnee kansas: Do you consider yourself more of a Strongside or a weakside linebacker? Please come to Kansas city!!!!

Derrick Johnson: (3:05 PM ET ) More of a weakside. That\'s what I played in college. I can play all the LB positions though. That\'s just the versatility I have.

Matt (Phx, AZ): I\'m sure you\'ve had to tackle Benson quite often before. Is he the hardest running back to bring down, or is someone else?

Derrick Johnson: (3:05 PM ET ) By far the hardest. He is just so explosive. As soon as he gets the ball he can run or juke you out.

Justin (Detroit): How did your visit to Detroit go on Tuesday?

Derrick Johnson: (3:06 PM ET ) It was good. Detroit is really excited about the Draft. They pick at 10 so if I\'m on the board, hopefully they will take me.

Grant (London, ON): What was the craziest question you were asked in a team interview?

Derrick Johnson: (3:06 PM ET ) Why I hadn\'t beat Oklahoma.

Craig (Austin): Does it bother you that Mel Kiper states that you avoided some tackles this year. I guess he really didn\'t watch all your games last year.

Derrick Johnson: (3:07 PM ET ) I guess he hasn\'t watched to many games then. Everybody has their own opinion. I know what I can do and I have high expectations for myself.

Larry (Houston, TX): What number do you hope to wear in the NFL?

Derrick Johnson: (3:08 PM ET ) Probably 51, 52, 55 or 56. One of those.

Phil, Warren MI: What will be the hardest transition for you going in to the NFL??

Derrick Johnson: (3:08 PM ET ) Probably just the mental aspect of the game. They are going to throw so many different things at you. You will be tested but you have to take it all in. It won\'t be easy but I\'m looking forward to it.

Noble (Phoenix, AZ): Can you tackle Vince Young in the open field? LOL!!! How was it playing against him in practice?

Derrick Johnson: (3:09 PM ET ) Oh, man! That would be very hard! Maybe 4 out of 10 times .. maybe. Most of the time I have to funnel him into the guys around me. He is just so talented. He\'s soooo hard to tackle. Probably the hardest outside of Cedric.

Chris - NY, NY: What are your preferences with respect to a team, its coach, defensive scheme, location, etc.?

Derrick Johnson: (3:10 PM ET ) Moreso the defensive scheme. You can adapt to coaches, locations, etc. But you always want to know where you will be playing on the field and how effective you can be.

Epsilon Williams :San Marcos, Texas: What will be your biggest fear or concern going into your rookie career?

Derrick Johnson: (3:11 PM ET ) No fears. I\'m just anxious and excited. I want to play with the big guys. It\'ll be like being a freshman all over again. No fears right now. Hopefully it stays that way.

Mike Nice (Naples, Fl): CMon Dee, Dont you think your game is like a young Jesse Armstead...?

Derrick Johnson: (3:12 PM ET ) Yeah, I\'ve been compared to him before. He\'s another good guy who has had success. Hopefully I can do what he has done, or even better.

Phil NYC, NY: Derrick... what\'s the first thing you are going to get yourself as a reward for all the hard work you\'ve done with that first pro paycheck/signing bonus?

Derrick Johnson: (3:13 PM ET ) Probably a candy red Hummer.

Scott (Princeton,NJ): Have the cowboys expressed any interest in you at all and how would you feel about playing in Texas

Derrick Johnson: (3:13 PM ET ) A little bit, yeah. They are looking so it\'s a possiblity.

Rob (Il): Derrick, Choose one. Christina Millian, Megan Goode, Beyonce, Ciara, or Ashanti ? Thanks

Derrick Johnson: (3:13 PM ET ) Golly that\'s hard. I would have to go with Beyonce though.

John (Columbus, Oh): DJ, Why Candy Red? Why not Longhorn Burnt Orange?

Derrick Johnson: (3:14 PM ET ) That\'s a possibility too. That would be real nice

Rocky ((New Waterford)): How do you feel about playing in the 3-4 for Romeo Crennel?

Derrick Johnson: (3:15 PM ET ) Oh, definately. I can play all the positions. The 3-4 I could play outside as a rush end or inside. I could be a good blitzing LB.

bryant (slidell): who would you like to tackle in the nfl?

Derrick Johnson: (3:15 PM ET ) Michael Vick .. if I can get my hands on him.

Ryan (Friendswood,Tx): Do you think your gunna stay in Texas? Would you like to stay in Texas?

Derrick Johnson: (3:16 PM ET ) I would love to stay in Texas if the opportunity was there. I have been here my whole life.

jerry (ferndale, michigan): Did you get to catch up with Roy Williams while you were here in Detroit and what were your thoughts of playing here.

Derrick Johnson: (3:17 PM ET ) Yes, I talked to him for a bit. I was only there for a day but we talked real quick.

dave (austin, tx): do you think you\'re gonna be drafted before Cedric?

Derrick Johnson: (3:17 PM ET ) I\'ve always said no. But I guess there is a chance. I\'ve always put him in front of me though. RBs are a little more needed than LB. Either way, we\'ll both get drafted high.

Hunter Austin, TX: DJ, where are you going to be on draft day?

Derrick Johnson: (3:18 PM ET ) I\'ll be at home in Waco with my family.

Jeff (Austin): Why weren\'t you a bigger factor in the Rose Bowl? Was Michigan really focusing on avoiding you?

Derrick Johnson: (3:18 PM ET ) A little because of that. They had plays designed to cut me off. You can\'t make all the plays all the time.

Austin: Fresno, Ca.: DJ- What are you going to miss most about U of Texas and the city of Austin?

Derrick Johnson: (3:19 PM ET ) Just the coaching staff and the players. It was a real family atmosphere. I\'ll always cherish that.

David (Raleigh, NC): Hey Derrick. How r u? Have the Carolina Panthers shown any interest and what would you think about playing for them?

Derrick Johnson: (3:20 PM ET ) Yes, they have. They\'ve shown a lot of interest. I visited them recently. If I were to slip down they would definately pick me up.

Dolan (Austin Texas): You gonna visit Austin after you go big-time?

Derrick Johnson: (3:21 PM ET ) Definately! I\'ll always visit Austin. It\'s a place everyone wants to be! I\'d love to come back. Austin treats me real good.

jason (dalton): you think you can make an impact as a rookie?

Derrick Johnson: (3:21 PM ET ) Definately. My expectations are high. I just want to soak up as much info as I can and be the best rookie I can be.

Jay (Amarillo): What do you think of your former teamate Rickey Williams?

Derrick Johnson: (3:22 PM ET ) I never played with Ricky so I don\'t know too much about him other than he was a heck of a football player. Phenomenal.

Mack (Fairfax, VA): Do you think Texas can finally get over the hump and beat OU this year?

Derrick Johnson: (3:23 PM ET ) I think they will. We\'re going to have another great team. Every year you have to believe you can beat them. Hopefully this year they can.

Kurt (Detroit): Whats your favorite team in Madden NFL?

Derrick Johnson: (3:23 PM ET ) I use the Eagles.

farnsworth (austin, tx): What did you think of the movie \"Man of the House\"?

Derrick Johnson: (3:24 PM ET ) I didn\'t see that one.

Vishal (Austin): What has been your favorite part of the draft process??

Derrick Johnson: (3:25 PM ET ) Probably the combine. Seeing all the coaches and running in front of all the coaches. It just was just fun to meet all those guys.

Max (Pittsburgh, PA): If you could play any other sport other than football what would it be?

Derrick Johnson: (3:25 PM ET ) Basketball or track. I would play basketball first.

Stephen (Flower Mound, TX): DJ, what rap do you listen to?

Derrick Johnson: (3:26 PM ET ) Yeah, I listen to rap. I like 50 Cent. And a little Flip.

Matt (Minneapolis): What are you best defending: running plays or passing plays?

Derrick Johnson: (3:27 PM ET ) I can do both. I wouldn\'t rate one over the other. My game is very balanced on both sides.

Jeffrey (Austin, Texas): Derrick, how about when you launched Adrian Peterson upside down in the air in the OU game? How did that feel?

Derrick Johnson: (3:27 PM ET ) Ha! It feels good! Felt good to get him down on the ground. Nice to see him on his back.

Mike (Philly): Would you be upset if you aren\'t drafted in the top 10?

Derrick Johnson: (3:28 PM ET ) I wouldn\'t be upset. I just want to go to a team and fulfill my dreams. If I go 15 or whatever, I\'ll still be grateful.

Rocky (Nashville): When did you first start using your patented fumble causing move?

Derrick Johnson: (3:29 PM ET ) I just started it in practice and then started using it in games. I can do it without even thinking about it.

Keith (Austin): Who\'s better, you or Shawn Merriman?

Derrick Johnson: (3:30 PM ET ) I don\'t want to compare myself to another player. But I have confidence that I\'m the best def. player in the draft. But Shawne is a great player.

Derrick Johnson: (3:30 PM ET ) I don\'t want to compare myself to another player. But I have confidence that I\'m the best def. player in the draft. But Shawne is a great player.

Brian (New Canaan, CT): How hard to tackle was Mike Hart in the Rose Bowl?

Derrick Johnson: (3:31 PM ET ) It was pretty hard. He stays very low to the ground and has thick thighs. You have to wrap him up pretty quick.

Keith (Front Royal VA): Any thought on DT Luis Cattillo admitting he took steroids or the 2 Wisconcin Badgers who failed for marijuana?

Derrick Johnson: (3:32 PM ET ) I haven\'t heard of too many people using steroids in college football. I\'m the type of person that thinks if you can play you can play and if you can\'t you can\'t. Taking steroids is just plain cheating.

casey (stl): Are you leaving a possible Heisman Qb in Austin ?

Derrick Johnson: (3:33 PM ET ) Definately. No question. I recommend him to the Heisman voters!

zach (austin): if you were on the other side of the ball what position would it be?

Derrick Johnson: (3:34 PM ET ) I think I could play receiver!

Max (Pittsburgh, PA): If you didn\'t go to Teaxs where would you go?

Derrick Johnson: (3:35 PM ET ) Oklahoma.

Aron (Youngstown): Would you rather get a sack or INT in your first NFL game?

Derrick Johnson: (3:35 PM ET ) Interception!

Ray (Vegas): What do you think is the most important aspet of becomig a dominant defensive player and how is it accomplished?

Derrick Johnson: (3:36 PM ET ) You just have to realizse that everyone around you is just as big and fast. The edge is the mental part. You have to know everything about the guy in front of you.

Derrick Johnson: (3:37 PM ET ) Thanks for the questions and thanks for supporting me throughout my career! Watch on draft day for which team selects me and then start rooting for them! Take care!
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