The Rams have some clear needs at key positions as they head into the draft. What are those needs and what are some potential names who could emerge as the next generation of players anchoring a brand new Rams team? I thought it would be useful to run down some key names ahead of the combine at each position of need. Today, a quick overview - with links - of the top MLB prospects in the draft.
Aaron Curry, Wake Forest, 6'3", 241 lbs
Curry's a first rounder, and probably the top LB in the draft. There are a few mock drafts out there that even project the Rams to take him with the #2 pick. It's more likely that they'd have to trade down to get him, but for now, he's a top 10 pick. Here's an overview at Mocking the Draft. The scouting report at Walter Football puts him as a strongside LB in a 4-3 and middle LB in a 3-4, which probably doesn't make him the best fit for the Rams.
Rey Maualuga, USC, 6'3", 254 lbs
We've talked about Maualuga here in the wake of his strong showing at the Senior Bowl. He's probably the best pure MLB for a 4-3 (or a 3-4) in the draft. There are questions about his ability in coverage, and this scouting report wonders if he's not slightly hyped.
James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, 6'3", 243 lbs
Walter Football calls him the "top pure 4-3 inside linebacker" in the 2009 draft. He's a likely a top 15-20 pick, meaning a trade down if the Rams really fancied him anchoring their middle for years to come.
From here, the rankings get a little confusing as so many draftniks use the ILB definition from a 3-4 defense. As you can see from these lists at Walter Football and Mocking the Draft, the next tier of LBs ranked are a little small to play MLB in a 4-3. It's worth remembering Beckwith, Ellerbe and Phillips to see how they check out at the combine and what they weigh in at.
A couple more names to keep an eye on, could be potential middle round steals.
Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina, 6'2", 257 lbs
You want size, this guy has it. This scouting report says he could be a ready-made starter in the NFL, capable of "dropping running backs in their tracks."
Scott McKillop, Pitt, 6'2", 240 lbs
A little on the small side, but he's smart, a good tackler and a "blue collar" player that could be a real hit with fans who've watched their team play at something less than perfect lately. Here's a report that predicts he could go in the 2nd round, but might not have the size for a 4-3 scheme.
Daniel Holtzclaw, Eastern Michigan, 6'1", 245 lbs
This guy could be a mid-round steal. Voted a second team All American, he had more than 230 tackles over the last two seasons. Add some bulk, and he could be a real find for the middle.
That's a look at some of the top MLB prospects and some potential picks for the mid-rounds. This draft has been called a good one for linebackers, so I'm sure there's a few more we're missing here. Help me fill this list out.
Don't forget our draft project. Take a prospect you think could help the Rams and write him up, whatever you want to say about him. Tackle Box got us started with DE Larry English.