NFL Draft Prospects: MLB

Niners NationaThis post might seem pointless at first since the Rams are covered here.  Oh boy are the covered here!  (Anyone else excited at the thought that we have James Lauranitis for several more years, I'm giddy!)  But its not really pointless, because the OLB market is a bit thin.  So what to do?  Well insert a true MLB into an OLB role or a player whose borderline.  

To me its not as bad as putting a defensive end in a defensive tackle or vice-versa (I'm looking at you Adam Carikker).  In fact, one could argue its easier to transition from MLB to OLB.  His responsibilities lessen and especially with the benefit of a good MLB by your side, you just get to play.  

All middle linebackers were chosen/not chosen based on what position they are according to Walter Football.  I trust their draft knowledge considerably more than Hair and Todd McDouche.

                                    1. Rolando McClain, Alabama Crimson Tide



Why He Belongs Here: prototypical size and good top end speed, durable, leader of defense at Alabama, good instincts, good upper body strength, sound form tackler, powerful pass rusher

Why He Doesn't Belong Here: plays too high at times, lacks ideal range, could use hands better, doesn't have elite ball handling skills

Upside: When the only "weaknesses" you can find are because he's not elite in one area.... well that's just nitpicking in my opinion and is the prime person you take in the first round

Projected Round - Top 20

                                                    2. Brandon Spikes, Florida Gators



Why He Belongs Here: excellent combination of weight and height, leader of FU defense, very instinctive, good recognition skills, sound tackler

Why He Doesn't Belong: not a great athlete, lacks elite range, doesn't display good change of direction skills, leaves feet too often to tackle

Upside: He's considered only a 3-4 linebacker... as a middle linebacker... not sure how well he would be as an oustide linebacker, but its clear his MLB skills are not valued highly as they were last year

Projected Round - 2nd-3rd round

                                                3. Sean Lee, Penn State



Why He Belongs Here: above average top-end speed, hard worker, excellent football intelligence, good upper and lower body strength, consistent wrap-up tackler, good awareness

Why He Doesn't Belong: missed entire 2008 season because of ACL tear, range and closing burst are adaquate, liability in man coverage

Upside: He's a first round talent whose draft stock is significantly lower than it should be purely because of an injury.

Projected Round - 2nd-3rd round

                                              4. Patrick Angerer, Iowa Hawkeyes



Why He Belongs Here: strong work ethic, leader of IU defense, gets strong initial position, plays with high level of intensity, above average closing burst, top-notch awareness in coverage zone

Why He Doesn't Belong: questionable strength at point of attack, not an explosive tackler, takes questionable angles 

Upside: He could project well into a starter, but he probably won't become a playmaker

Projected Round - 3rd round

                              5. Jamer Chaney, Mississippi State Bulldogs



Why He Belongs Here: good bulk, solid awareness, very good overall range, excellent in zone coverage, can play sideline-to-sideline

Why He Doesn't Belong: suffered season-ending injury in 2008, must improve lower body strength, needs to improve tackling

Upside: His skill set is more potential-filled than immediate starter traits.  He hasn't completely proven himself yet, but there are signs he could improve much more

Projected Round - 3rd-4th round

                                        6. Donald Butler, Washington Huskies



Why He Belongs Here: very athletic, good bulk, good instincts, good closing speed, reliable tackler, hard worker, leader on Wash U

Why He Doesn't Belong Here: durability is a concern, lacks power in his game, can be engulfed by massive lineman

Upside: Butler doesn't stand out in this mix of 3rd roundish prospects so its hard to pinpoint what his potential would be, but if I had to guess, it'd be starter potential

Projected Round - 4th round

                              7. Phillip Dillard, Nebraska Cornhuskers



Why He Belongs Here: good size and top-end speed, experienced, good instincts, uses hand to jolt free of lineman, tough

Why He Doesn't Belong: struggles to make open field tackles, struggled with injuries throughout college career, not  a great athlete

Upside: He's probably a Day 2 talent level player but injuries force him into the 4th or 5th round

Projected Round - 4th-5th round

                                    8. Darryl Sharpton, Miami Hurricanes



Why He Belongs Here: high motor, good work ethic, tough, physical player, energetic pass rusher, can cover lots of ground in coverage

Why He Doesn't Belong: durability concerns, undersized, undisciplined, doesn't locate ball quickly, takes poor angles 

Upside: He has a boatload of issues that will need fixing in the NFL, all of which I doubt will be taken care of

Projected Round - 5th-6th round

                              9. Travis Goethel, Arizona State Sun Devils



Why He Belongs Here: very good instincts, good strength, secure tackler, durable, great competitor, good hands to make interception

Why He Doesn't Belong: his speed is unspectacular to say the least, not a great athlete, takes time to get going after contact

Upside: There are three strikes in a player: size, speed, and atheticism.  Size is probably the one most linebackers can get away with, speed is acceptable, and athleticism makes it possible.  But he lacks in two of those areas which could cause the team that drafted him to strike out.

Projected Round - 5th-6th round

                                10. Kion Wilson, South Florida Bulldogs


Why He Belongs Here: leader on a very talented SF defense, shows signs of being a strong run stopper, good size and bulk

Why He Doesn't Belong: lacks fluidity, struggles to take blocks on inside, showcases good range, doesn't have great instincts

Upside: He seems like a good player to add but he's more likely to become a solid special teams addition than a starter

Projected Round - 5th-6th round

11. Josh Hull, Penn State Nitanny Lions

Summary - Hull was the other linebacker in Penn State's amazing unit (Navarro Bowman, Lee), but he was the team's leading tackler.  He's got great size, but his speed is less than ideal for a linebacker

Projected Round - 6th round

12. Joe Pawelek, Baylor Bears

Summary - He's been at Baylor forever: he recorded 86 tackles..... as a freshman, as a sophomore, the team captain.  He's size is good as well, but his speed needed to be higher.

Projected Round - 6th round

13. Reggie Carter, UCLA Bruins

Summary - He also got an early start as he was Freshmen All-American.  He has good size, decent top-end speed, but durability is a concern heading into the draft.

Projected Round - 6th round

14. Micah Johnson, Kentucky Wildcats

Summary - He hasn't been starting as long as Carter or Pawelek, but has just about as much playing time experience.  His 40 time is extremely slow and he had a knee injury missing bowl game

7th round prospects

15. Matt McLaughlin, Boston College Eagles - McLaughlin is a very good and powerful tackler, but his lack of range in coverage will keep him from ever being a starter

16. Boris Lee, Troy Trojans - He has good range and athletic ability, but struggles to get past blockers effectively and consistently

17. Ryan D'Imperio, Rutgers Scarlet Knights - He is a hard worker, but lacks athleticism and range to be an effective NFL linebacker

18. Reed Williams, West Virginia Mountaineers - I'll quote the National Football post on this one  - "Williams has a tendency to disappear in the run game, and he lacks the fluidity to be much of a factor against the pass in the NFL" - not good

Undrafted possibilities

19. Alex Joseph, Temple Owls - He's sort of an unkown at this point, but he has good size and top-end and for some GMs, that's all it may take

20. Vincent Rey, Duke Blue Devils - He's extremely experienced, but his speed is not up to par with NFL standards

21. Ryan Reynolds, Oklahoma Sooners - Reynolds' career has been defined by injuries and not by his performance

22. Clinton Synder, Stanford Cardinals - Here's another guy whose draft stock is weak because of his 40 time, but his size is excellent

23. Prince Hall, Central Washington Wildcats - He's in the stay-away zone: his off the field issues are too numerous to count and completely overshadow his actual talent

I should post cornerback by Sunday and safety by Tuesday.  Sorry I'm not posting a kicker/punter edition (groans).  But I will have the mock draft in before the draft which will also be my TST official mock draft 

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