I want to create a fan post focusing on the linebacker position, in this year’s upcoming NFL Draft. Unless you have been living under a bus, you should know that this is a position of major concern. We basically had a merry-go-round of linebacker starters last season.
First off, what we know we have. We have DeAndre Levy in the middle. The man battled injuries most of the season. But he was a key player in the Lions four game winning streak, with 34 tackles and two very big interceptions during the streak. The man is solid in the middle. And we also have Ashlee Palmer. Pretty solid in his start against Minnesota, had six tackles. But I see him more for depth, than a true starter. For the most part. The rest of the Lion’s linebackers are either free agents or soon to be released.
The Draft: Despite some talk that this year’s draft has a weak linebacker group. I feel that there are some very good prospects in this group.
Leading the group is Texas A&M’s Von Miller. A 6’3 235lb OLB that primarily played a "joker" role in the Aggies’ 3-4 schemes. But don’t let that the fact his comes from a 3-4 defense, that he is not a fit for the Lions. The guy is lights out. Has the skill set and football intelligence to play in any scheme. Just watch the Senior Bowl. With only a few weeks of practice, Miller adopted his game to the 4-3 scheme. He showed why he is at the top of every teams draft board. If Von can do what he did with a few weeks of practice. Imagine what he could do with an entire training camp and pre-season, working with Schwartz, The Gun and Burke.
Next Akeem Ayers, 6’4 255lb OLB UCLA. Ayers is a very good athlete. Shows very good coverage skills. Good overall football instincts. Some question marks on his overall motor and football IQ. Both Von Miller and Akeem Ayers will be a 1st round draft choice. While I would love to see Miller in a Lion’s jersey. I am not yet sold on Ayers. I question his overall strength, and his problems with shedding blocks. A good combine from him. Could be enough to get me excited for the Lions to draft him. As we all know, I have a great influence on Mayhew.
Bruce Carter 6’3 235lb OLB UNC. Would have been a top 15th pick if not for a torn ACL in his knee. Some questions whether he will be available to play in 2011. Might not be 100% until the end of the season. But is definitely worth a 2nd round pick.
Martez Wilson 6’4 250lb ILB Illinois. Martez is big, strong, and quick. He can play in the middle and on the outside. Show the intangibles that will make him a very good NFL linebacker.
Quad Sturdivant 6’2 230lb OLB UNC. A teammate of Bruce Carter. This guy is a aggressive run stopper. Fires off the ball and sometimes launches himself at the ball carrier. Shows some good zone coverage skills as well. Could be a steal in the 3rd round.
Greg Jones 6’0 240lb OLB MSU. A natural linebacker. An instinctive run stopper, and solid in covrage. Lacks the overall quickness to get to the edge. Some experts say his size could drop him into the 3rd round.
Jones' interview (note: could not find a highlight vid)
The next of my best
Mark Herzlich 6’4 250lb ILB Boston College. Projected a late 2nd to 3rd round pick Highlights
Kelvin Sheppard 6’2 250lb ILB LSU. Projected a late 3rd to a 4th round pick Highlights
K.J. Wright 6’3 246ILB Miss St. Projected a 3rd round pick (no highlights)
Mason Foster 6’1 240 OLB Wash. Projected a 3rd round pick Highlights (note: Foster is #40)
Casey Matthews 6’1 232lb OLB Ore. Projected as a late 3rd to a 4th round pick Hightlights
Thomas Keiser 6’5 244lb OLB Stanford. Projected as a 4th round pick (no highlights)
Jonas Mouton 6’2 240lb OLB Mich. Projected as a late 5th to a 6th round pick Highlights
Mike Mohamed 6’3 241 OLB Cal. Projected as a 6th round pick Highlights
Some players to mention that might not be drafted. Nick Bellore CMU. Chris White Miss St. Scott Lutrus UConn. Kendall Smith FSU.
My personnel favorites of this draft are Miller, Sturdivant, and Foster. Matthews looks like he does have some great instincts along with Greg Jones. If the Lions can add one or a couple of these guys. Along with resigning Bobby Carpenter. This could be a great young unit.
And I will leave you with a LIONS VID