LB Tahir Whitehead (Temple) - Round 5, Pick No. 138
After trading down in the fourth round and ultimately selecting Ronnell Lewis, the Detroit Lions traded into the early part of the fifth round to select Temple linebacker Tahir Whitehead. The Lions made a deal with the Minnesota Vikings to get Whitehead and gave up a fourth-round pick in 2013 in the process. The Lions also moved down four spots in the seventh round by swapping picks with the Vikings in order to complete the deal.
Isn't a real imposing kid, struggles vs. run game and isn't a real dynamic athlete. If he played lower it would give himself more of a chance to make a roster, but as of now looks like a free agent type linebacker as there isn't too much to get excited about.
Whitehead is a solid linebacker prospect who will not blow anyone away with his play, but he is serviceable and will be a good special teams player at the next level. He is a competitive defender who likes to work against the run but is even better at mauling tight ends and keeping them out of their routes. He doesn't do as well when covering his man downfield, and he has limited value on pass plays. He carries fifth- or sixth-round value.
Positives: Weak side linebacker prospect who has shown progress in his game the past two years. Gets depth on pass drops, remains disciplined with assignments and shows a closing burst to the action. Immediately alters his angle of attack, loses no momentum when he must change direction and can turn it on in a single step. Possesses good range, has the ability to go sideline to sideline and flashes suddenness on the field.
Negatives: Average instincts. Really does not make many plays on the ball in coverage. Adequate size yet struggles getting off blocks.
What he brings: Whitehead's an undersized outside linebacker that struggles in a phone booth. Where he brings best value is as a pass rusher off the edge with speed and quickness.
2008: 7 tackles
2009: 30 tackles, 1 FF
2010: 52 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT
2011: 67 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 FF
Outlook for 2012
Like Doug Hogue a year ago, it will take time for Whitehead to develop as a linebacker. Chances are he won't be in the rotation at the position during his rookie season, but he should be able to contribute on special teams.