When thinking about inside linebackers, Jerry Franklin isn't the first one that comes to mind. He played for a big program at Arkansas that was known more for their high-powered aerial offense than their defense. Franklin signed as an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos April 28.
The 6'1", 242-pound prospect from Marion, Arkansas, has the ideal body size to play inside linebacker in a 4-3 defense in the NFL. He logged 101 tackles his senior year, including 46 solo tackles to help the Razorbacks win a BCS bowl and finish the season ranked No. 5 in the country. This was the fourth straight year Franklin led the team in total tackles.
Franklin looked particularly good against Kansas State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, where he had eight tackles to help the Razorbacks end a season of ups and downs on a high note.
Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller had Franklin as a fourth-round prospect. Franklin showed consistency throughout the year and was the leader of a very good SEC defense that held opponents to 22.2 points and 371.42 yards per game.
According to the University of Arkansas athletic site, Franklin ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash during his pro day. He also had 15 reps on the bench press, a 4.33-second shuttle run, 6.9-second 3-cone drill, a 10'3" broad jump, and a 37.5" vertical.
Positives: Has a wide trunk and thickly-built frame with good enough length (33 1/4-inch arms). Strong and stout against the run, filling lanes with power and an attacking mentality. Big, aggressive hitter who can lay the wood. Has good awareness to quickly locate the ball, keeping his eyes up and on point. Has good balance and short-area burst to stay on his feet through contact. An opportunistic defender, tallying five interceptions and four fumble recoveries with two defensive TDs. Started 50 games the past four seasons with 376 career tackles.
Negatives: Very average athletically with limited explosive qualities and lateral range to the sideline. Lacks functional strength to shed and take on blocks at the point of attack. Lacks fluidity to hold up in space or drop in coverage. Washed out and caught in traffic in the middle of the field. Questionable instincts and recognition skills with inconsistent reads, easily biting on fakes. Hits up high and misses more tackles than he should