A Look at the Linebackers of the 2009 Draft

russ autinCorrespondent IApril 7, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 23:  Linebacker Marcus Freeman of Ohio State runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 23, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Inside, outside, 4-3, 3-4, Sam, Will, or Mike, the 2009 National Football League draft class is hip deep in quality linebackers. For teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills or, the New Orleans Saints, who are attempting to improve this area, it may the best draft in years.

It's seems that Aaron Curry is the pick of the litter. If he's not gone by the third pick, someone should and, probably will be fired, but the pool is deep, so fear not, there's plenty to go around.

Any story about linebackers should start at the University of Southern California, where there's a triad of potential first rounders. Ray Maualuga , Brian Cushing and, Clay Mathews have become the media favorites, stealing the thunder of some of the other talented prospects.

No one can deny Larry English is a player with outstanding potential, his great speed and athleticism should have coaches salivating. He projects as a outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme and with a little work in the weight room and proper coaching he could be a force for years to come.

Talking about Everette Brown, well 13.5 sacks last year says it all. For any team playing a 3-4 scheme, this guy is a dream come true. A three down backer, able to play the run or pass. On passing plays he has a tremendous first step,and a number of polished moves. This guy has impact-player written all over him.

Perhaps Arron Maybin should have stayed in school, the talent level in this years draft, combined with his lack of experience will hurt his chances of being drafted in the top ten. Don't get me wrong, he has potential, but of the elite linebackers in this draft he is the least NFL ready, but may have the most up-side.

James Laurinaitis, unlike Maybin, should have come out early. Last year he could have been a top ten pick, this year he could slide to the second round. He is still an elite talent and will be a steal in the second round.

This years class is deeper still, with a number of solid players even when the players named above are gone. Here are two of my picks for the most under-rated players of the bunch, one outside, one inside, just for symmetry.

On the outside, Marcus Freeman. He really wowed scouts by running a 4.51 at Ohio State's pro-day. He is a sideline-to-sideline player with a nose for the football, who excels in coverage, displaying the ability to run with any tight end, or back in the league.

He could be the best value of the entire class if he slips to the third round, after all he is the fastest of the lot.

On the inside, Jason Phillips. If they where to make a movie of the children's book " The Little Engine That Could" he would be perfect for the leading part. He reminds me of Sam Mills, as a life long Saints fan, that's about the highest honor I can bestow upon a young linebacker.

His inability to preform at his pro-day due to a knee injury will hurt his draft status, but don't underestimate this kid, he will take someone's job in the NFL next year.

Five years from now, we could be talking about this being one of the best linebacker class ever.