2010 NFL Draft: Inside Linebacker Rankings
These draft rankings were originally featured here .
There doesn't appear to be as big of a need for inside linebackers in this draft as there is for outside linebackers, but there's no denying that this year's class is a group of fine spy-masters that have the ability to control the middle of the field.
They may go fairly unnoticed out of lack of a necessity, but don't be fooled, there are quite a few elite inside linebackers in the 2010 NFL Draft :
1. Rolando McClain (Alabama)
McClain rules this year's draft class for linebackers on the inside, possessing solid pass-rushing abilities, as well as quality coverage ability and instincts.
He doesn't have great speed, but he has elite size and build, and is a sure tackler. He has experience in and is perfect for a 3-4 system at the next level, although his questionable ability in a 4-3 may limit his versatility and overall value.
2. Brandon Spikes (Florida)
Spikes is a beast in the middle with great instincts and tackling ability, while also possessing solid pass-rushing ability.
He doesn't have the speed or natural ability to excel in pass coverage, although he's proven to be at least adequate in that department. Going into his final season at Florida, he was a hot prospect, however, his average 2009 saw his stock drop a bit.
He's regarded by many as either the second or third inside linebacker in this draft, but few look at him as a prospect that will last past the second round.
3. Daryl Washington (TCU)
Washington is a bit smaller than NFL scouts would like, but he has very good speed and athleticism for the next level, and is a fundamentally sound linebacker.
He has solid skills in pass-rushing and can get through the line in run support. His main knock will be his lack of elite competition, but his athleticism and versatility may be too good to ignore in the first two rounds.
4. Sean Lee (Penn State)
Lee is a bit under-hyped because of an ACL injury, but is a stout middle linebacker, and could excel with the right team in the middle of a 3-4 system.
He doesn't have the speed or versatility to line up on the outside, and may have some issues in coverage. His natural instincts and abilities give him a first or second-round grade, and the only thing truly holding him back appears to be the concerns on his surgically repaired knee.
5. Darryl Sharpton (Miami)
Sharpton has good size and decent speed of the position, and managed to bounce back in his final year with Miami to show sound tackling, good decision-making, and an ability to pursue the runner and break through the offensive line to put pressure on the quarterback.
His main issues are inconsistency and staying healthy, as he's had a bit of an injury history prior to the 2009 season.
6. Pat Angerer (Iowa)
With good size and solid overall athleticism, Angerer appears to be the "real deal" on the inside, and projects as a quality 4-3 linebacker at the next level.
He's excellent at getting to ball carriers and stopping them dead in their tracks, as he proved by registering 135 tackles in 2009.
His pass-rushing is slightly in question, but he has all the fundamental tools to be a starter at the next level.
7. Jamar Chaney (Mississippi State)
Chaney has good size, speed, and versatility.
He has experience and had a solid 2009 campaign, but a sketchy injury history could keep him from being drafted where his actual value projects him at.
8. Micah Johnson (Kentucky)
Johnson is a major risk due to knee surgery this year, but did finish a strong 2009 season with 105 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss.
He's a quality tackler with good instincts, but is a bit bulky with less than ideal speed and quickness. How teams feel about his athleticism and durability will play into where he's ultimately selected.
9. Joe Pawelek (Baylor)
Pawelek has outstanding experience and has been a very productive linebacker in college, although his level of competition is a bit of a concern.
He has very good instincts in the middle of the field, and rarely lets a ball carrier get past him. He needs work in pass coverage, but his skills there aren't bad at all, as his six interceptions in 2009 prove.
10. Phillip Dillard (Nebraska)
Dillard has some experience and durability issues, but has the tools to be a solid player in the middle of the right scheme.
He excels in run support and takes excellent angles in getting through the line, although he's probably better suited to play close to the line, rather than being used for blitzing.
He probably doesn't have the speed or athleticism NFL GM's are looking for in order for his name to be called before the fourth round.
Honorable Mention: Kion Wilson, Boris Lee, Reggie Carter, Josh Hull, Donald Butler
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