At a tall 6' 3" and weighing in at 237 pounds, Justin Springer has the size and the potential for physical growth NFL scouts look for in an inside linebacker.
Georgia Tech's relentless rushing attack provided a rare opportunity for Springer to pile up a career game, but it still takes a great football player to stack up 15 tackles (three for loss and one sack) against an offense and an overall team as quality as the Yellow Jackets.
Big games on big stages are what it will take to put Springer on the NFL map.
But how does he stack up to other potential draftees?
In comparison to last year's draft, Springer matches up nicely with a number of different inside prospects.
In terms of size and speed, Springer is probably somewhere in between fourth-rounders Roddrick Muckelroy (Texas) and A.J. Edds (Iowa). He plays faster than his times will show and, while he lacks elite pop, his instincts and downhill mentality get him into the action all over the football field.
Springer probably fits most realistically in the Travis Goethel (ASU, 7th round) mold. He's not quite as athletic overall, but has the better frame for potential growth.
The Kansas senior fits in remarkably well from a physical standpoint with several potential 2011 draftees. Obi Ezeh (Michigan), Brian Smith (ND) and Mike Mohammed (Cal) are all in the 6' 3", 240 pound range. Each is probably a touch faster than Springer, but most of all each has put out statistics far more notable than Springer's in previous seasons.
This being said, if Springer can keep up this production (breaking into triple digit tackles, around 10 tackles for a loss and swatting down the occasional pass), it will be hard to ignore him.
Springer is not your average Big 12 case of an athletically sub-par, instinctive inside linebacker (a.k.a. former Buffalo Jeff Smart and Cyclone Jesse Smith) on a bad defense. Springer is an athlete with a chance to spearhead a decent defense.
If Springer does in fact lead the Kansas defense and the team to anything above mediocrity, he's sure to catch the NFL's eye.
While I'm not big on predictions of this sort, if I had to guess (for fun) I'd say I can easily imagine him going in the middle of the sixth round with a maximum of the early fifth round and the obvious possibility of going undrafted.
The best thing Springer can do is to keep piling up the stats, keep his team playing well and, as an added bonus, an extra game on national television in late December wouldn't hurt either.
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