NFL Draft 2011: Von Miller Headlines Top 10 Linebackers in the Draft
One of the strongest positions in this year's NFL draft is linebacker. There are plenty of great prospects that have what it takes to impact a team in its rookie season.
Linebacker is a position in which you need it all. You have to be tough, fast, strong and fearless. Dominant players at this position are usually the heart and soul of their defense.
The players on this list have what it takes to become a "someone" like that in the NFL.
These are the top 10 linebacker prospects in the 2011 NFL draft.
10. Quan Sturdivant (North Carolina)
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Sturdivant is one of the most steady and consistent linebackers in the draft. He isn’t the most physically talented of the group, but he is always in the right spot.
At the combine, Sturdivant ran a 4.63 40-yard dash and knocked out 21 reps on the bench press. Neither of those scores are red flags, but they are not exactly eye-catching statistics either.
Sturdivant has what it takes to be a very reliable outside linebacker in the NFL. He is very consistent and, if he can stay healthy, will stick around for many seasons.
9. Chris Carter (Fresno State)
Chris Carter played defensive end in college but will look to be a pass rushing 3-4 linebacker in the NFL.
Anytime you draft a player changing his position, you are taking a risk. While Carter has the instincts of an end, he looks like a linebackers.
At the combine, he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash and benched a very solid 27 reps.
Standing 6’1", 248 pounds with freakishly long arms, Carter has the ideal body to be a great pass rusher. Now he just needs to develop into the player he has the potential to be.
8. Brooks Reed (Arizona)
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Brooks Reed is a really tough player to judge at this point. He was one of the best pass rushers at defense in college football last season, but he will probably be forced to move to linebacker in the NFL.
Reed is as tough—and gives as much of an effort as anyone else—in the draft, but he lacks some of the talent as his fellow linebacker prospects.
He is a smart player and is known for having big hits. Unfortunately for Reed, he struggled against good opponents and isn’t the best at stopping the run.
There are a lot of red flags for Reed. I probably wouldn’t take a chance on him until late in the second round or early third.
7. Dontay Moch (Nevada)
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Dontay Moch might be the biggest freak in the draft. He stands 6’2”, 230 pounds and runs an unbelievable 4.40 40-yard dash.
Moch is the kind of player that every defense would love to have. He is big, fast, strong and plays with bad attitude. In college, he played mostly defensive end but dropped back into the linebacker position on occasion.
I see Moch as a Terrell Suggs-like player in the NFL. Some plays he will be down at the defensive line, while other plays he will be at linebacker.
This guy is too good of an athlete to let go. If he can develop, he has what it takes to be a superstar in the NFL.
6. Sam Acho (Texas)
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Any coach in the NFL would love to have someone like Sam Acho. He has a great reputation of working as hard as anyone in the weight room and during film sessions, and he is an academic All-American.
Acho is not an overwhelming physical talent, standing 6’2" and 257 pounds. He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash and did 23 reps on the bench press.
Like many of the other players on this list, he is one of those linebacker/defensive end combo players. However, unlike Reed, I see Acho being a safer pick.
He is great at escaping blockers and is an extremely reliable tackler.
5. Bruce Carter (North Carolina)
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Carter would have probably found himself a lot higher on this list if it were not for the ACL surgery he suffered in December.
He is one of the most versatile linebackers in the draft. He is a stud defending the pass, stopping the run and on the special teams.
Prior to his surgery in December, he had the reputation of being a workout legend. He reportedly has run a 4.39 40-yard dash, benched 440 pounds, squatted 650 pounds and has a vertical of 40.5.”
If these gaudy numbers are true, then Carter is someone who can not be overlooked. If Carter heals from his injury, then you are looking at a superstar in the making.
4. Justin Houston (Georgia)
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Houston is different from most of the other defensive end/linebacker combos in the draft, because he has already played both positions consistently in college. At Georgia, he developed into one of the most feared pass rushers in the SEC.
Houston is absolutely massive, standing 6’3" and 270 pounds. That frame is also quick enough to run a 4.62 40-yard dash, and he benched an impressive 30 reps at the combine.
Reportedly, Houston is dropping weight before he makes his transition into the NFL to be more prepared to play linebacker. He should be successful at that position.
He is a great tackler and has great upper body strength to fight off blockers.
3. Akeem Ayers (UCLA)
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Akeem Ayers had one of the most disappointing combines in the whole draft, but teams shouldn’t overlook him for it.
He ran a pitiful 4.80 40-yard dash and benched a measly 18 reps.
Ayers can play both defensive end and linebacker, and he has the ability to take over games at both positions. He is extremely explosive off the line and has a knack for creating turnovers.
He can get overaggressive at times, but he can also make game changing plays. I would be shocked and appalled if Ayers went any later than the first round.
2. Martez Wilson (Illinois)
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Martez Wilson is one of the most under-hyped and underrated players in the draft. Physically, he jumps off the page at you.
He ran an inside linebacker best 4.42 40-yard dash and had 23 reps on the bench press, third out of all middle linebackers. However, Wilson is more than just a combine superstar.
Wilson is the type of linebacker that you can build your defense around. He can make any tackle on the field and can make huge hits.
In 2010 for Illinois, Wilson was one of the leading tacklers in the nation and put the Illinois defense on his back.
1. Von Miller (Texas A&M)
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Von Miller looks scary good. He is 6’3”, 246 pounds and runs a 4.42 40-yard dash. He looks every bit the making of an instant superstar in the NFL.
Along with being a great player, Miller also has the reputation of being an extremely hard worker off the field. The combination of his personality and his talent makes him someone impossible to pass up.
The strongest aspect of Miller’s game is his ability to rush the passer. He recorded 28 sacks in his last two seasons at Texas A&M.
Last season, Miller was given the Dick Butkus award for being the best linebacker in the nation.
Expect Miller to be one of the top five picks of the draft. He is one of the best players available this season.