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2009 NFL Draft: Linebackers Who May Fill a Void

JW NixSenior Writer IIMarch 20, 2009

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Rey Maualuga #58 of the USC Trojans yells during the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 95th Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi on January 1, 2009 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Moise Fokou, OLB, 6'1" 233, Maryland 

Raw and inexperienced, but very athletic. Has excellent speed, but needs to add muscle and strength throughout his body. Very good in special teams. Might not get drafted.


James Laurinaitis, MLB, 6'2" 244, Ohio State

Won the Nagurski and Lott Awards, as well as the Butkus twice. Excellent athlete with special instincts. Rarely is fooled or caught out of position. Hits hard and is adept in pass coverage.

Few chinks in his armor. Needs to get stronger in his upper body, which should happen as he matures. More steady than spectacular. A first-round draft pick.


Clint Sintim, OLB, 6'3" 256, Virginia

Very strong with long arms and good speed. Hustles, and has the ability to be a pass rushing DE. Built for a OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Not experienced in pass coverage. Needs to improve his hand play. A possible first-day selection.


Stanley Arnoux, LB, 6'0" 232, Wake Forest 

Short, but a good pass defender. Not very instinctive, but has decent athleticism. Might have to make his bones on special teams while learning his position. Late rounds type of pick.


Jonathan Casillas, LB, 6'1" 228, Wisconsin 

Excellent speed and very quick. Might be moved to SS. Good cover skills and has long arms. Could help on special teams. Had knee surgery a few months ago. Could go anywhere from the mid-rounds on.


Zach Follett, OLB, 6'2" 236, Cal

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Has good speed and throws his body around. Good blitzer coming off the edge, but must improve his reads and tackling technique. Not very good in pass defense. Made for a 3-4 defense. Will get a look from the mid-rounds on.


Dannell Ellerbe, LB, 6'1" 236, Georgia 

Big hitter who has experience at all three LB spots. Quick, fast, and has good instincts. Very good in pass coverage, but might be too small to play inside. Probably will help someones special teams. A second-day-draft-pick type.


Aaron Curry, 6'2" 254, Georgia Tech

The Butkus Award winner will be the first LB drafted. Has long arms and comes off the edge hard with speed. Read and reacts well, and keeps his responsibilities. Can pick off passes with ease, as well as get to the QB. Needs to improve his tackling technique.


DeAndre Levy, OLB, 6'2" 236, Wisconsin

A SLB with good speed. Good against the run, but not versus the pass. Needs to improve his hand play. Should be able to help on special teams. Could get picked on the second day of the draft.


Anthony Felder, ILB, 6'2" 233, Cal 

Smart and strong player with good instincts. Not fast, but tough, and has played throughout an injury plagued collegiate career. Could help on special teams and provide depth. A second-day prospect.


Lee Robinson, OLB, 6'2" 249, Alcorn State 

May be a SLB or MLB. Very strong and has good speed. Uses his hands well. Shows leadership qualities. Not good in pass coverage. Must improve his tackling technique. A possible first day draft selection.


Morris Wooten, LB, 6' 237, Arizona State 

Strong and a good pass rusher off the edge. Big hitter, but can be too aggressive. Needs to improve his pass defending skills, and tackling technique. Will get looked at on the drafts second day.


Jason Phillips, ILB, 6'1" 239, TCU 

A 3-4 type of MLB who plays with toughness and good instinct. Not particularly quick, and can over run plays due to his aggressive attitude. Has decent pass coverage skills, but not fast enough to make up ground. Will make tackles, but tends to drag down most ball carriers.

Needs to learn to play within his responsibilities better. Will get looks on the drafts second day by teams that employ the 3-4 scheme.


Rey Maualuga, ILB, 6'2" 249, USC 

Big play maker with good speed. A tackling machine who provides the big hit. Very good in pass coverage. Smart and instinctive. Can be too aggressive, which leads to going for too many kill shots and over running plays, instead of making the tackle and staying within his responsibilities.

A first-round draft pick.


Kaluka Maiava, OLB, 5'11" 229, USC 

Has good instincts and agility. Decent in pass coverage. Does not shed blockers well. A very good special teams player, so that is where he will have to stick on a roster initially. May not get drafted.


Marcus Freeman, OLB, 6' 239, Ohio State

Good athlete with above average speed. Reads his responsibilities well, and is a solid pass defender. Very injury prone in college, and will have to stick in the NFL via special teams. May not get drafted.


Worrell Williams, LB, 5'11" 240, California

His brother, D.J, plays with Denver. Has the athleticism needed to play in the NFL. Big hitter who has played all LB positions, and is an above average blitzer. Has very good speed, but can be too aggressive.

Has not shown good instincts or consistency as of yet, and his lack of height may have him best suited for ILB in a 3-4 scheme. Could help on special teams at the least. Will be looked at in the second day.


Mortty Ivy, OLB, 6'1" 248, West Virginia 

Strong player who supports the run well. Good tackler who is decent in pass coverage. Hustles non stop and will try to contribute on special teams. May best be suited at MLB. Does not have great hands, and needs to improve his hand play. May get drafted late.


Gerald McRath, OLB, 6'2" 231, Southern Mississippi 

Tackling machine with excellent instincts. Has good speed and is rarely caught out of position. Not an explosive hitter. Needs to gain more weight and get stronger. Needs to improve his pass coverage. Came out a year early, so is a little bit of a project. Raw, but ascending talent. Could be picked in the second day.


Darry Beckwith, LB, 6' 242, LSU

Run stopping type who has played MLB and WLB. Works well in crowds, but struggles to get off blocks and gets cut easily. Needs improvement on pass protection, and is not a great blitzer.

Team player type who can provide depth and play special teams. Might get drafted in late rounds.


Jasper Brinkley, MLB, 6'2" 252, South Carolina 

Big hitter with big power. A tackling machine who has above average blitz ability. Not very instinctive, and is still recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him most of 2007.

Needs to work on his hand technique more. May be picked up late in the draft, because of his above average athleticism. Could be a sleeper if picked by the right team.

Clay Matthews III, OLB, 6'3" 240, USC

Son of NFL great Clay Jr, and the nephew of Hall Of Fame Guard Bruce. His grandfather Clay played for the 49ers in the 1950's. Very athletic. Excellent speed, and uses his hands well.

A top-notch special teams performer. Still raw, but has the ability to be special. Well schooled, despite only 10 career starts in college. Could end up being just like his dad in the NFL, which would benefit any team that drafts him.

Could be chosen anywhere from the first day on.


Scot McKillop, ILB, 6'1" 244, Pittsburgh 

Strong with excellent instincts. A field general who takes the right angles to the ball. Very good vision, stays within his responsibilities, and is decent in pass coverage. Is not fast, and isn't explosive. A sound player who will get looked at on the second day.


Cody Glenn, LB, 6'0'' 244, Nebraska 

Converted RB. Has good speed and arm length. Decent in pass coverage, but lacks instincts due to inexperience. Has had injury concerns in college. A special teams type who will have to make it there to play in the NFL. Might not be drafted.


Brian Cushing, ILB, 6'3" 243, USC 

Strong athlete who has played several positions on defense. Big hitter who thrives on contact. Intense and smart. Explodes into the ball, and is good on pass coverage. Has been very injury prone in college, so durability is a big issue. Teams will have to decide if he's worth a first or second round pick.


Josh Muaga, OLB, 6'1" 243, Nevada 

Good instincts and athleticism. Sound tackler who gives it full effort. Not very fast, so is not great in pass coverage. Could provide depth and special teams play. May not get drafted.


Tyronne McKenzie, OLB, 6'2" 243, South Florida 

Good at stopping the run from the strong side. Strong and holds his ground. Not good in pass coverage. Will have to prove himself on special teams to stick. May not get drafted.

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