Yardbarker
2012 Inside Linebacker Reports
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ILB

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Height: 6-2
Weight: 256
40: 4.8
Year: 5Sr

Manny Abreu

School: Rutgers
Position: ILB
Bio: Two-year starter used on the defensive line and at linebacker. Senior totals included 28 tackles/6 tackles for loss/3 sacks when he primarily lined up in a three-point stance. Posted 48 tackles and five tackles for loss the prior year.
Positive: Nice-sized college defender who's flashed skill the past two years. Plays with good lean, gets leverage on opponents and shows a burst of speed. Quick off the snap out of a three-point stance and can immediately alter his angle of attack or change direction. Easily redirects to plays, fluid moving in every area of the field and is a solid run defender. Aggressive in all aspects and wraps up when tackling.
Negative: Lacks top sideline-to-sideline range and is late getting to the flanks. Often taken from the action by a single blocker. Marginal speed in pursuit.
Analysis: Abreu has shown skill throughout his college career yet never really stood out in any aspect of the game. He possesses the size and playing style to line up at middle/inside linebacker and also comes with a special teams mentality.

Height: 6-1.5
Weight: 238
40: 4.67
Year: 4Sr

Emmanuel Acho

School: Texas
Position: ILB
Bio: Two-year starter awarded all-conference honors as a senior with totals of 129 tackles/19 tackles for loss/3 sacks. Junior numbers included 87/12/3. Multiple all-academic selections.
Positive: Efficient, intelligent defender with a tremendous head for the game. Quickly diagnoses the action, takes good angles to the play and is efficient. Uses his hands to protect himself, stays with assignments and consistently positions himself to make a play on the ball. Is a solid open-field tackler. Breaks down well, keeps his feet off the initial block and immediately makes his way to the ballcarrier. Gets depth on pass drops, slides off blocks and displays a great sense for what's happening on the field.
Negative: Lacks great foot speed and the ability to catch ballcarriers in pursuit. Not forceful up the field on the blitz. Lacks range in coverage
Analysis: Acho is a smart football player who makes up for his limited athleticism with intelligent play. He does the little things well and offers potential as a backup linebacker in a variety of defensive systems.

Height: 6-0.5
Weight: 235
40: 4.78
Year: 4Sr

Kadarron Anderson

School: Furman
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter awarded both All-American and all-conference honors since his sophomore season. Senior totals included 111 tackles/5.5 tackles for loss/2 sacks after he had 121 tackles the prior year. Posted a career-high 123 tackles as a sophomore.
Positive: Tough run-defending linebacker with marginal size/speed numbers for the next level. Remains disciplined with assignments, does not bite on play-action passes and is fluid moving in every direction of the field. Breaks down well, quickly fills gaps to defend the run and hustles to the action. Smooth changing direction, scrapes well laterally and rarely off his feet.
Negative: Lacks bulk and strength at the point of attack. Easily blocked from the action. Lacks top pursuit speed.
Analysis: Anderson was an incredibly productive run defender on the small school level and possesses the toughness and wherewithal to be a backup on the inside of a 34 alignment in the NFL. He also comes with a special teams mentality, which boosts his value.

Height: 6-1.5
Weight: 248
40: 5
Year: 3Jr

Vontaze Burfict

School: Arizona State
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter earned all-conference honors and named to several All-America teams in 2010. Junior totals included 69 tackles/7 tackles for loss/5 sacks after he had 90 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. Freshman totals included 69/7/2.
Positive: Forceful and game-impacting linebacker coming off a massively disappointing season. His play was streaky at best, as Burfict would either disappear for stretches or make numerous ill-advised plays. When he's on his game, he's a dominant playmaker who defeats blocks and gets up the field or behind the line. Shows the ability to go sideline to sideline, gets outside the numbers and covers a lot of area on the field. Plays with aggressiveness, can be a devastating hitter and goes for the knockout blow. Jolts blockers with tremendous hand punch. Scrapes well laterally, works to keep the action in front of him and wraps up when tackling.
Negative: Displays a lot of indecision in coverage. Does not play hard on every down. Called for bad penalties on multiple occasions in a single game. All too often complains to officials rather than worrying about making plays. Has off-the-field issues and work ethic is questioned. Performed terribly at the combine.
Analysis: Coming into the 2011 season, expectations were high for Burfict, who had displayed dominant skills the previous two years. He needs constant direction on and off the field and will need a lot of hand-holding and one-on-one coaching to be successful. He possesses the talent to be a productive defender, if not a Pro-Bowl player in the NFL. Offers a lot of upside but comes with a lot of risk.

Height: 6-4
Weight: 246
40: 4.76
Year: 5Sr

Audie Cole

School: North Carolina State
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter used at both middle and outside linebacker. North Carolina State's leading tackler the past three seasons, most recently totaling 108 tackles/13.5 tackles for loss/5.5 sacks as a senior. Junior totals included 97 tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss.
Positive: Efficient, instinctive linebacker who gets every ounce from his ability. Breaks down well, slides off blocks and plays with a nasty attitude. Stays with assignments, displays a terrific head for the ball and chases the action hard. Takes good angles to the action. Can bend off the edge if asked to blitz the quarterback.
Negative: Struggles in coverage situations and does not get depth on pass drops. Lacks quick change-of-direction ability, struggles to immediately alter his angle of attack and is slow getting out to the sidelines.
Analysis: Cole was productive at North Carolina State and is a tough run defender who is most effective in the box. He's a two-down defender for the next level who should also help out on special teams.

Height: 6-1
Weight: 245
40: 4.65
Year: 5Sr

Jerry Franklin

School: Arkansas
Position: ILB
Bio: Four-year starter awarded All-conference honors the past two years. Led Arkansas in tackles since his freshman season. Totals last year included 101 tackles/10 tackles for loss/.5 sacks with four pass breakups. Junior numbers included 100 tackles and 13 tackles for loss.
Positive: Athletic linebacker who displays skill in the open field. Plays with good awareness and covers a large area on the field. Flows well to the action, gets outside the box to make plays and has a burst of speed bearing down on the action. Effectively uses his hands to protect himself, remains disciplined with assignments and gets depth on pass drops. Fires up the field defending the run and gives effort to defeat blocks.
Negative: More of a drag-down tackler than a linebacker who stops ballcarriers in their tracks. Average skill in pursuit despite his 40 time.
Analysis: Franklin is a well-rounded linebacker with NFL-type physical skills. He could play a number of positions and could be an invaluable backup with the potential to eventually develop into a starter.

Height: 6-1.5
Weight: 241
40: 4.73
Year: 5Sr

Chris Galippo

School: USC
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter used at both outside and inside linebacker, in addition to being a key special teams performer. Senior totals included 47 tackles/3.5 tackles for loss/1.5 sacks with one interception and five pass breakups. Junior totals included 29/2/1. Posted a career-best 70 tackles as a sophomore.
Positive: Smart, tough college linebacker with limited upside for the next level. Instinctive, effectively diagnoses the action and remains disciplined with assignments. Efficient, takes good angles to plays and breaks down well. Flows to the actions and works hard to get to the ballcarrier. Flashes skill in zone coverage. Leader on the field who makes sure his teammates are in proper position.
Negative: Limited athlete who lacks speed in pursuit. Not fluid moving in reverse and gets turned in coverage.
Analysis: Galippo was productive and versatile for USC yet lacks the size and speed to be anything other than a backup in the NFL. He was productive on special teams for the Trojans, something which will help him at the next level.

Height: 6-0
Weight: 244
40: 4.57
Year: 4Sr

Najae Goode

School: West Virginia
Position: ILB
Bio: Two-year starter awarded all-conference honors as a senior after posting career-best numbers of 87 tackles/14 tackles for loss/5 sacks with an interception. Junior totals included 47/8.5/3.
Positive: Tough, in-the-box linebacker who is best defending the run. Instinctive, diagnoses the action and properly fills the correct holes in run defense. Remains disciplined with assignments, goes after ballcarriers and wraps up when tackling. Fluid changing direction, immediately locates the ball and effectively uses his hands to protect himself. Intense and delivers hard blows to opponents.
Negative: Lacks great speed in pursuit and is marginally effective out to the sidelines. Struggles getting off blocks times.
Analysis: Goode took his game to another level last season and went from free agent prospect to late round possibility. He's a solid run defender who would do well in a rotational system on the inside of a 34 alignment.

Height: 6-2.5
Weight: 265
40: 4.62
Year: 4Jr

Dont'a Hightower

School: Alabama
Position: ILB
Bio: All-conference selection the past two seasons and named to several All-American teams last year with totals of 81 tackles/9.5 tackles for loss/3 sacks. Also added one interception and broke up three more passes. 2010 totals included 69 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Started the first four games in 2009 before tearing the ACL in his left knee. Started 12 games as a true freshman in 2008 and posted 64 tackles.
Positive: Large, powerful run-defending linebacker who displays the ability to be a difference-maker. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself and is powerful at the point. Forceful up the field, defeats blocks on his way to the ballcarrier and is a tremendous open-field tackler. Easily brings down ballcarriers at the initial point of contact. Remains disciplined with assignments and does a solid job reading the action. Delivers devastating hits and is an intimidating force.
Negative: Does not always play with a great sense of urgency and seems like he's going half speed at times. Lacks top lateral speed and struggles cutting off the corners from ballcarriers. Does not possess a quick backpedal and can be a liability in one-on-one coverage situations.
Analysis: Hightower is a dominant run-defending linebacker who could play in the middle of a conventional defense or a 3-4 alignment. He possesses a great amount of upside and will produce at the next level if he focuses on the task at hand and plays in the proper system.

Height: 6-0.5
Weight: 249
40: 4.85
Year: 5Sr

D.J. Holt

School: California
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter who finished with 82 tackles/3 sacks/14 tackles for loss as a senior after posting junior totals of 85 tackles/2 sacks/7 tackles for loss.
Positive: Hardworking run defender with marginal upside for the next level. Tough yet remains disciplined with assignments and wraps up when tackling. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself and fires up the field in run defense. Works to keep the action in front of him. Makes the defensive calls and gets his teammates in proper position.
Negative: More of a two-down defender, lacks lateral speed and struggles getting out to the sidelines. Can be a liability in coverage. Minimal skills in pursuit.
Analysis: Holt was an effective college linebacker yet the lacks speed to be anything other than a two-down defender in the NFL. He could be a backup on the inside of a 34 alignment if he proves his worth on special teams.

Height: 6-2
Weight: 235
40: 4.85
Year: 4Sr

Austin Johnson

School: Tennessee
Position: ILB
Bio: Started 12 games as a senior, posting 81 tackles/1 tackles for loss/6 sacks and four interceptions. Totaled 44 tackles as a junior. Spent his first two years at fullback.
Positive: Tough run-defending linebacker who is best in the box. Keeps the action in front of him, plays with an aggressive attitude and remains disciplined with assignments. Breaks down well, stays on his feet and displays a good head for the ball. Gets depth on pass drops and shows awareness in zone coverage.
Negative: Struggles handling blocks. Lacks pursuit speed. Does not cover a lot of area on the field.
Analysis: Johnson displayed consistent improvement since moving to linebacker two years ago and could be an effective backup on the inside of a 3-4 alignment.

Height: 6-1
Weight: 241
40: 4.61
Year: 5Sr

James-Michael Johnson

School: Nevada
Position: ILB
Bio: Four-year starter awarded all-conference honors after his junior and senior campaigns. Totals last year included 100 tackles/2 sacks/7 tackles for loss after he had 88/3/9 the prior year.
Positive: Athletic linebacker with a solid game. Plays with good quickness, scrapes well laterally and defeats blocks to get to the action. Recognizes assignments, breaks down well and easily moves sideline to sideline to chase the action. Covers a lot of area on the field, possesses a quick first step to the play and has a closing burst. Effectively makes plays in the open field and shows a lot of skill in coverage.
Negative: Marginally instinctive, shows hesitation in his game and inefficient. Does not consistently take proper angles to the action. Easily disrupted by the first block.
Analysis: Johnson has been a consistent producer for the Nevada program and is a prospect who possesses a lot of upside for the next level. He offers starting potential in a variety of systems and could have a long NFL career if he improves his instincts.

Height: 6-1
Weight: 245
40: 4.8
Year: 5Sr

Noah Keller

School: Ohio
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter awarded all-conference honors since his sophomore season. Led Ohio in tackles as a senior, posting 115 tackles/8 tackles for loss/1 sacks with an interception and four pass breakups. Posted just 26 tackles in 2010, when he missed the majority of the season with foot and shoulder injuries. Junior totals included 155 tackles after he posted 104 as a sophomore.
Positive: Hardworking and instinctive run defender who is best making plays up the field. Displays a good head for the ball, slides off blocks laterally and attacks assignments. Collapses down the line to make plays, sells out on the blitz and takes good angles to the action. Wraps up tackling.
Negative: Lacks a quick and fluid backpedal in coverage. Marginal burst and speed in pursuit. Struggles handling tight ends or running backs in pass defense.
Analysis: Keller has limitations as an athlete yet his instincts and football intellect make up for the physical deficiencies. He's a two-down defender with a special teams mentality and Keller could be a reserve on the inside of a 3-4 defense.

Height: 6-3.5
Weight: 242
40: 4.58
Year: 3Jr

Luke Kuechly

School: Boston College
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter awarded All-American and all-conference honors since his freshman season. Named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and won both the Lombardi Award and Bronko Nagurski Award for his efforts in 2011. Junior totals included 191 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and three interceptions. Sophomore totals included 183 tackles. Posted 158 tackles as a true freshman.
Positive: Smart, instinctive linebacker with a sixth sense on the field. Incredibly instinctive, diagnoses plays as they unfold and displays a terrific head for the ball. Takes good angles to the action and wraps up when tackling. Scrapes well laterally, stays with the play and is constantly around the action. Works his hands to protect himself and effectively works to get off blocks. Remains disciplined with coverage assignments and always puts himself in a position to make plays on the ball.
Negative: Not smooth or quick pedaling in reverse. Lacks quick change-of-direction ability and struggles to immediately alter his angle of attack. Does not display great speed to the sidelines or the ability to chase the action down from behind.
Analysis: Kuechly was incredibly productive on the college level and one of the best run-defending linebackers in the nation the past three years. He offers immediate starting potential as a middle linebacker in a 43 alignment or on the inside of a 34 alignment.

Height: 6-2.5
Weight: 241
40: 4.85
Year: 4Sr

Josh Linam

School: Central Florida
Position: ILB
Bio: Senior totals included 66 tackles/10 tackles for loss/2 sacks after he had 78/9/1 as a junior. All-Academic selection the past two years.
Positive: Hardworking college linebacker with marginal athleticism for the next level. Disciplined, displays good instincts and flies around the field working to make positive plays. Stacks well against the run, wraps up when tackling and works through the whistle. Adequate change-of-direction ability.
Negative: Lacks speed in pursuit and cannot cut off the corners from running backs. Swallowed up by blocks on the inside. Limited burst to the action.
Analysis: Linam was a hardworking college player who stood out defending the run. He's a two-down defender who must make his mark on special teams this summer to maker a roster.

Height: 6-0.5
Weight: 244
40: 4.74
Year: 4Sr

Shawn Loiseau

School: Merrimack
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter awarded all-conference honors since his sophomore season and named to numerous All-American teams the past two years. Senior totals included 121 tackles/10.5 tackles for loss/4.5 sacks after he had 133/11.5/6 as a junior.
Positive: Tough-run defending linebacker who is best in the box. Breaks down well, plays with good knee bend and forces his way through blocks to get to the action. Remains disciplined with assignments, strong for his size and keeps his feet off blocks. Plays with a tough, aggressive attitude, sells out on the blitz yet also plays disciplined football. Strong for his size, wraps up tackling and brings ballcarriers down at the point of attack.
Negative: Lacks great lateral quickness and speed. Marginally effective in pursuit. Struggles in anything other than zone coverage.
Analysis: Loiseau was tremendously productive on the small school level and is a prospect who gets everything from his natural ability. He's a two-down defender who can be used at middle linebacker or on the inside of a 34 alignment. He also offers special teams ability for the next level.

Height: 6-1.5
Weight: 245
40: 4.82
Year: 4Sr

Caleb McSurdy

School: Montana
Position: ILB
Bio: Two-year starter awarded all-conference honors the past two years and named to numerous All-American squads as a senior. 2011 Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year with totals of 130 tackles/8.5 tackles for loss/4 sacks. Junior numbers included 112 tackles.
Positive: Smart football player who quickly diagnoses the action and rarely makes mental mistakes. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself and flows well to the action. Aggressive, consistent and hard hitting. Forceful up the field, efficient and keeps the action in front of him. Takes good angles to plays and consistently wraps up when tackling. Remains disciplined with assignments. Flashes skill in zone coverage.
Negative: Lacks overall quickness in his game. Lacks speed in pursuit or out to the sidelines.
Analysis: McSurdy was incredibly productive the past two seasons and displayed great development in his game. He's a two-down defender for the next level who could eventually develop into a starter at inside linebacker in a 34 alignment. He also plays with a special teams mentality, which increases his value.

Height: 6-0.5
Weight: 241
40: 4.75
Year: 4Sr

Steven Sylvester

School: Georgia Tech
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter who totaled 43 tackles/5 tackles for loss/1 sack as a senior after posting 68/10.5/3 the prior year.
Positive: Hardworking college linebacker who displays skill in space. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands to protect himself and fluid moving about the field. Displays tremendous quickness in his game, immediately alters his angle of attack and loses no momentum changing direction. Fluid moving in reverse and displays skill in zone coverage.
Negative: Easily disrupted by blocks. Not a strong open field tackler. Gets handled by tight ends. Average speed in backside pursuit.
Analysis: Sylvester was productive and durable on the college level yet lacks the top physical skills to play in the NFL. He may ultimately be tried on the inside of a 34 alignment, but he must prove his worth on special teams to have a place in the NFL.

Height: 6-0.5
Weight: 234
40: 4.75
Year: 5Sr

Aaron Taliaferro

School: Virginia
Position: ILB
Bio: Two-year starter who totaled 50 tackles/6 tackles for loss/1 sacks as a senior after posting 36 tackles as a junior.
Positive: Small yet fiery linebacker who is fluid moving in every direction of the field. Breaks down well, is quick-footed and displays a burst of speed from every angle. Aggressive, hard-hitting and disciplined with assignments. Shows skill playing in space, possesses adequate cover skills and stacks well against the run. Quickly fills gaps up the field and attacks ballcarriers.
Negative: Lacks top foot speed and struggles cutting off the corners from running backs. Overmatched by tight ends. Marginally productive in college.
Analysis: Taliaferro has displayed a lot of improvement on the field the past two seasons and could be an inexpensive backup at a number of linebacker positions.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 232
40: 4.75
Year: 5Sr

Jeff Thomas

School: Indiana
Position: ILB
Bio: Two-year starter who led Indiana in tackles last season with 80 tackles/10.5 tackles for loss/1 sack. Junior totals included 82 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions.
Positive: Instinctive college linebacker who plays hard sideline to sideline. Breaks down well, gets his hands up to protect himself and remains disciplined with assignments. Displays a good head for the ball, correctly reads the action and effectively quarterbacks the defense. Competitive, hardworking and wraps up when tackling.
Negative: Neither quick nor smooth pedaling in reverse. Marginal skills in coverage. Rather easily caught up in the wash for a well-sized linebacker.
Analysis: Thomas is a tough and smart linebacker who is best defending the run. He comes with a special teams mentality and should be an effective backup at the next level on the inside of a 34 alignment.

Height: 6-0.5
Weight: 243
40: 4.82
Year: 5Sr

Jake Trantin

School: William & Mary
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter at linebacker. Numbers last season included 84 tackles/4.5 tackles for loss/1.5 sacks. Missed the 2010 season personal issues. All-conference selection in 2009, when he led the team with 90 tackles.
Positive: Tough run-defending linebacker who is best in the box. Displays a good head for the ball, squares into ballcarriers and wraps up when tackling. Smart, effectively diagnoses the action and remains disciplined with assignments. Quarterbacks the defense and stays with the action.
Negative: Possesses limited speed and quickness in his game. Lacks the ability to quickly change direction or immediately alter his angle of attack. Struggles getting off blocks.
Analysis: Trantin is a an adequate run-defending linebacker with marginal upside. He's only possibility would be backing up at inside linebacker in a 34 alignment.

Height: 6-2.5
Weight: 237
40: 4.75
Year: 5Sr

Garrick Williams

School: Texas A&M
Position: ILB
Bio: Three-year starter who struggled with an ankle injury last season and finished with just 38 tackles in five starts. Junior totals included 112 tackles after he had 74 as a sophomore.
Positive: Underrated linebacker who is best defending the run. Plays a physical game, quick up the field and attacks ballcarriers. Shows a good head for the ball, fluid changing direction and stacks well against the run. Breaks down well, slides off blocks and is fluid scraping laterally. Effectively gets his teammates in proper position.
Negative: Lacks lateral speed and slow getting to the flanks. Displays minimal quickness in his game. Marginal skills in coverage.
Analysis: Williams is a strong run defender who offers potential as a backup on the inside of a 3-4 defensive alignment.

Updated 2/26
RankRndNamePosYear
11stJadeveon Clowney
South Carolina
DE3Jr
21stJake Matthews
Texas A&M
T4Sr
31stAnthony Barr
UCLA
OLB4Sr
41stKhalil Mack
Buffalo
OLB5Sr
51stBlake Bortles
Central Florida
QB4Jr
61stTeddy Bridgewater
Louisville
QB3Jr
71stGreg Robinson
Auburn
T3So
81stSammy Watkins
Clemson
WR3Jr
91stTaylor Lewan
Michigan
T5Sr
101stC.J. Mosley
Alabama
OLB4Sr
111stMike Evans
Texas A&M
WR3So
121stKony Ealy
Missouri
DE4Jr
131stMarqise Lee
USC
WR3Jr
141stLouis Nix
Notre Dame
DT4Jr
151stJace Amaro
Texas Tech
TE3Jr
161stAaron Donald
Pittsburgh
DT4Sr
171stJustin Gilbert
Oklahoma State
CB4Sr
181stEric Ebron
North Carolina
TE4Jr
191stDarqueze Dennard
Michigan State
CB4Sr
201stCyrus Kouandjio
Alabama
T3Jr
211stDerek Carr
Fresno State
QB5Sr
221-2Zack Martin
Notre Dame
T5Sr
231-2Ra'Shede Hageman
Minnesota
DT5Sr
241stJohnny Manziel
Texas A&M
QB3So
251-2Jason Verrett
TCU
CB4Sr