2009 NFL Draft Rankings: LB

INSIDE LINEBACKERS:
1. James Laurinaitis- Ohio State, Sr- Laurinaitis is a very intelligent football player with a lot of speed and great tackling ability. There aren’t too many flaws in Laurinaitis’ game which is why he should go in the top 10.
2. Rey Maualuga- Southern California, Sr– Maualuga is another top 10 prospect at the inside linebacker spot. Maualuga is very quick and shows great closing speed.
3. Brandon Spikes- Florida, Jr- Spikes is by far the best junior at the position. He is a solid tackler and could be the best in the country at inside linebacker in pass defense.
4. Darry Beckwith- LSU, Sr- Beckwith is one of the best tacklers in the country and has substantially improved in pass coverage over the course of the season.
5. Scott McKillop- Pittsburgh, Sr- McKillop struggles in pass coverage which is why he has fallen to number five on my list; however, McKillop is the best tackler in the country and shows above average instincts on the field. In the right system, he could have a productive NFL career.
6. Jason Phillips- TCU, Sr- Phillips is a very well rounded player with very few weaknesses. There is nothing about him that will overly impress scouts which should cause him to fall to the later part of the first day or even the second day of the draft.
7. Joe Pawelek- Baylor, Jr- Pawelek is another example of an instinctive player with good tackling ability. If he declares this year he probably will end up going in the second day, but a good senior season could vault him into the first round.
8. Worrell Williams- California, Sr- Williams is a very powerful tackler with excellent timing. What will drop him down is his habit of getting beat in the passing game.
9. Josh Mauga- Nevada, Sr- Mauga is a very good tackler. He also is experienced in both the 4-3 and 3-4.
10. Gerald McRath- Southern Mississippi, Jr- McRath has room to add bulk to his frame which is why he should stay in school for his senior season. If he gets bigger and continues to play well he could become a first day selection.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS:

1. Aaron Curry- Wake Forest, Sr- Curry is a player who should be able to transition well to the NFL game. He shows the ability to turn the corner and he is a very good tackler. He has also improved on his positioning which has made him the best linebacker available in this year’s draft.
2. Brian Cushing- Southern California, Sr– Cushing is a very smart player who does not make a lot of mistakes. He is quick and is very powerful.
3. Clint Sintim- Virginia, Sr- Sintim is a disciplined player and is also very versatile in the ways that he rushes the passer. His biggest problem at this point is pass coverage where he often gets turned around by athletic Tight Ends.
4. Sean Weatherspoon- Missouri, Jr- Weatherspoon is very good in just about every department. He is very solid in pass coverage and he is also a very good tackler. He does have some injury issues that are worrying some teams.
5. Marcus Freeman- Ohio State, Sr- Freeman is a very well rounded player who will produce in his first year in the NFL, even if he has to do that on special teams. His biggest area of improvement needs to come on passing downs.
6. Clay Matthews- USC, Sr- Matthews is a very hard worker and a smart player. Not too many character issues. I see him as an early second day pick at this point.
7. Antonio Coleman- Auburn, Jr- At this point in his collegiate career Coleman is still a defensive end, but he definitely projects as an outside linebacker in the pros so I am ranking him here. Coleman has a great pass rush and is very powerful but we will have to see how his pass coverage comes along this season.
8. Rico McCoy- Tennessee, Jr- McCoy is very quick and explosive. He is a very solid hitter and drops into coverage well. McCoy has not improved as much as I had expected and another year in college could boost his status a great deal.
9. Tyrone McKenzie- South Florida, SrРMcKenzie isn’t the best tackler available, but you could argue him being one of the top three outside linebackers available when it comes to passing downs. He rarely is beat badly and can almost always stay in touch with the receiver.
10. Mark Herzlich- Boston College, Sr- Herzlich is a smart player who is quick to get into the backfield.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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