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  1. #1
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    A look at middle linebacker prospects

    A look at middle linebacker prospects
    by VanRam on Feb 4, 2009 6:45 AM CST in 2009 NFL draft (SI.com)

    The Rams have some clear needs at key positions as they head into the draft. What are those needs and what are some potential names who could emerge as the next generation of players anchoring a brand new Rams team? I thought it would be useful to run down some key names ahead of the combine at each position of need. Today, a quick overview - with links - of the top MLB prospects in the draft.

    Aaron Curry, Wake Forest, 6'3", 241 lbs

    Curry's a first rounder, and probably the top LB in the draft. There are a few mock drafts out there that even project the Rams to take him with the #2 pick. It's more likely that they'd have to trade down to get him, but for now, he's a top 10 pick. Here's an overview at Mocking the Draft. The scouting report at Walter Football puts him as a strongside LB in a 4-3 and middle LB in a 3-4, which probably doesn't make him the best fit for the Rams.

    Rey Maualuga, USC, 6'3", 254 lbs

    We've talked about Maualuga here in the wake of his strong showing at the Senior Bowl. He's probably the best pure MLB for a 4-3 (or a 3-4) in the draft. There are questions about his ability in coverage, and this scouting report wonders if he's not slightly hyped.

    James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, 6'3", 243 lbs

    Walter Football calls him the "top pure 4-3 inside linebacker" in the 2009 draft. He's a likely a top 15-20 pick, meaning a trade down if the Rams really fancied him anchoring their middle for years to come.

    From here, the rankings get a little confusing as so many draftniks use the ILB definition from a 3-4 defense. As you can see from these lists at Walter Football and Mocking the Draft, the next tier of LBs ranked are a little small to play MLB in a 4-3. It's worth remembering Beckwith, Ellerbe and Phillips to see how they check out at the combine and what they weigh in at.

    A couple more names to keep an eye on, could be potential middle round steals.

    Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina, 6'2", 257 lbs

    You want size, this guy has it. This scouting report says he could be a ready-made starter in the NFL, capable of "dropping running backs in their tracks."

    Scott McKillop, Pitt, 6'2", 240 lbs

    A little on the small side, but he's smart, a good tackler and a "blue collar" player that could be a real hit with fans who've watched their team play at something less than perfect lately. Here's a report that predicts he could go in the 2nd round, but might not have the size for a 4-3 scheme.

    Daniel Holtzclaw, Eastern Michigan, 6'1", 245 lbs

    This guy could be a mid-round steal. Voted a second team All American, he had more than 230 tackles over the last two seasons. Add some bulk, and he could be a real find for the middle.

    That's a look at some of the top MLB prospects and some potential picks for the mid-rounds. This draft has been called a good one for linebackers, so I'm sure there's a few more we're missing here. Help me fill this list out.

    Don't forget our draft project. Take a prospect you think could help the Rams and write him up, whatever you want to say about him. Tackle Box got us started with DE Larry English.

    :ramlogo:

  2. #2
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: A look at middle linebacker prospects

    Aaron Curry, Wake Forest, 6'3", 241 lbs
    Actually, I believe he is closer to 250.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: A look at middle linebacker prospects

    Not a good year to need a middle linebacker in my opinion.

    Curry's best fit would be a SAM in a 4-3...

    Maualuga is a liability in coverage and is still riding the coat tails of the hype he got by the end of last season when people (myself included) thought Maualuga was going to drop some weight and fly around...to me he's not an every down linebacker and will only give his team value in the first round if it's a team with a 3-4 defense..he goes from a mediocre 4-3 pro to a superstar 3-4 ILB IMO..

    You have James Laurinitis who could play MIKE in a 4-3 in some systems but might not be able to hold up in the middle...and would be best used as a WILL in a 4-3 IMO...

    The next guy after this group are late 2nd to early 3rds....IMO...not one solid 4-3 MIKE 1st round guy in the entire draft.

  4. #4
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    Re: A look at middle linebacker prospects

    I think malaluaga will prove people wrong, he's got alot of heart and wants to be great. I think come sundays Malaluaga will be an every down 4-3 mike or 3-4 Ilb. I would love him in the middle for the Rams to bad it's not gonna happen.

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    Re: A look at middle linebacker prospects

    I want McKillop. I don't think the Rams snag Laurinitis or Maualuga with the second pick. I'm sure McKillop will be in the later rounds.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    Re: A look at middle linebacker prospects

    If everything checks out with his knee...a guy that might have a shot at STARTING for you guys at MIKE and that can be in rounds 2 or 3 is Danelle Ellerbe of Georgia... I can't really find a good YouTube video of the guy to put on here but he's solid...

    might need to bulk up a little...but rookies normally put like 15 lbs heading into traning camp anyway...a good strength and conditioning coach could get him strong enough and Spags was a linebackers coach in Philly so you know he'll have good instruction for him...

    Ellerbe isn't a big guy but he plays big and moves around well..

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    Re: A look at middle linebacker prospects

    I wouldn't mind taking Curry at 2, then if Laurinitis falls to the second (ive seen him falling all the way to the giants) we would drastically improve our defense. Spoon at weak, James in the middle, and Curry at SAM. Of course the only problem with that strategy is the whole offensive line issue. But man would those LBs be intimidating...

    If Laurinitis doesn't fall, we could go OT and then snag McKillop in the third.

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