Draft Buzz: Justin Durant

It would be foolish to suggest that the Bears are in the market for a middle linebacker. Brian Urlacher was an All-Pro this past season and still appears to be in his physical prime. Nevertheless, Hampton's Justin Durant is drawing some interest from GM Jerry Angelo and has already worked out for the Bears privately. Could he be a prospect for a change to outside linebacker?

During his collegiate career, Hampton middle linebacker Justin Durant too often appeared to be a man playing amongst boys as a clearly dominant force in Division I-AA competition.

And while the 6'1", 230-pound linebacker is considered a bit small by some NFL standards, he's right out of the mold of the speedy, hard-hitting types that are prevalent in the Cover 2 defensive scheme that more teams are implementing after the success that the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears have had running it.

At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, he got the attention of even more pro scouts when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 and 4.57 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times according to this Scout.com report. That put him in elite company since only five linebackers ran both forty-times below the 4.6-second mark.

(Mark Sutton/Mark's Digital Photography)
The only player to ever earn the Mid-Eastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Award three times finished his senior year with 98 total tackles, including 65 solo stops, 13 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 5 passes defended and 1 fumble recovery.

According to one of my NFL sources, Durant has had private workouts already with the Bears, Falcons, Panthers and Bengals. And he has visits scheduled in April with the Rams and the Buccaneers.

Scout.com NFL Expert Tom Marino currently has him projected as a sixth-round pick, while various other sources have him projected anywhere from the third- through sixth-round range.

Part of the reason for the wide array of projections is due to Durant playing in Division I-AA, but his supremacy there is captivating a number of teams that will undoubtedly rank him higher on draft boards than others. One report indicates that the Bengals are particularly high on Durant, and he's the type of linebacker that the Bears should be evaluating closely as he possesses many of the skills and attributes they look for in a linebacker for Lovie Smith's Tampa 2 scheme.

Check back on Sunday for an exclusive interview that I recently completed with this exciting young linebacker. In the meantime, you can learn more about Durant by visiting his player profile page here at Scout.com.

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the Scout.com network and syndicated through FoxSports.com's NFL team pages.

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