1. MLB Patrick Willis - Mississippi – 6-foot-2, 230 - 4.49
Patrick Willis is comparable to Jonathan Vilma of the New York Jets. An instinctive an ultra-athletic talent, he's amassed over 120 tackles in each of the past two seasons at Ole Miss. His success on the field also shows he puts in the necessary mental work, including film study and adequate preparation. That mental dedication will serve him well in the NFL.
Fundamentally, he does everything right. He moves with a low pad level and stays square to the line of scrimmage. He uses his hands to explode through blockers and stand them up. His balance is great, his lateral movement is strong, and he wraps up well when making a tackle.
Possibly a top 10 pick, the team that selects Willis will be acquiring a gem. There is little doubt he'll become the defensive face of that franchise and lead that squad for the next 10 years.
2. OLB Paul Posluszny - Penn State 6-foot-2, 235 - 4.70
Paul Posluszny is the ultimate team leader and everything you would expect from "Linebacker U" (Penn State's nickname as a linebacker factory). In his final two seasons of college football, Posluszny had 220 tackles (23 for loss) and six sacks.
Posluszny is a natural knee bender and flows from sideline to sideline. His instincts are far above average and his ability to flow to the ball is impressive. He sheds blocks well, tackles well and does all of the little things as he should.
His natural ability as a team leader should not be overlooked. Any team starting over with a young defense would be wise to add him and then build around his presence from that point on.
3. MLB David Harris – Michigan – 6-foot-2, 242 - 4.62
David Harris is a prototype downhill, run-stuffing middle linebacker. While he's not much of a "drop back" player he definitely fits into a scheme that asks linebackers to control the middle gaps and blow up anything that tries to sneak through.
The best part about Harris' game is that he's a violent and explosive hitter. He's the type of player that will intimidate a team because he plays with so much force and intensity. He has the potential to wreak so much havoc in the middle of the field that teams will completely abandon it and start focusing on the sidelines.
Harris is a far better player than many are giving him credit for. Don't be surprised if he's a third-round pick that shows up to be a first-round talent by the fourth week of the season.
4. OLB Lawrence Timmons - Florida State – 6-foot-3, 235 - 4.66
Lawrence Timmons is still slightly raw in his development, but the level of instinct and aggression he brings to the field more than makes up for his shortcomings.
Timmons can flow from sideline to sideline. He has marvelous change of direction and can open his hips on hook zone drops. Since he can close so quickly on the ball once he leaves his drop, he'll surely be most coveted by teams that utilize their linebackers in coverage.
Timmons is the prototypical linebacker that embodies speed, vision, agility and violence. He's "mobile, agile and hostile" as coaches would say, and the scary part is he's barely begun to tap into his potential.
Other notable players in this group - OLB Jon Beason, MLB Brandon Siler, MLB Buster Davis, OLB H.B. Blades, OLB Quincy Black, MLB Justin Durant, OLB Earl Everett
1. K Mason Crosby - Colorado – 6-foot-1, 212 Cosby is a truly gifted placekicker and can stick it through the uprights from almost anywhere. He's an asset on kickoffs also, as 75 percent of his kicks result in touchbacks.
2. P Daniel Sepulveda - Baylor – 6-foot-2, 229 One of the most decorated punters in NCAA history, you could write a book on the records Sepulveda's broken. He averaged 45 yards a punt and delivered an unbelievable 78-yarder last season. I expect him to be drafted in the third round.
2007 NFL Draft Value Board - LBs and Kickers
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