2006 Draft Preview: Linebackers

2006 Draft Preview: Defensive ends  DE Kevin Carter By: Alain Poupart Associate Editor Date: Apr 21, 2006 As the 2006 NFL draft gets closer, we present a complete preview, including the Dolphins' needs and possible picks, as well as the top prospects. We continue with a look at the linebacker position.

How the Dolphins stack up at the position

The Dolphins' unsuccessful pursuit of LaVar Arrington made it pretty clear Nick Saban would like to add a starting-caliber player at the position. Channing Crowder and Zach Thomas will return as starters from last season, but veteran Junior Seau was released. Sedrick Hodge was signed from New Orleans as a free agent, but he's more of a backup type who will contribute on special teams. Donnie Spragan leads a group of mostly young or unproven backups. The rest of the linebacker corps at this point includes Eddie Moore, Mike Labinjo, Matt Sinclair and Derrick Pope.

Dolphins' last pick at the position: Channing Crowder, Round 3, 2005

Potential Dolphins pick(s) at the position

In his press-draft press conference, Saban specifically mentioned the need for front seven players who "can affect the quarterback." That would include an outside linebacker with pass-rushing skills, which is where Arrington would have fit in. If the Dolphins can get one of those guys at No. 16, then look for them to use their first-round pick on that position. Unfortunately, there's only one guy at the position would could fit that bill, and that's Chad Greenway of Iowa. If he's gone, which very well could happen, then the Dolphins probably would wait until later rounds to draft a linebacker. Names to remember for Round 3 or 4 would include Florida State's A.J. Nicholson, a highly talented prospect who has had some off-the-field issues; UTEP's Thomas Howard, a raw prospect with a great size/speed ratio; and Georgia Tech's Gerris Wilkinson, who is more of an all-around linebacker as opposed to simply a pass rusher. If the Dolphins go looking for an inside linebacker, remember the name Abdul Hodge, Greenway's teammate at Iowa.

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