NFL Draft: Scouting the Middle Linebackers

For the most part this years group of middle/inside linebackers are characterized by undersized prospects who are stop-watch slow yet overachieve on the field. Here are the scouting reports on the top twelve inside/middle linebackers.

Full Name: Abdul Hodge School: Iowa Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 236 40: 4.82 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter and All-Conference selection every season since his sophomore campaign. Led the Hawkeyes in tackles as a senior totaling 158/11/1. Junior numbers included 116/5/3.

Pos: Instinctive, hard working linebacker who makes plays in every direction of the field. Tough in run defense and goes for the knockout blow. Diagnoses the action, stays with assignments and quickly locates the ball. Covers a good amount of area and faster then his forty-time. Plays with balance, body control and rarely off his feet.

Neg: Occasionally takes false steps on his way to the action. Under-sized and gets caught up in the trash.

Analysis: A well-rounded linebacker with a complete game, Hodge is a three-down defender at the next level and has the ability to develop into a starting linebacker in the proper scheme.

Full Name: D'Qwell Jackson School: Maryland Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 230 40: 4.79 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter awarded All-Conference and All-American honors as a senior after 137/6.5/4. Junior totals included 123/7/4 after 136 tackles as a sophomore.

Pos: Hard-working leader on the football field who likes to mix it up. Plays with a nasty Streak, quickly diagnoses the action and has a terrific head for the ball. Holds his ground against bigger opponents and wraps up tackling. Disciplined, gets depth on drops and is effective in zone coverage. Takes proper angles to the action and flows to the action.

Neg: Does not have a decisive move to the throw and struggles with his back to the action. May lack the pure size to hold up in the middle.

Analysis: Productive on the college level, Jackson consistently works hard to improve his game. Best suited as a one-gap linebacker in a system that allows him to freely flow to the action.

Full Name: Gerris Wilkinson School: Georgia Tech Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 233 40: 4.68 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Full-time starter the past three seasons, named All-Conference after his senior and junior campaigns. Numbers last season included 85/9/4 with two interceptions. Career-best totals of 119/17/4.5 came as a junior.

Pos: Athletic prospect with possibilities at several different linebacker positions. Forceful on the field, scrapes laterally in the box and a sure-handed tackler. Plays heads-up football, quickly locating the action in run defense. Effective in zone coverage, fast on the blitz and stays with the action.

Neg: Lacks the quick or immediate change of direction and usually a half-step slow getting to the spot laterally.

Analysis: Possessing solid size/speed numbers, Wilkinson has a middle linebacker mentality yet the physical skills to play on the outside. Could grow into the strong-side position though he must improve his play in coverage.

Full Name: Freddie Roach School: Alabama Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 257 40: 5.01 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Four-year starter and All-Conference selection every year but his sophomore campaign. Senior totals included 66 tackles after 57/9/2 as a junior.

Pos: Run-stuffing linebacker best as a two-down defender. Forceful up the field, fires through gaps and displays a straight-line burst of speed. Strong, defeats blocks and brings ball-handlers down on initial contact.

Neg: Lacks the ability to immediately alter his angle of attack or change direction. Possesses marginal ball skills and does not display an explosive break to the play.

Analysis: A hard-hitting linebacker who stacks well against the run, Roach could back up at middle linebacker or possibly develop into a starter on the inside for a 34 alignment.

Full Name: Tim McGarigle School: Northwestern Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 242 40: 4.79 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter awarded all-conference honors since his sophomore campaign. Led the team in tackles as a senior with 156/7/2. Junior totals included 151 tackles after 140 the prior year.

Pos: Active run-defender best in the box. Immediately diagnoses the action and flies around the football, sacrificing his body in order to make the tackle. Intelligent yet tough. Fires up the field and displays excellent tackling technique. Flashes skill in coverage.

Neg: Lacks top sideline-to-sideline range as well as speed in pursuit. Swallowed up at the point or taken from the action by opposing fullbacks.

Analysis: A two-down defender with a great head for the ball, McGarigle has starting potential at inside linebacker for a 34 defense.

Full Name: Dale Robinson School: Arizona State Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 231 40: 4.88 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Transferred to Arizona State in 2004 and was awarded All-Conference honors the following two seasons. Was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year last year after totaling 115/15/4. Started twelve games as a junior and posted 93/13/4.5.

Pos: Versatile linebacker who plays bigger and faster than his size/speed numbers. Fires up the field in run defense, wraps up ball carriers and brings them down on initial contact. Solid change of direction. Instinctive, quickly picks up assignments and is relentless in pursuit of the ball handler.

Neg: Does not get great depth on drops. Lacks speed to the flanks.

Analysis: Consistently improving the past two seasons, Robinson has potential on the inside of a 34 defense while also offering possibilities at outside linebacker in a conventional system.

Full Name: Anthony Schlegel School: Ohio State Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 250 40: 4.88 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Two-year starter who began his college career at Air Force. Senior totals included 82/7/2 after career-best totals of 84/10.5/3.5 as a junior.

Pos: Hard-working two-down defender who is best against the run. Aggressive, effectively diagnoses the action and takes good angles to the play. Breaks down and defeats blocks on his way to the play.

Neg: Struggles moving laterally, lacks sideline-to-sideline range and speed in pursuit. Slow reacting when the ball's in the air and is better playing downhill.

Analysis: A competitive linebacker, Schlegel best fits on the inside of a 34 defense where his area responsibilities will be limited.

Full Name: Oliver Hoyte School: North Carolina State Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 245 40: 5.02 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Three-year starter who posted 79/8.5/1 as a senior after 93/14.5/1.5 the prior season.

Pos: Hard-working two-down defender effective stuffing the run. Fires up the field, possesses a burst of speed and wraps up tackling. Quickly locates the ball and diagnoses the action.

Neg: Marginal speed to the flanks, struggles in pass defense and does more trailing than covering. Taken off the field on obvious passing downs.

Analysis: Hard-working defender on the inside, Hoyte is an explosive tackler who can backup at middle linebacker or be used on the inside of a 34 system.

Full Name: Trent Bray School: Oregon State Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 231 40: 4.91 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Three-year starter used at both middle and outside linebacker. All-Conference the past two seasons, totaling 116/8/3.5 last season and 122/7.5/3 as a junior.

Pos: Tough, run-defending linebacker who struggles in coverage. Instinctive, diagnoses the action and remains disciplined with assignments. Takes good angles to the action and flies around the ball.

Neg: Lacks range and speed to the sidelines. Does not have a quick change of direction. Beaten by backs or tight ends down the field and does a lot of trailing in coverage.

Analysis: An old-school defender who plays with intensity, Bray is a two-down defender best suited on the inside of a 34 alignment.

Full Name: Leon Williams School: Miami-Fl Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 245 40: 4.65 Year: 5Sr

Bio: Part-time starter the past two seasons. Totaled 45 tackles as a senior after career-best numbers of 36/8/2.5 as a junior.

Pos: Outstanding athlete who never lived up to expectations. Moves well laterally, gets depth on drops and immediately alters his angle of attack. Easily runs with backs down field and displays speed in any direction. Takes on then defeats blocks.

Neg: Hesitant, does not display awareness in coverage and cannot stack against the run. Inefficient and slows into tackles.

Analysis Flashing ability, Williams has yet to translate his athletic skills into full-time football productivity. Offers potential at the next level if football becomes a priority.

Full Name: Tim Dobbins School: Iowa State Pos: ILB

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 246 40: 4.63 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Junior college transfer awarded All-Conference honors the past two seasons. Posted career totals of 103/7.5/1 as a senior. Junior numbers were 61/3.5/.5.

Pos: Hard-working linebacker with a good head for the ball in run defense. Diagnoses the action, remains disciplined and does not bite on play-action passes. Fires up the field, filling gaps and displaying range in pursuit. Flashes cover skills in zone.

Neg: Not a sudden or explosive defender. Slow shedding blocks. Hesitant and not instinctive in pass defense.

Analysis: Overcoming much adversity from his childhood, Dobbins found refuge in football, making it a priority in his life. An adequate backup in a 34 defense who should excel on special teams.

Full Name: Kevin Simon School: Tennessee Pos: ILB

Ht: 5-10 Wt: 235 40: 4.95 Year: 5Sr

Bio: All-Conference selection last season after 88/4.5/12. Started two games in ‘04 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Led the team in tackles as a junior, posting 115/6/4.5. Moved into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman, playing a quarter of the season before suffering his first knee injury.

Pos: Undersized yet explosive linebacker, very productive when healthy. Plays significantly faster than his 40 time, displays terrific range to the sideline and works hard to get involved in the action. Takes good angles to the play, quick to the flanks an effective in zone coverage.

Neg: More of a chase-and-drag-down tackler than a stout run defender. Struggled in coverage last year and seemed off his game.

Analysis: An explosive defender who looked like an up-and-comer during the ‘03 season, injuries have slowed Simon's development the past two years. Enters the draft with medical red flags and may never start at the next level.

Complete Middle Linebacker Rankings - Complete NFL Draft Rankings

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