Linebacker has an impact on Oakland

Despite an emerging group of talented linebackers on the Oakland Raiders roster, the team may indeed have a need at the position. Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard would seem to be the future but how about the other outside linebacking position?

The Raiders met with Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny during Senior Bowl week with an eye towards improving the front seven.

They don't call it Linebacker U for nothing. From old-school studs like Jack Ham to modern-day stars like LaVar Arrington, Penn State has always been known for producing stellar linebackers. Posluszny is the next in line and is ready to showcase his skills on the professional venue. Given his impressive talents and his equally impressive alma mater, it is hard to fathom his collegiate success won't carry over.

The 6-foot-2, 237-lb. Posluszny posted some monster numbers as a Nittany Lion. He finished his four-year career with 372 tackles, nine sacks and 35 tackles for a loss. He won the Bednarik Award as the nation's top defender after the 2005 and 2006 seasons and was named first team All-America both years.

His off-the-field accolades were just as impressive. He was twice named an Academic All-American and graduated in just three-and-a-half years with a 3.54 GPA and a major in finance.

"Paul is just a smart, tough, good football player who is a good athlete and has a great sense for the game," Lions coach Joe Paterno said. "He knows how to play it and he is a delight to have on your team."

Having already won over his college coach, Posluszny looked to impress some pro coaches while down in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl. He did a good job of it too, proving to be an enforcer in the box, capable of making plays up the field. He was also quick to diagnose plays and routinely ran over blockers on his way to the ball-carrier.

Posluszny did reveal some flaws, however, mostly in pass coverage. He struggled moving in reverse and had a hard time staying with tight ends coming off the line.

"There are a lot of things I need to improve, but the main thing is working on pass coverage," Posluszny said.

Posluszny is a versatile player, capable of manning any linebacker position. He can play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3, although most of the teams he spoke with during Senior Bowl week utilized the latter scheme, including Oakland.

In Oakland, Posluszny could compete to fill the void in the starting lineup alongside Howard and Morrison.

Posluszny also has a refreshing respect for the game. When asked to compare himself to a current NFL player, he humbly declined.

"I can't really compare myself to anyone in the NFL right now - you have to get there first," he said.

Barring some catastrophic misfortune, he will indeed get there. While he will likely make his most immediate impact in running situations and on special teams, there is no ceiling on just how good a player he can be.

His combination of profuse potential and proven productivity is sure to make him a high draft pick. His tireless work ethic and gung-ho attitude would certainly help improve the Raiders should they select him on draft day.


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