Charting a so-so crop of linebackers

Linebackers THE ELITE 1. Boss Bailey (Georgia - 6-3, 233, 4.38) Sports NBA athleticism, but is too much of a matador when taking on blocks and doing the dirty work required of a linebacker. 2. E.J. Henderson (Maryland - 6-1, 245, 4.75) Butkus Award winner is ultra-productive (473 career tackles), tough and intuitive. Dogged by questions about his back or whether he's a two-down player.

3. Nick Barnett (Oregon St. - 6-1, 236, 4.66)

Lacks top size, but has the instincts and energy to chase backs, excel on special teams. Potential strong safety was dismissed from Tennessee.


4. Terry Pierce (Kansas St. - 6-1, 260, 4.77)

Oversized classic inside linebacker also throws the shot put and discus, but no one will stand still for him in NFL. Can he be more than an inside-the-box player?

5. Gerald Hayes (Pittsburgh - 6-0, 238, 4.75)

Hustles, hits and wraps up tackles with authority. Considered average at lateral pursuit and in diagnosing offenses.

6. Chaun Thompson (West Texas A&M - 6-1 240, 4.53)

Pride of the Lone Star Conference is a former track standout who excels in space, Much better at moving forward than retreating into coverage.


7. Bradie James (LSU - 6-2, 242, 4.69)

Looks the part, bench presses over 400 pounds and has leadership qualities, but needs to stay lower and gain more depth on pass drops.

8. Shawn Price (North Carolina St. - 6-1, 230, 4.55)

Undersized and has asthma, yet he has the speed of a running back. Better versed at edge rushing than playing in reverse.

9. Mike Nattiel (Florida - 5-11, 228, 4.57)

Nephew of former Broncos wideout Ricky Nattiel has great aggressiveness. Lacks bulk and is occasionally out of control.

10. Kawika Mitchell (South Florida - 6-1, 253, 4.64)

Scouting combine brought his rare package of size, speed and football skills to teams' attention. A bit mechanical in the open field, though.


 Lance Briggs (Arizona); Angelo Crowell (Virginia); Clifton Smith (Syracuse); Robert Mathis (Alabama A&M); Khalid Abdullah (Mars Hill); Cie Grant (Ohio St.); Pisa Tinoisamoa (Hawaii); Sam Williams (Fresno St.); Eddie Moore (Tennessee).

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