The Underclassmen: The Linebackers

With the Scouting Combine just a few weeks away, and the Senior Bowl in the rear-view mirror, it's time for Seahawks.NET to continue with Draft Editor Scott Eklund's multi-part series about those underclassmen who have declared for the draft. In Part 5, Scott profiles the linebackers.

Florida State LB Geno Hayes If Hayes had stayed in for his senior season, there’s a chance he could have been one of the top outside linebackers selected in the 2009 draft, but as it is he’ll be a bit of a steal for whichever team decides to take a flier on him. Hayes is decent in coverage, but he’s not the most fluid runner and he stiff in his hips so he doesn’t turn and run well. What he does best is attack the line of scrimmage. Hayes loves to hit and if he was a more fluid athlete, he could translate into a great safety prospect. His instincts are sound and he uses his hands well to shed blockers. I expect him to be available early into day two and for him to make an immediate impact on special teams for whichever team selects him.

NFL Comparison – Denver LB Ian Gold

Florida State's Geno Hayes, left, cannot make the interception of a Clemson pass intended for receiver Rendrick Taylor, right, during the second quarter of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006, in Tallahassee, Fla.(AP Photo/Phil Coale)

Maryland LB Erin HendersonHenderson is an outstanding linebacker who reads the run well and his instincts are some of the best in the group that makes up the position in this year’s draft. He’s strong and very physical at the point of attack. Where he runs into trouble is over-pursuit and he’s not great in coverage. Henderson has also proven to be somewhat injury-prone so that may devalue him a bit, but there’s not denying, that when healthy, he’s about as good as there is at the middle linebacker position coming out this season. I expect him to fall a bit because of his injury history, but he should be selected sometime in the first three rounds.

NFL Comparison – Green Bay LB Brady Poppinga

Oklahoma LB Curtis Lofton Lofton was a tackling-machine at Oklahoma totaling 157 in his first year as a starter this past season. He’s a very talented player who runs well, wraps up when he hits a player and he’s always around the ball. Lofton is especially adept at “staying out of the trash”, able to avoid blockers without losing his angle to the ball-carrier and he’s got incredible instincts. Where Lofton struggles is in coverage because he’s a little stiff and that makes it more difficult to turn and run with backs and tight ends when he’s asked to drop into coverage, he plays well in zones however because of his excellent instincts and he can make plays on the ball when it’s in the air. Lofton is very good in-between the tackles as a run-stuffer and should see his stock rise if he can run well at the combine or in his private workouts. Right now he looks like a late first, early second round selection.

NFL Comparison – Tennessee LB Keith Bulluck

Louisville LB Lamar Myles Myles is a very athletic linebacker who could play either outside position and do well. He could also play an inside position in a 3-4 scheme so that versatility will be intriguing to some teams. What you have to like about Myles is his productivity on a defense that didn’t have that many playmakers to take the pressure off of him. Myles is at his best attacking the line of scrimmage. From the film I’ve seen he didn’t look particularly comfortable playing in reverse and that might make some scouts shy away from him, but at this point I think you could see him move up into the mid to early second round with a good performance at the combine.

NFL Comparison – Houston LB DeMeco Ryans Top Stories