Scouting the Linebackers

After a void of talent the past several years this weekends draft offers a lot of solid prospects at linebacker. Talent on the outside will be available through the third round while middle linebackers will offer impact during the early frames.

Outside Linebackers
D.J. Williams/Miami-Fl/6-1/250/4.55/ Senior: A tremendous specimen whose physical skills rate at the top of the linebacker list, Williams athletic abilities are worthy of an early selection but his mental hesitation is disconcerting. Though he has improved his reads, Williams is still a late reactor and has given up several big plays already this season on screen passes and the like. Could be a productive player at the next level but must be put in a simplified defense where his responsibilities are kept simple and easy.

Karlos Dansby/Auburn/6-3/231/4.57/Senior: A terrific athlete, Dansby impacted the Auburn defense from the day he stepped on the field. He could play either of the outside linebacker positions and though he may take a little time getting adjusted to the strength of the NFL opponents, a quality three down defender that can quickly break into the starting line-up as a rookie.

Michael Boulware/Florida State/6-2/226/4.51/Senior: A great prospect and brother to Ravens defensive star Michael Boulware, the younger sibling will quickly grow into an every down linebacker at the next level. He should immediately see action on the weakside yet don't be surprised if he grows into a strong-side defender. Carries a first round grade yet could slide out of the top 32 with the depth of linebackers in this draft.

Teddy Lehman/Oklahoma/6-1/240/4.51/Senior: A smart, instinctive linebacker that plays the game like a man possessed, Lehman brings a lot of intensity to a defense. There is not much to dislike about his game and Lehman should quickly move into the starting line-up at the next level and produce from the word "go".

Dontarrious Thomas/Auburn/6-2/225/4.58/Senior: An imposing athlete that forces the action everywhere on the field, Thomas could develop into a very good strong-side linebacker at the next level. He's a tremendous talent and hard worker yet must pick up the nuances of his position and improve his pass cover skills.

Demorrio Williams/Nebraska/6-0.5 /232/4.55/Senior: A linebacker prospect that makes a lot of athletic plays on the field, Williams has displayed a steady path of progression the past two years. Mainly used up in the box at Nebraska, must learn to consistently make good decisions in space but offers the underlying skills to eventually start for an NFL team.

Inside Linebackers
Jonathan Vilma/Miami-Fl/6-0/230/4.58/Senior: A quick thinking, hard working linebacker, Vilma could play in a variety of systems. Immediately keys then diagnoses the action and displays good first step quickness, Vilma is very sudden and explosive arriving on the scene. He's an every down defender that should make an immediate impact in the NFL.

Daryl Smith/Georgia Tech/6-2/234/4.72/Senior: A solid football player whose athleticism gives him a great advantage, Smith has the brains and speed needed to cover the pass yet the tenacity to defend the run. Probably best on the weak-side or in a three-four alignment.

Richard Seigler/Oregon St/6-2/235/4.75/Senior: Physically, Seigler has growth limitations and must be placed in specific schemes to remain in the middle at the next level. He could develop into a weak-side linebacker as he plays faster than his forty time or could even be used in a three-four scheme but regardless, a prospect with good upside for the next level.

Niko Koutouvides/Purdue/6-2.5/235/4.72/Senior: Tenacious in his approach, Koutouvides is constantly flying around the ball looking to take part in the action. He may survive on a two-deep for a defensive system that asks linebackers to play zone in coverage but more than likely Koutouvides is a special teams/back-up linebacker at the next level.

Courtney Watson/Notre Dame/6-1.5 /237/4.56/Senior: A vocal leader with a variety of skills, Watson is a tough defender that works hard to make plays on the ball. Does the little things well and improved his draft ranking in the post season.

Scout NFL Network Top Stories