NFL Draft Q&A: LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar

Jo-Lonn Dunbar is one of those middle linebackers who always seems to be where the action is, making tackles all over the field. Find out why teams like the Patriots, Packers, Colts, Giants, Eagles, Chiefs, Panthers, Browns, Broncos, Texans and Bengals have been pursuing him in this exclusive interview.

Ed Thompson:  What was your Pro Day like?

Jo-Lonn Dunbar:  It wasn't as stressful as the Combine.  I had a meeting and a film session before the workouts.  Then we went through the whole stretching and warm-up process for our crews and things like that, but it's definitely a softer environment than being in Indianapolis.  

Thompson:  Who was your film session with?

Dunbar:  The linebackers coach from the Panthers.

Thompson:  How much of it was film of you versus film they brought to show you their system?

Dunbar:  It was about 50/50. We play basically the same type of defense, a 4-3 defense.  We have four coverage and things like that and we'd go over our defense at B.C., but then he'd talk about how their defense is similar to that and calls they would make in their defense.  I just kind of picked up their scheme as I was walking through my scheme.  That was probably 45 minutes long, but I had a great time talking to them about that.

Thompson:  If you get in at middle linebacker with the Panthers, you'll get to work with one of my favorite guys from last year's draft class, Jon Beason. I think you'd really enjoy him.

Dunbar:  I think I would love to play with him.  I know he played a little outside backer in college and he was a great player when I watched him play back in Miami. I watched him play this year in Carolina and he made some plays.  I would love the opportunity to be out there and play with him or be out there and play with any teammate and make some things happen.

Thompson:  Talk about your meeting you had before going out on the field.

Dunbar:  I spoke with the Packers for a little while.  I think it was the linebacker coach or DB coach. It's so hard to remember names when you're going through this whole process and meeting so many people.  He was picking Coach Jack's brain about me for a while, then he sat me down and spoke to me about playing linebacker and about their system.  They have a good middle linebacker in Nick Barnett, and we just talked football.  Not really in-depth, we didn't look over any film or anything like that, but we were just talking football and how I would work in the system.  He had good things to say about me as far as what he's seen of me in game film.

Thompson:  How did your paces on the field go?

Dunbar:  It went really well.  We started off with our vertical and I increased that a little bit, I think I jumped the same broad jump and things like that, but I did well in my pro agility and my three-cone and actually ran somewhere around the same time I ran at the Combine.  I think I'm about a 4.79 to 4.78 kid, but that's just me.  I had a great time, the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed.  You're able to showcase what you can do without the stressful tension of the Combine.

AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Thompson:  Did you run through some position drills for the coaches?

Dunbar:  Yeah I went through position drills. The Packers coach ran the positions drills.  He did a lot of head turning to see if guys could open their heads. He had a lot of good things to say about me after that.  I think I made a good impression on a couple guys.

Thompson:  Did chat with anyone else that day?

Dunbar:  I spoke to the Chiefs and the Giants during the workout. They had some good things to say. They were conducting the three-cone drill.

Thompson:  Talk a little bit about the possibility of heading to a place like Indianapolis with a head coach of the stature of a Tony Dungy. I know that's another team that has shown interest in you.

Dunbar:  I think it'd be awesome to play for a head coach like Tony Dungy.  I think he runs a great program, he has a great team, has a good foundation in their core players. They're a winning program and I think there are guys I can learn from there.  Their middle linebacker is Gary Brackett and he's a player.  He's one of those guys who will get out there and make plays for you. He has the same build as me, and I think it'd be a pleasure to be out there in Indianapolis and to learn from those guys.  I think I could flourish in a Cover-2 scheme, so it'd just be fun to be out there and work towards my goals.

Thompson:  How about New England?

Dunbar:  I would love to play for New England.  Obviously I already know Boston and I think it's a great area.  To be able to learn from Tedy Bruschi, he's one  one of the best linebackers in the NFL.  I think I could pick his brain and help myself tremendously by learning from a guy like him.  I think he's flourished by understanding the defense and understanding what offenses want to do against their defense, and then playing at a high level.  My thing is just to get on a team and learn from some guys and be able to step up and make plays when my time is called upon.  That's what I think those types of teams would help me do.

Thompson:  How about the Cleveland Browns?

Dunbar:  The Cleveland Browns have D'Qwell Jackson and Andra Davis and they're both good football players, so I know I would learn from them.  Romeo Crennell has a good defensive mind, so to learn from him would just be awesome.

Thompson:  Do you see any difference in playing in a 3-4 versus a 4-3?

Dunbar:  There's a little difference.  We played primarily a 4-3, but we played a variation of the 3-4 in a substitution package, so there were times where I had to cover two gaps.  So it's not like I've never played in a 3-4, but I'm not highly familiar with it.  I think I can take up two gaps, and I think I can move around and show a defensive coordinator or linebacker coach that I'm a physical guy who loves to be in there and make things happen.  Hopefully I get the opportunity, whether it's a 3-4 or a 4-3, to play my type of football game and have fun doing it.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can contact him by email through this link.

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