Draft 2001: Inside Linebackers Analysis



The Vikings have Kailee Wong, but he’s only one year away from free agency, so this could be a position the Vikings might look at for possibly upgrading at. The problem is that, aside from Miami’s Don Morgan, there are likely no other inside linebackers that will go on the first round and only two or three that will go on the second round. By and large, it’s an undersized group that will have to make an Ed McDaniel like impact to be decent pros. Don’t expect the Vikings to look to long or too hard at this position.


DAN MORGAN, Miami, 6-2, 244 — A fourth-year senior who became a starter midway through his freshman season...Three-time All-Big East linebacker — twice as an outside linebacker and last year as a middle linebacker...In four years, he had 532 tackles, 44 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks...Won just about every award a linebacker could win last year, including the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Bednarik Awards (given to the best defensive player) and the Dick Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker...Unanimous All-America selection last year...Moved to MLB because Mike Webster went to the NFL...88 of his 136 tackles in his senior year were solo tackles...Rare work ethic that has made him a tremendous all-around player...Never missed time with injuries, even though one of them was a painful turf toe injury last year...Hasn’t learned to play low to ground like most natural MLB’s...Didn’t work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: Depending on who takes him, he may be asked to play weakside linebacker or middle linebacker. Because of his nose for the ball, he’ll be gone in the first half of the first round.

KENDRELL BELL, Georgia, 6-1, 236 — Transferred to Georgia from Middle Georgia Junior College...Started just 16 games with Bulldogs...Despite sitting out a one-game suspension, he had 92 tackles, two sacks and an interception last year...Played fullback at MGJC...Played his best games under the media spotlight, dominating in both games vs. Florida...Has the ability, strength and speed to cover plays to both sidelines...Big time hitter who is effective when blitzing...Gets sucked in on too many plays because of his aggressiveness...Expected to make a big impact over time in the NFL...Ran a 4.62 40, did 24 reps and had a 38-1/2 inch vertical jump at the Combine.
PROJECTION: A little inexperienced, but superior athleticism will be sure that he goes in the second round.

EDGERTON HARTWELL, Western Illinois, 6-1, 245 — Fifth-year senior...Began his career with Wisconsin before transferring...Two-time Division I-AA All-America, All-Gateway Conference and GC Defensive Player of the Year...In three years with the Leathernecks, he had a whopping 486 tackles, 32 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks and one interception...A team captain the last two seasons...Holds WIU’s school record for tackles and solo tackles...Doesn’t have blazing 40 time, but seems to play faster with pads on than when he sprints...Has incredible instincts and nose for the ball...A little short for a middle linebacker in the NFL...Comes from same school that sent MLB Bryan Cox to the NFL...Ran a 4.81 40 at the Combine, as well as doing 18 reps and a 36-1/2 inch vertical jump at the Combine.

JAMIE WINBORN, Vanderbilt, 5-11, 227 — Fourth-year junior...Led the SEC in tackles each of his first two seasons and would have likely done it last year if not for a two-game suspension for getting financial assistance not allowed athletes...In three seasons, he had 377 tackles, 45 tackles for a loss and 16-1/2 sacks...Size is the primary concern, with many feeling he’ll be overpowered by NFL centers and guards who weigh 100 pounds more and have four or five inches of height on him...Has been compared to Mike Singletary and Ray Lewis — high praise, but not completely justified...Excellent blitzer who finishes almost every tackle and is rarely suckered into making mistakes...Didn’t run or lift at the Combine, but had a 35-1/2 inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: If he was three inches taller, he’d go in the middle of the first round. As it stands, he’ll likely be a second-rounder that will scare some teams away just because of his lack of height.

TORRANCE MARSHALL, Oklahoma, 6-2, 250 — Originally signed to play with Miami, but couldn’t get his grades right...Attended Kemper Military School for two years before moving on to Miami-Dade Community College in 1998...Played two years for Sooners, winning Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 1999 and being named All-Big 12 last year...In two seasons, he had 196 tackles, 33 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks...Has great speed and jumping ability for a linebacker...Could be used as a Mike Mamula-type pass rushing DE...Gets caught up in traffic too often...If brought along properly and not forced into action immediately, he is expected to become a fine MLB...Didn’t work out at the Combine.
PROJECTION: Playing for the national champion helped his stock, since so many scouts got to see him, but his limited big time college playing time will likely drop him well into the second round.

BRANDON SPOON, North Carolina, 6-2, 246 — Fifth-year senior...Two-year starter who redshirted 1999 season after tearing a biceps tendon in his arm...In two years as a starter, he 269 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss and six sacks...Lives in the weight room to make up for a lack of pure size...Viewed as the glue of the Tar Heels defense and was a leader in the locker room...Is willing to play through injuries...Has a hard time with big centers and guards and gets lost at times...Doesn’t always finish tackles...Made himself a lot of money by staying in school for his senior year and looked very strong at the Combine — where he ran a 4.71 40, did 33 reps and had a 35-1/2 inch vertical jump.
PROJECTION: He made a good impression at the Combine, but his physical limitations will likely keep him on the board until late in the second or early in the third round.

Carlos Polk, Nebraska, 6-2, 251
Zeke Moreno, USC, 6-2, 243
Alex Lincoln, Auburn, 6-0, 248
T.J. Turner, Michigan State, 6-3, 270
Justin Kurpeikis, Penn State, 6-3, 254
Matt Smith, Oregon, 6-3, 250
Kris Micheaux, Baylor, 6-1, 261
Kevin Nagle, East Stroudsburg (Pa.), 6-1, 237
Trey Merkens, UTEP, 6-1, 243
Wayne Rogers, Houston, 6-1, 236
Lyle Weaver, Army, 5-11, 235
Rick Crowell, Colorado State, 6-2, 245

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