I can’t think of a positional group that is asked to be more versatile or do more than linebackers. From rushing the passer to covering the deep middle and sideline to sideline, linebackers have to do it all. Teams will have their own criteria based on the scheme they run and their individual needs.
What to Watch
Linebackers have to be versatile; a unique blend of size and speed, strength and knowledge and teams will want to see it all on display. Check out the positional drills and workouts page with Mike Mayock over on NFL.com. Really great insight into what scouts are looking for when the prospects take the field in Indianapolis.
- Alec Ogletree, Georgia
- Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
- Kevin Minter, LSU
- Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
- Jonathan Bostik, Florida
- Jarvis Jones, Georgia
- Khaseem Greene, Rutgers
- Jamie Collins, Southern Miss
- Arthur Brown, Kansas State
- Chase Thomas, Stanford
Reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly was a top-1o selection in 2012, the top LB selected among the 33 that were drafted.
There were a couple of highly touted prospects in the 2013 draft class, but their stars have fallen. Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o was once considered a Top-10 prospect, but a bad game against Alabama in the National Championship Game dropped him down a few pegs. Then the whole catfishing scandal moved him further down most draft boards because he’s either a liar or extremely stupid, neither of which is a quality you look for in a middle linebacker.
Alec Ogletree on the other hand, got a DUI just days before the Combine. Not the best move when you’re about to have the biggest interview of your life. And this latest trouble only adds to an already shaky past.
The linebacker position is clearly the Bears’ biggest need on the defensive side of the ball. Brian Urlacher may or may not be back, but the Bears can’t go into another season counting on him. Nick Roach, thought to be Urlacher’s replacement, is a free agent. That leaves Lance Briggs and a handful of no-names.
I have already staked my position on Te’o but if he were to slide into the second round, maybe there would be a good value in that spot. The results from the Combine will have a big say in where Te’o and Ogletree go in the draft, but it may be the results from the interviews that have a bigger effect than the times in the 40 yard dash.
I don’t think that linebacker is a first round consideration for the Bears, but I fully expect them to try to strike mid-round gold, like they did with Lance Briggs in the third round back in 2003.
What do you think? Which linebackers will you be eyeing at the Combine? Which would look best in Navy and Orange?