Here’s a look at how I feel about the 2009 outside linebacker prospects. Ends and linebackers may be used interchangeably due to uncertainty of which position the prospect will play in the NFL. The order may change as draft day nears.
1. Aaron Curry – Wake Forest
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 247 | 40-time: 4.56
What I like about him: Perhaps one of, if not the best defender in the draft, he’s definitely the top linebacker. He’s built solidly, has strong hands and a wide base. Smart player who sheds blocks well.
What I don’t like about him: Needs to work on pass coverage and open-field tackling.
2. Brian Cushing – Southern California
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 255 | 40-time: 4.74
What I like about him: Physical player with good awareness. Has natural instincts and can make plays in the backfield with his speed and awareness.
What I don’t like about him: Durability could be an issue. Doesn’t move with fluidity.
3. Clint Sintim – Virginia
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 254 | 40-time: 4.78
What I like about him: Strong player with good size and arm length. Has the athleticism to drop back in coverage. Can shed blocks and takes good angles.
What I don’t like about him: Doesn’t always play at full speed. Doesn’t have good foot speed and must improve in zone coverage.
4. Clay Matthews – Southern California
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 240 | 40-time: 4.67
What I like about him: A very determined athlete who went from a walk-on to a star. Good pass-rushing skills. Can close in on quarterbacks and running backs going in the opposite direction.
What I don’t like about him: Was only a one-year starter. Will need to improve pass coverage skills. Can get fooled on the misdirection and reverse plays.
5. Cody Brown – Connecticut
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 248 | 40-time: 4.84
What I like about him: Good speed to get around the end while pass-rushing. Has good strength to bull-rush, too. Good lateral mobility.
What I don’t like about him: Needs to work on shedding blockers. Doesn’t have good leverage and fails to finish plays downfield.
6. Marcus Freeman – Ohio State
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 239 | 40-time: 4.74
What I like about him: He’s got lateral mobility and plays with good fluidity. Good footwork and he takes good angles, making plays sideline-to-sideline.
What I don’t like about him: Doesn’t have good height or natural instincts. Not an explosive hitter and can’t hold his ground when plays come at him.
7. Connor Barwin – Cincinnati
Height: 6-3 | Weight: Weight: 253 | 40-time: 4.64
What I like about him: He’s a good athlete with a constant motor and he plays hard.
What I don’t like about him: Only a one-year starter on defense. Doesn’t have ideal reaction time and needs to work on his technique.
8. Ashlee Palmer – Mississippi
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 223 | 40-time: 4.50
What I like about him: Good at short-yardage coverage. Has nice footwork and has fluid hips and agility.
What I don’t like about him: Doesn’t have great size. Needs to bulk up. Character and work ethic are questionable.
9. Jonathan Casillas – Wisconsin
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 220 | 40-time: 4.50
What I like about him: Good athleticism. He’s one of the fastest linebackers in the draft. Good sideline-to-sideline play-making ability. Good recognition skills and stays disciplined.
What I don’t like about him: Lacks ideal size and can get engulfed by blockers. Overall poor ability when taking on blockers. Doesn’t have great recovery time. Character and maturity could be issues.
10. Zack Follett – California
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 231 | 40-time: 4.75
What I like about him: He’s a decent pass-rusher and has natural instincts. Flows to the ball quickly. Plays with good leverage and hits with strength.
What I don’t like about him: Doesn’t have good size. His lower-body strength needs improvement. Needs to work on coverage skills.
11. Kaluka Maiava – Southern California
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 226 | 40-time: 4.75
What I like about him: Fundamentally sound player who reads his keys well. Good lateral mobility and is elusive at avoiding blockers. Plays with fluidity.
What I don’t like about him: Doesn’t shed blockers well when engaged. Small in stature and lacks ideal arm length.
12. DeAndre Levy – Wisconsin
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 230 | 40-time: 4.55
What I like about him: He’s got good range and is light on his feet. Moves with fluidity and can cover tight ends and running backs in man-to-man coverage.
What I don’t like about him: Can’t shed blocks well. Doesn’t hit with power and lacks lower-body strength. Takes poor angles at times.
13. Tyrone McKenzie – South Florida
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 235 | 40-time: 4.77
What I like about him: Has decent agility and flows to the ball. Plays well in open space and shows good recognition in zone coverage. Versatile and durable.
What I don’t like about him: Plays too tall and leaves his legs susceptible to taking a beating. Needs to improve his tackling.
14. David Veikune – Hawaii
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 255 | 40-time: 4.87
What I like about him: Strong athlete who plays with power and puts himself in position to make plays. He can take on double teams.
What I don’t like about him: Doesn’t have great speed and will struggle in pass coverage.
15. Nic Harris – Oklahoma
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 230 | 40-time: 4.78
What I like about him: Plays with good instincts. Stays disciplined and doesn’t fall for trick plays. Has good range and avoids getting caught in traffic.
What I don’t like about him: Doesn’t have good fluidity and lacks ideal speed. Can’t shed blockers well.
Anthony Felder – California
Anthony Heygood – Purdue
Brad Jones – Colorado
Braxton Kelley – Kentucky
Bryant Haines – Ball State
Chris Evans – Auburn
Cody Glenn – Nebraska
Corey Smith – Cincinnati
Dave Philistin – Maryland
Diyral Briggs – Bowling Green
Frantz Joseph – Florida Atlantic
Gerald McRath – Southern Mississippi
James Holt – Kansas
Jason Williams – Western Illinois
Jerome Boyd – Oregon
Johnny Williams – Kentucky
Julius Williams – Connecticut
Kenny Mainor – Troy
Kevin Akins – Maryland
Lee Robinson – Alcorn State
Merrill Johnson – Auburn
Moise Fokou – Maryland
Mortty Ivy – West Virginia
Orion Martin – Virginia Tech
Phillip Hunt – Houston
Reggie Walker – Kansas State
Robert Francois – Boston College
Spencer Adkins – Miami
Stephen Hodge – Texas Christian
Tyrell Sales – Penn State
Victor Butler – Oregon State
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