Eckel- Something for everyone at linebacker in NFL Draft

Eckel- Something for everyone at linebacker in NFL Draft

Posted on April 21st, 2014

Even though he went to the University of Buffalo, Khalil Mack is still considered the best linebacker available in the NFL Draft.Every Sunday up until the start of the NFL Draft on May 8, a different position of the draft will be analyzed with the help of three of the NFL s top talent evaluators: a scout for a NFC team, an executive in personnel from an AFC team and a scouting director from a NFC team who have all been a part of Super Bowl winners. These aren t guys in their basement with a laptop. These are the men who actually make the picks. First in the series: quarterbacks.Second in the series: running backs.Third in the series: wide receivers and tight ends.Fourth in the series: offensive linemen.Fifth in the series: defensive linement.If any position group in this year s draft has diversity, it s the linebackers.There appears to be something for everyone, depending on your system and your needs.If you re a 4-3 team with a hole in the middle, Alabama s C.J. Mosley could be your guy.Looking for a weak-side linebacker in that 4-3, maybe Ohio State s Ryan Shazier is the man.For a 3-4 team with a need for an edge pass rusher, there is Auburn s Dee Ford or Stanford s Trent Murphy.There then is UCLA s Anthony Barr, who would seem to fit well in either alignment, as a pass rusher in a 3-4 he had 22 sacks the past two seasons for the Bruins or as an outside linebacker in a traditional 4-3 set.Finally, the best linebacker in this year s draft is small-school phenom, Khalil Mack of Buffalo, who dominated the MAC last fall. I don t care where he played, the NFC personnel man said. He can play. He s a dominant player. UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr was compared to the Miami Dolphins' Dion Jordan who was a top five selection in 2013.Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press He showed that against some bigger schools, as well. Just put on the Ohio State game, the AFC executive said. He showed what he could do against one of the best teams in the country. Here is a look at Mack and the rest of the top linebackers in next month s draft. Khalil Mack, Buffalo, 6-foot-2, 251 pounds, 4.65 40-yard dash time He s the real deal, the NFC personnel man said. He kicks (butt). He s the best defensive player in the draft. He should go very early. He s strong, physical, athletic, and he has good technique, the AFC executive said. I don t see much wrong with him. A great player, the scout said. The best (linebacker) by far. He can play in any scheme, anywhere you want him to play. Anthony Barr, UCLA, 6-5, 255, 4.66 He needs to develop, but he ll go high, the NFC personnel man said. There s something to work with there. He s really athletic, just needs to learn the game more, the AFC executive said. He s similar to (Dion) Jordan but more productive. He might be better in a 3-4, but he can play in a 4-3, too. C.J. Mosley, Alabama, 6-2 , 234, 4.65 I like him a lot, the personnel man said. You can play him in a 3-4, a 4-3; he ll fit whatever you play. He s fast. He s athletic. And he s a leader. He doesn t have the size of (Luke) Kuechly, the executive said. But he plays like him. He s pretty damn good. Alabama's C.J. Mosley can play in the 4-3 or 3-4, our personnel men believe.Don Juan Moore/Associated Press  He s like those guys in San Francisco, the scout said, (NaVorro) Bowman and (Patrick) Willis. I think he s perfect inside in a 3-4. But he can be a Mike in a 4-3, too. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State, 6-1, 230, 4.43 Explosive as hell, the personnel man said. You could play him where you want, but I think he s ideal as a (weakside) in a 4-3. The guy makes plays. He runs great, the executive said. I mean he has rare speed. He s not real tough, not like a (Lavonte) David but tough enough. And he runs faster. Dee Ford, Auburn, 6-2, 252, 4.60 Good pass rusher, the personnel man said. He ll probably be a third-down specialist. He s a 3-4 linebacker, the executive said. He s not a great rusher, but he s pretty good. Strictly a rush guy, the scout said. You have to know how you want to use him. Trent Murphy, Stanford, 6-5, 250, 5.0 I like him better than Ford, the personnel man said. Little bigger, more productive, just not as fast. He s another 3-4 guy, the executive said. A bit of enigma, you watch him, and you don t see much, but there s a lot of production. You wonder how he does it. Chris Borland, Wisconsin, 5-11, 246 People love him, the personnel man said. He s tough, and he s scrappy, but he might be too short. Our scout believes Auburn's Dee Ford might be just a rush guy at the next level.Dave Martin/Associated Press  I don t know, the executive said. There s a lot to like. And when you talk to his coaches, they rave about him. Maybe he s another Sam Mills. Great kid, very good player, the scout said. Everyone you talk to, everyone who knows him, loves him. Kyle Van Noy, BYU, 6-3, 244, 4.71 He s OK, the personnel man said. Better than some but not a top guy. Good effort, always hustles, the executive said. Might need time, but he ll make an impact on special teams for you right away. He s got pretty good range. He ll be good against read-option teams. Shayne Skov, Stanford,hair extensions, 6-2, 245, 4.75 He s better inside in a 3-4, the personnel man said. That s what he played at Stanford. Very smart player, the executive said. He reads plays well. He doesn t get caught in traffic; he gets to the ball. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut, 6-2, 246, 5.01 There s production there, the executive said. He s always around the ball. He has decent range and can cover tight ends. Should have stayed in school another year, the scout said. He s a little slow in read and react to the ball. Speed is an issue, too. WHAT THE LOCALS MIGHT DOEagles: They need help outside and depth inside, so look for a couple of picks here.Giants: Other needs are more pressing, but a good, young linebacker wouldn t hurt that defense.Jets: It s not their biggest need, but they could use some depth inside.Contact Mark Eckel at meckel@njtimes.comCONNECT WITH US:On mobile or desktop: Like Times of Trenton Sports on Facebook Follow @TimesofTrenton on Twitter

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