Monday, April 21, 2008

Who Dat? Draft Preview: Linebackers

Another year, another year older for our geriatric linebacking crew. This is a position where Belichick has been very hesitant to go after in the early rounds, instead preferring to sign aging players that are a two years away from being eligible for Social Security. There are many questions this year regarding the the depth and durability of our linebackers, after releasing oft-injured Roosevelt Colvin, and who knows what the fuck is going on with Junior Seau. Linebackers are usually the corner stone of a Belichick-ian defense, they need to be be smart, and pick up a complex defense quickly, and most college linebackers have a slower learning curve to the speed of the NFL (there are always exceptions like Patrick Willis).

1. Keith Rivers- OLB- USC- Great athletic ability, who can burst through blocks with his blistering speed. Not much of a pass rusher (didn't record any sacks in '07), but plays very well against the rush and in coverage. Like many college players, goes for the big play instead of wrapping up the tackle. Has the overall package that Belichick might look for, though #7 might be too high to draft Rivers. Was heavily recruited coming out of high school by then Florida coach Ron Zoooooooook, but decided to attend USC after he was promised a #55 jersey (also worn there by Seau and Willie McGinest). Most recruits pick their college by pedigree of the school, or possibility of starting there, Rivers chose USC for a uniform number.

2. Dan O'Connor- ILB- Penn State- A big hit player who will deliver game in and game out. Great instincts and agility who can make outstanding plays in the open field.Comes from a great program that has brought many other great linebackers to the league and is the Nittany Lions all time leader in tackles. Has compared to his predecessor Paul Posluzny, but probably will drop lower in the draft due to some serious character concerns. Was supsended in 2005 for the following incident:

"Coach Joe Paterno has placed sophomore Dan Connor on indefinite suspension for his participation in recent harassment calls. Earlier this week, Connor and juniors Jim Kanuch and Nolan McCready were issued a summary offense for their actions. The calls, which occurred over several months and escalated to the point of harassment, were investigated by State College Police."

3. Curtis Lofton- ILB- Oklahoma. Dominant in every sense of the word, can take over a football game by himself. Great job at closing out a play, and pursuing a QB out of the pocket. Real smart football player, who knows where to be on the field and can sniff out the football. Led the team in tackles with 157 tackles in his first year as a starter with the Sooners. Because of his size his stock will probably plummet, but Belichick has never been a guy to shy away from players who don't fit into a typical mold. Could be a real steal if he falls into the Patriots lap in the 2nd round.

4. Jerod Mayo- ILB- Tenn- At 6'1 he plays alot bigger than he actually is, due to how physical he plays. Again another smart football player, and can play both the inside and outside linebacker which would fit in perfectly with the Belichick defense. Has had knee injuries, but played through them his senior year. If the Pats are looking for an explosive, undersized LB Mayo would look awfully attractive. Most likely to be drafted mid-first round.

5. Erin Henderson- OLB- Maryland- No, I could not resist doing a draft preview without putting an ACC player on the list. Despite name, is actually a man, a large man who could destroy a puny blogger who writes about NFL drafts. Please don't kill me Erin, I love your name, and I will never question your manhood again. Anyways, Henderson (younger brother of Vikings linebacker E.J which I can only assume is short for Elizabeth Jennifer), has great size and bulk with a killer instinct on the field. Hard worker who could be a great second round pick for the Patriots. Problems with injuries.

There are some decent prospects for the Patriots to look at this position, but I would be surprised if they took any of these guys at #7. Linebackers as a position is solid, more so than CB, and if the Pats wanted to trade down they could find some good value later in the first round.

Let me also take this chance to promo the "Mass Hysteria NFL Draft Selection Extravaganza", which will be taking place here at Mass Hysteria next Saturday. Get a chance to read my "expert" analysis on the draft, and my thoughts on the broadcast, and get a good chuckle as the tandem of Mel Kiper JUNIOR and Chris Berman drive me slowly insane. Blogging will commence at 230 Eastern Standardized Time.

Next Up: Running Backs

1 comment:

GHABB,Y~! said...

You left out St. John's Prep grad Jonathan Goff, who endured "being the only black kid at St. John's and Vanderbilt" to become a mid-round pick.