Join Date: Apr 2008
Re: Bob McGinn on 2014 NFL
Rating the NFL draft prospects: Linebackers
1. C.J. MOSLEY, Alabama (6-2, 234, 4.68, 1) – Defensive leader for a team that went 46-7 and won a pair of national titles. "He's one of those guys that kind of makes a defense, he really does," said one scout. "Extremely smart. Instinctive. Explosive. Fast. All about football. No off the field issues. Never comes out of the game." Started just 29 of 51 games, finishing with 319 tackles (23 for loss), 8½ sacks and eight "big" plays (defined as the total of interceptions, fumbles forced and fumbles recovered). "He's maybe like Lavonte David," another scout said. "He's not as big as Luke Kuechly. He's not Patrick Willis." Returned three of his five picks for TDs. "Excellent in the passing game," a third scout said. "He can match up in zone or man to man. He also can play the run directly at him or run laterally to the sideline. If he gets knocked down it will because of the medical." Has had major elbow, hip and shoulder injuries. "Sometimes his lack of size shows up in his tackling," a fourth scout said. "He lacks tackling bulk. Sometimes he gets outsized by linemen, and sometimes he'll hit 'em and they don't fall down." From Mobile, Ala.
2. RYAN SHAZIER, Ohio State (6-1, 230, 4.38, 1) – Third-year junior and a two-year starter on the weak side. "He is the fastest guy I have scouted at linebacker other than Brian Urlacher," one longtime scout said. "We had him at 4.38 at 235 or 237. Mosley is a hell of a football player but I'll take 4.38 and see if I can work with it. He's a blur. He's faster than Derrick Brooks. He's a bigger, faster Lavonte David. He's a freak when it comes to speed." Posted the best vertical jump (42 inches) of anyone at the combine and led LBs in the broad jump (10-10). Scored 20 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test and bench-pressed 225 pounds 25 times. "His problem is he's a real linear guy," another scout said. "He bulked up for his pro day but he probably played under 220 this year. He's doesn't have a lot of (expletive) to him so when he hits you sometimes his legs go dead." Finished with 315 tackles (44½ for loss), 14 sacks and 10 big plays. Compared by one scout to former Bear WLB Wilber Marshall. "Not very strong," a fourth scout said. "Gets bounced around some. He's got unique speed. Pursuit angles are a little inconsistent. Supposed to be a pretty good kid. Good hands, but not physical. Good feel in the pass game." From Pompano Beach, Fla.
3. CHRIS BORLAND, Wisconsin (5-11½, 247, 4.83, 2) – One of the greatest defensive players in Badgers' history. "I watched practice before I watched any tape when I was there," one scout said. "I saw him and I said, 'Are you kidding me? How does this guy play middle linebacker in the Big Ten?' Then I put the tape on. Does everything. Awesome in coverage. Blitzes well. If he's 6-1 and his arms are longer than a pencil he's a top-10 pick. But middle linebacker is the one position where you can lack a little length." Arms measured a scant 29¼ inches. "It will take (guts) to draft him, but I wouldn't worry about it," another scout said. "This guy is unique. He's like (Luke) Kuechly. His body length is going to get him in a little bit of trouble on wide plays sometimes because he's not the fastest guy in the world. But he always has great leverage on the ball. He knows where the ball's going." Wonderlic of 32. Said a third scout: "The plays he made against Ohio State, when he stones the best running back (Carlos Hyde) in the draft and beats a blocker to get to him to do that...with his first-step quickness to the ball and leverage, I have faith in that kid." Finished with 410 tackles (50 for loss), 17 sacks and a whopping 27 big plays. "He's going to get completely destroyed in there," a fourth scout said. "He's short and has short arms. He plays his (expletive) off but what's his pro physical up side?" From Kettering, Ohio.
4. PRESTON BROWN, Louisville (6-1, 251, 4.81, 3-4) – After the top three there's a massive drop-off to Brown. "Nothing special," said one scout. "They didn't think he was tough enough. At the end of the year one of the coaches said he was. He kind of grew on me. He has good production. He runs well enough. He's a backup." Started in the middle the last two seasons after aligning on the strong side in 2011. "Stout enough," another scout said. "He's like a fifth-round pick or something." More of an old-fashioned MLB with limitations in coverage. Had 301 tackles (21½ for loss) with seven sacks and six big plays. From Cincinnati.
5. TELVIN SMITH, Florida State (6-3, 222, 4.50, 3-4) – Played 54 games but started just 15. "It's a projection (inside)," said one scout. "Unfortunately, he's undersized. Does he have the instincts? Yes. Is he a take-on guy? No. Can he cover a tight end? Yes. You do the best you can." Played the weak side for the Seminoles, finishing with 214 tackles (29 for loss), seven sacks and 10 big plays. "He's a very good lateral player," said a second scout. "Can he make plays 10, 12 yards off the line of scrimmage? I don't know because he was a forward player there. But he is a really good athlete." Called "stiff and straight-line" by a third scout. "I don't know what you do with him," a fourth scout said. "He looks like he's a tiny person. He's a good player, but 215 is kind of tough." From Valdosta, Ga.
6. SHAYNE SKOV, Stanford (6-2½, 243, 5.20, 4-5) – Started for the better part of four years. "Remember how smart those old Penn State linebackers were?" one scout said. "They all played more on brains than talent. That's what this guy might be. He's not real fast but his angles get him to the ball where he absolutely minimizes the gains that a back might make outside. Yet, he rarely gets cut back on. And he's a magnificent blitzer. I'll give him that, boy. In pass cover watch him on his drops. It's almost like he knows where the offense is sending the ball on the snap. You better have better players around him, but he'll be the glue that will hold your defense together." Has a bad knee and might be rejected by some teams. Damaged his draft hopes by running a terrible 40 on April 21. "He's just a try-hard guy," said a second scout. Finished with 355 tackles (40½ for loss), 17 sacks and eight big plays. Wonderlic of 34. Lives in Guadalajara, Mexico.
7. CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY, Iowa (6-2, 234, 4.57, 4-5) – Played out of position in the middle most of his career. Got a shot on the weak side at the Senior Bowl and flourished. "He wasn't strong enough for middle and they put him in position where he'd never make any plays," said one scout. "He's the best of the three Iowa (LBs). He's athletic." Finished with 315 tackles (13½ for loss), 5½ sacks and 16 big plays. "Very good Senior Bowl week," another scout said. "Nowadays everyone is so undersized, anyways. I think he can play inside but he's going to have to have some help. Very athletic and really instinctive. I'm betting on the come with him." From St. Louis.
8. JORDAN ZUMWALT, UCLA (6-4, 232, 4.71, 4-5) – "Overachiever," one scout said. Played in a 3-4 defense the past two seasons, starting 17 games inside and five outside. "He's like crazy," another scout said. "He's that hyper kind of player. Just not very fundamentally sound. He isn't playing within the defense. That's something he needs to work on. He's the see-ball, get-ball type." Finished with 256 tackles (22 for loss), two sacks and nine big plays. "Has a great motor," a third scout said. "Grows on you. Makes plays." From Huntington Beach, Calif.
9. KHAIRI FORTT, California (6-2, 245, 4.73, 4-5) – Compared by one scout to ex-Packer Desmond Bishop, another former inside LB at Cal. "He'd be an interesting guy if you could protect him a little bit because he's not a great take-on," one scout said. "But he's got speed. I don't care what he runs on the clock. He'll run fast on a field." Fourth-year junior with just 10 starts in three seasons. Played hurt much of 2013. Finished with 114 tackles (10 for loss), three sacks and no big plays. "Not a bad player," a third scout said. "He can play over the tight end or play middle backer. Been hurt his whole career. He couldn't even make it through the combine workout without getting hurt (hamstring)." From Stamford, Conn.
10. MAX BULLOUGH, Michigan State (6-3½, 248, 4.75, 5-6) – Three-year starter at MLB with a Wonderlic of 31 and 30 reps on the bench press. "Kind of the team's leader," one scout said. "All intangibles, not as good of a football player. Taller and plays tall. Average speed. But he lines everybody up and gets everybody under control." His grandfather Hank was the Packers' defensive coordinator from 1988-'91 after playing 20 games at guard for them in the late 1950s. "His reputation and his name will help him a lot so he'll probably get drafted (late)," a second scout said. "I'd take him as a free agent because he's smart and plays hard." Added a third scout: "Try-hard overachiever. Tough kid. Typical Big Ten guy." From Traverse City, Mich.