Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 27. / Michael Conroy/AP
• Overall: There’s no elite outside linebacker prospect for 3-4 teams, but the first round could see seven or eight viable players taken at that position (or as 4-3 defensive ends).
• Top prospect: South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram figures to go in the top half of the first round as a 3-4 outside linebacker a few picks ahead of Boston College’s Luke Kuechley, who’s the top prospect at inside linebacker.
• Packers outlook: Their primary need along with defensive line. The Packers are looking for a pass-rushing complement to Clay Matthews at outside linebacker, and it’s a given they’ll draft one this year, probably in the early rounds.
• Rising star: Boise State’s Shea McClellin finished the season looking like a second- or third-round prospect, but his combination of great game production and solid physical testing has made him a possible late first-rounder as teams have looked at him more closely.
• Falling star: Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict looked like a top prospect at inside linebacker going into the season but played poorly last season, had anger-management issues that led to multiple personal-foul penalties and had run-ins with his coaching staff last year. That lowered his stock, which plummeted to him possibly not being drafted after he interviewed badly with NFL teams and averaged a horrible 5.02 seconds in two 40-yard dashes at the scouting combine.
• Sleeper: Bethune-Cookman’s Ryan Davis (6-2½, 259) had 12 sacks and 21½ tackles for loss as a defensive end last season, and working out for pro scouts at the University of Miami’s pro day he moved well at the outside linebacker position and was good enough in measurables (35-inch vertical and 4.8-seconds) to get a shot as a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.
Ted Thompson hasn’t drafted an outside linebacker in the first half of an NFL draft since he traded up to the 26th pick of the first round in 2009 for Clay Matthews when the Green Bay Packers were switching to their 3-4 defense.
It’s a pretty safe bet the Packers’ general manager will draft someone at the key playmaking position high again this year, possibly even with his first-rounder at No. 28 overall.
Thompson isn’t one to draft solely for need with his top pick, but based on the Packers’ decline on defense last season, he can draft the best defensive player available at No. 28 overall and help his team. And there’s a decent chance that best defensive player will be one of several outside pass rushers who to one degree or another project to outside linebacker in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme.
The questions are, which ones will be available? And how much does Thompson value pass rush as opposed to all-around ability that includes playing coverage in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense?
By the time the Packers pick, South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, who’s generally regarded as the top 3-4 outside linebacker and 4-3 defensive end prospect, will be long gone. After that, it’s up in the air, though Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw and Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus look like good bets to be off the board also.
Some scouts question whether Upshaw, at anywhere from 272 to 279 pounds, is too big to play well in space as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Other scouts dismissed the concerns because he was such a powerful and productive pass rusher. Though some reports had him sliding down draft boards to late in the first round or even early in the second, several scouts said he’s too good and too physically imposing of a player — he can be a 4-3 end also — not to go in the top 20 to 25 picks, at the latest.
History has made scouts wary of one-year wonders such as Mercilus, who last year as a junior had 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles after getting one sack as a rotational player in 2010. But his potential makes it hard to think he’ll make it to 28, either.
After that, there’s a group of probably five linebackers and defensive ends who the Packers will have scrutinized as possible picks at No. 28: Marshall’s Vinny Curry, USC’s Nick Perry, Boise State’s Shea McClellin, Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower and Syracuse’s Chandler Jones. All figure to be late first-round or early second-round picks.
On closer analysis, Jones might be eliminated because at 6-foot-5 3/8 and 266 pounds he fits much better in a 4-3 defense, and scouts even are split on whether he’d fit better as an end and inside pass rusher in a 3-4 rather than at outside linebacker.
After that, though, any combination of Curry, Perry, McClellin and Hightower might be available at No. 28, but it’s not out of the question that all four will be gone. They appear most likely to go anywhere from the early 20s to the first few picks of the second round.
Curry (6-3 1/8, 266) and Perry (6-2¾, 271) played primarily defensive end in college and some scouts question whether they move well enough laterally to handle the coverage responsibilities at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Curry had 11 sacks last season and scores exceptionally well for football character. He ran horribly at the combine (4.92 seconds in the 40, 1.78-second 10-yard split), then at his campus pro day improved to a reported 4.69 seconds on a similar FieldTurf surface (no 10-yard split was available).
“There’s talent there,” a scout said. “I don’t think he’s an ideal 3-4 pass rusher, he’s a little bigger, a little stiffer body type. But its’ a matter of what you’re looking for. Not as stiff and tight as Ingram or Upshaw, but not as loose as a guy like Mercilus.”
Perry is more explosive (4.59 seconds in the 40) and had excellent 10-yards splits of between 1.51 seconds and 1.56 seconds on his 40-yard dashes at the combine — as a benchmark, the Packers’ Matthews had an exceptional 1.49-second split in 2009. But Perry’s times in the short shuttle (4.66 seconds) and three-cone drill (7.28 seconds) suggest his explosiveness is more straight line and were much slower than Curry’s (4.40-second short shuttle, 6.90-second three cone).
“I liked Perry,” a scout said in considering him as a 3-4 prospect, “(but) I like the kid Curry more.”
McClellin (6-3 3/8, 260) has been a late draft board riser this spring. He was listed as a 4-3 end at Boise State but lined up as a two-point linebacker at times and covered plenty. He’s not as explosive an athlete as Curry and Perry but is a more complete and refined player because of his coverage skills entering the draft.
For comparison’s sake, his 10-yard split at the combine was 1.60 seconds, his 40 time 4.66 seconds, his short shuttle 4.33 seconds and his three cone 7.07 seconds.
“He has the outstanding motor,” a scout said of McClellin. “Good measurables. He ran well at the combine and he plays to that speed. A lot of guys can run that, but they don’t play to that speed. This guy plays to that speed. I think this guy is going to be a really good pro. He’s climbing the boards now. At one point you thought he’d be a little bit of a steal because people were going to take him a little bit later and end up with a really good football player.”
Hightower (6-2¼, 265) played more inside linebacker than anything in college, though Alabama sometimes lined him up as an outside rusher on passing downs. Teams seem to like him equally as an inside linebacker in a 4-3 and 3-4, and as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. One scout likened him to Pittsburgh outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who was drafted No. 46 overall in 2007 and received a $22.5 million bonus last summer as part of a new six-year contract.
“That’s what this guy is,” the scout said of the Woodley comparison. “He would fit in the Pittsburgh defense or the Green Bay defense in a heartbeat.”
• Melvin Ingram, South Carolina, 6-1½, 264, Round 1
A likely top 10 to 12 pick as a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 end. “He’s a playmaker and he dominates the game at times,” a scout said. “The Georgia game, he outruns guys that run 10.2(-second) 100(-yard dashes). You have to game plan for him, you have to be aware of where he is all the time. They did a good job, they moved him around so people couldn’t say, ‘He’s (always) on the boundary, we’re going to slide the protection to the boundary, he’s not getting to the quarterback.’” Played some option quarterback among other positions in high school in North Carolina. Went to South Carolina as a linebacker, moved to defensive end in 2009. Finished his career with 21½ sacks, including 8½ last season and nine as a junior. Had 13½ tackles for a loss last year. “You can see his movement skills, former quarterback, he’s athletic,” another scout said. “Great feet, great awareness, he can stab and go, change direction. I watched him at the combine and I saw his spring workout, his movement skills were that of a linebacker.” Missed the 2008 season because of a broken foot. At the combine ran the 40 in 4.71 seconds, had a 34½-inch vertical and 28 bench reps. “He has a lot of ability, very talented, but god dang, he just doesn’t play hard,” a third scout said. “It’s embarrassing at times. At the end of the Georgia game he just quit. It was bad. He acts like he’s some great player, but he’s not. He has ability, but if you watch him he just (loafs). I don’t think he’s the best rusher (in the draft). I think he’s OK. I think he’s a good player, he’ll have more value for a 3-4 (scheme), I don’t think there’s any question about that. He’s got all the ability and all that, and I could see him having a good career. But it bothers you to see guys just (loaf).”
• Whitney Mercilus, Illinois, 6-3 5/8, 261, Round 1
Entering the draft after his true junior season, had only two career sacks going into last year, then exploded for 16 sacks, 22½ tackles for a loss and nine forced fumbles last season. “He’s explosive and quick,” one scout said. “One game he looks like (crap) and the next game he looks like exactly what you draw ’em up to be. You wonder about the one-year wonder deal, it is sort of disturbing. He had one sack one year and 15 the next. Take off and go, though. He’s strong and he’s not chicken-(expletive) or anything. I like him, think he’s a good player.” Parents are Haitian immigrants. “He looked more like a 4-3 end than he did a 3-4 backer,” another scout said. “But a good player. A lot of talent. Good motor, raw, he’ll continue to develop.I saw first round. People draft traits. He has strong traits, first-round traits. The value of the position speaks for itself, somebody that can disrupt the run and rush the passer. He could go top 15.” Ran the 40 in 4.68 seconds, had a 32-inch vertical and did 27 bench reps at the combine. Another scout said he’s similar to but not as good as Aldon Smith, the No. 7 pick overall last year by San Francisco who was an immediate impact player last season with 14 sacks. “(Mercilus is) athletic coming off the edge, good change of direction and burst and everything,” the scout said. “I know what his stats were this year, but I don’t see him doing that (in the NFL). I didn’t see his spring workout to see if he could be an outside linebacker, but (in considering that) you start creeping into awareness, is he aware of the ball and player in space, and receivers coming in and out of zone sectors? Can he move and think on his feet? To me, when you get those guys that had their hand in the dirt and then you stand them up — that’s what he does best, there’s a reason they had him down doing that. I love him athletically I’m just not sure he’s going to be a linebacker.”
• Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, 6-1 5/8, 272, Round 1
A power player who gained seven pounds (to 279) between the combine and Alabama’s pro day, so some scouts are questioning whether he’s an outside linebacker or an end in a 3-4 scheme. “I thought he was going to be an outside guy, but maybe I need to go back and look at him,” a scout said. “He’s strong as (crap) now. He’s a good football player.” As a full-time player the last two seasons had 16½ sacks and 32½ tackles for loss playing end and linebacker. One scout compared his power to former New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas, who had 80 sacks in a 10-year career. “I haven’t seen a kid that strong since that (Douglas),” the scout said. “There’s nothing not to like about (Upshaw). He didn’t have a great pro day, I know he didn’t run well, he got too heavy. But the tape is strong. He was the best defensive player on the best defense in the country. Usually that speaks volumes.” Another scout, though, saw almost the opposite. “A lot of people I talk to love this guy, they’ve got him high,” the scout said. “He’s got short-area burst and acceleration off the edge, he’s a short-armed (32½ inches) guy. Every time I look at his film, I see something I don’t like. I don’t know where you play him. He can’t play a 3-4 outside linebacker, he can’t play a normal outside linebacker in a 4-3, and he might be too short-armed — and he plays short-armed — to come off the edge as a (4-3) defensive end. I had him in the top 32, but I’ve dropped him down because I can’t figure him out.” Didn’t work out at the combine, then on campus ran the 40 in 4.77 seconds, had a 27½-inch vertical and a 4.6-second short shuttle, so he’s not an explosive athlete despite his power. Another scout said a 3-4 team playing him at outside linebacker would have to use him only on short zone drops in pass coverage, like Pittsburgh uses James Harrison. “He’s strong, so he has a nice power rush to him, and he brings good effort,” the scout said. “He’s not the athletic guy. I think he’ll get better using his hands, but right now he’s got strong hands, strong arms, he’s got natural leverage. His is more of a power rush and for those weak tackles he’s got a knack for leveraging them and pushing them back into the quarterback. But he’s not a speed rusher.” Both he and his girlfriend were arrested for domestic assault in 2009 after an altercation on campus that police witnessed; charges were eventually dropped by both sides.
• Vinny Curry, Marshall 6-3 1/8, 266, Rounds 1-2
Played with his hand down as a defensive end in college. “Everybody from the custodian to the women in academics, everybody (at Marshall) loves that kid,” a scout said. “Came there as a (nonqualifier academically), ended up with a 4.0 the last quarter. And he’s a great kid and he can play and he plays really hard. I don’t know about his ceiling, but I know I like him. I like that kid, he has some special to him. I don’t know if he’ll be a great one or not, but I like him.” As a three-year starter had 49 tackles for loss and 26 sacks, including 22 and 11 last year. Also forced seven fumbles in ’11. “Very talented,” another scout said. “ Natural pass rusher, a little spotty but he could come in the league and light it up like a Charles Haley. He can light it up, he can rush the passer. A ton of talent.” Ran the 40 in a terrible 4.92 seconds at the combine but improved it 4.69 seconds on campus. “He picked his moments to go hard, and when he went he did a heck of a job,” a scout said. “Pretty good size. I thought he had an inconsistent motor, the way he was able to get away with things on that level. But there’s talent there. I don’t think he’s a first-round guy. I saw him as a second-round guy because there’s a little bit of a project there and a learning curve.” Said another scout: “I always struggle with these (defensive ends) when you say you want to play them up (as a 3-4 outside linebacker). Most of those guys fail or just become average. He has a ton of talent, but when he’s most effective is when he’s rushing down. Could he play a 3-4? Yeah, he’s got that kind of talent. But when you start messing around with those guys, stand ’em up, they seem to go away pretty quick.”
• Nick Perry, USC, 6-2¾, 271, Round 1-2
Opened his career at the elephant position, where the Packers’ Clay Matthews played as a senior at USC, but then moved to defensive end when Lane Kiffin took over as coach. “I like him (as a first-rounder),” a scout said. “I watch him play and thought they tried to do too much with him (at USC), but I think he’s a good player. They had him reading a lot , but I like him. I don’t know if he’s truly dynamic but I think he’s a good player.” Redshirt junior had 21½ sacks in his career, including leading the Pac-12 last season with 9½. Also had 29½ tackles for a loss in his career. Impressed some teams by showing a hard edge when challenged in interviews. “I like guys like that,” one scout said. “I think he’s a good player, I think he’s an honest player and he’s going to be a good player for somebody.” At the combine ran the 40 in an excellent 4.59 seconds, had an explosive 38½-inch vertical and did 35 bench reps, which tied for second most among defensive linemen at the combine. However, his lateral quickness is suspect for outside linebacker. “At 271 pounds as an outside linebacker? I don’t see it,” another scout said. “That’s where he’s coming into the league. He’s going to be 280 probably before training camp. If he can make that transition to outside linebacker, wow.”
• Shea McClellin, Boise State, 6-3 3/8, 260, Round 1-2
Three-year starter lined up all over in Boise State’s defense, rushed the passer some and looked fine playing his share of coverage “Shoot, yeah, he’s a football player,” one scout said. “As a defensive end, I don’t know. All I know is that guy can play football. Whoever gets him has a really good football player. The guy can rush, the guy can cover, the guy can make plays on his feet. He’s just an old-fashioned good football player. I don’t know if he’ll ever go to a Pro Bowl, but you’ll be glad he’s on your team.” Had 16½ sacks his final two years, including seven last season. “He’s got everything you want as far as movement and balance,” another scout said. “Teach him some more hand skills and he’ll be fine. He’s an interesting guy. Big sucker that can run.” At the combine ran plenty fast in the 40 (4.66 seconds), was only OK in the vertical (31½ inches) and average at best on the bench (19 reps). “I think (late first round) is a little high, but I can see why people would get enamored with him,” a scout said. “It’s not hard. As a 3-4 team, I don’t know, I might like him (better than Curry and Perry). He played the quarterback on the option against somebody, and the quarterback got ready to pitch, he just jumped up and knocked the pitch down and recovered the fumble. That’s a play you don’t see every year. He’s just a good player, smart as hell. (Scouts in interviews) questioned him on all his drops, rushes, he’s all over it, he’s all in.”
• Dont’a Hightower, Alabama, 6-2¼, 265, Rounds 1-2
Versatile player who was a starter all three seasons he was healthy and can play any linebacker position, even outside in a 3-4 scheme. “I think he can (play 3-4 outside linebacker),” one scout said. “I think he can rush the passer, because when you watch Alabama’s tape, that’s what they did with him in the subpackages, they moved him outside and let him rush the passer. He got a lot of pressure on the quarterback and on the pocket from the outside.” Last season for major college football’s top-ranked defense had 81 tackles, 9½ tackles for loss and three sacks. Some scouts like him as a top-25 pick because he’s a first-round prospect as an inside linebacker in the 3-4 and 4-3. “He’s got good awareness,” another scout said. “Watching his drill work on his pro day, this guy moves really smooth for a guy 265. I just like his size and his girth. Everybody calls him a thumper, he’s not that. He can be taught to be that, but a lot of linebackers aren’t being taught that at the college level, they’re more slip and dodge, avoid guys, get to the ball, forget standing there and whacking a guard, he’s going to tie you up. I just have Hightower slightly ahead of (Boston College’s Luke) Kuechley (at inside linebacker).” Hightower was a medical redshirt his sophomore season because of torn left ACL in Week 4. Ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds and had a 32-inch vertical at the combine. “I think he’s just OK,” a third scout said. “He’s not going to be a difference maker. He could go (late first) but he didn’t have a good junior year, he stayed in, and he didn’t have a great senior year.It was OK. Could he go in the first? Yeah, there’s so few linebackers, but I didn’t think he was a first-round football player.”
• Chandler Jones, Syracuse 6-5 3/8, 266, Rounds 1-2
Has long arms (35½ inches) and appears best suited for a 4-3 defensive end, though some scouts still think he could play either outside linebacker or defensive end in a 3-4. “Size is really good,” a scout said. “I want him to be a little bit quicker, he’s got good straight-line movement. Change of direction and moving laterally is a little stiff, not bad for a guy that’s 6-5. He’s definitely a second-round guy, those guys don’t last long. Either 4-3 or 3-4 end. He can play inside, they reduced him inside and he can rush the passer in sub packages. He can do it.” Three-year starter had 10 career sacks, including 4½ last season after missing five games because of a knee injury sustained in the opener. One brother, Arthur, is a defensive lineman for Baltimore, and another, Jon, is a light heavyweight world champion in the UFC. One longtime scout called him the best interview he’s had at the combine. “You talk about a mature person now. Wow,” the scout said. “Plays his (butt) off, plays hard. I don’t think he’s explosive and I don’t think he’ll be a dynamic rusher but a good player you’d want on your team, a good, solid core player.He only weighed 255 at his pro day because he’d been sick, but honestly, outstanding human being. God he’s a good kid and a good football player, just not a dynamic freak.” Ran the 40 in 4.83 seconds at the combine, which is marginal speed for a 3-4 outside linebacker, though his short shuttle (4.38 seconds) and three cone (7.07 seconds) weren’t bad for the position. “He’s a down guy, he’s a 4-3 (end),” another scout said.
• Andre Branch, Clemson, 6-4 1/8, 259, Rounds 1-2
Talented athlete but suspect toughness and desire. “The kid has a lot of physical ability, and when he wants to play, he can dominate,” one scout said, “and when he doesn’t want to play, he’s a turd.That’s basically the MO of a lot of Clemson football players. I hate to say that, but it’s true.” Two-year starter, last season had 17 tackles for a loss and 10½ sacks, and 7½ and five his junior year. “He had a game against Virginia Tech where they couldn’t block him,” another scout said. “That’s when he came to the forefront. You look at him, he’s got pretty good size. He doesn’t have the foot quickness or lower-body flexibility that you’d like in a pass rusher. A little bit of a soft body. He’s flashed enough to say he’s got some potential, but he needs a little better work ethic. I think there’s a little bit of a gamble with him.” Ran the 40 in 4.69 seconds at the combine, had a 32½-inch vertical and did 19 bench reps. Has long (34-inch) arms and the talent to play 4-3 end or 3-4 outside linebacker. “He just doesn’t play hard, it’s pathetic,” a third scout said. “I don’ t know. He might just be OK. I don’t like him because he acts like hot (stuff).They were bench pressing at the combine and he’s screaming and hollering and acting like he’s going to get all these reps, whatever he got he racked the bar and started screamin’, cussin’, a big show. He seemed like a prima donna guy.”
• Bruce Irvin, West Virginia, 6-3, 245, Rounds 2-3
Maybe the most explosive outside rusher in this draft, but one-dimensional and could be a major off-the-field risk. “He’s almost cartoon-like, he can fly,” one scout said. “We all thought he was 6-1, 230-something, he walks across the stage at the combine, 6-3 even, 248, something like that, everybody almost (expletive). They tried at West Virginia to make him a three-down player but they couldn’t do it. So somebody’s going to take him real high just to play third down.” Didn’t finish his high school career and dropped out because of academic issues, was arrested for robbery and eventually decided to return to football. Earned his GED, walked on at a junior college, then in two seasons at West Virginia had 21½ sacks, including 14 as a junior. “Bruce is probably the most athletic, explosive edge guy coming out,” another scout said. “But he is tall and linear, a tall, narrow guy. If he’s going to play the run, he’s going to play it on the way to the quarterback. So he’s not a guy to say, ‘Hey take on the pulling guard,’ or anything like that. But he can get off on the ball and he can run like a son of a gun.” West Virginia helped him rehabilitate his image last year and he came across as genuine when teams confronted him about his past in interviews. But then he was arrested less than a month after the combine for destruction of property and disorderly conduct for breaking a sign at a sandwich shop near campus. “I would (worry about him off the field),” a scout said. “He said he’s got his (stuff) straightened out, then after the combine he’s back in the hoosegow. If somebody said he had 12 sacks (as a rookie), I’d believe it. He’s just so overwhelmingly, incredibly fast. Eats up yards and can corner like a cat. He just can’t play first and second down.”
• Luke Kuechly, Boston College, 6-3¼, 242, Round 1
Junior entry might be the most instinctive defensive player in this draft and looks likely to go in the top half of the first round. “He’s a very smart kid, he’s physical, he understands the game,” one scout said. “He’s a good player. Now is he going to be Ray Lewis? No. He doesn’t have the physical tools to do it. But he’s going to be an every-down linebacker that’s going to give you eight or nine or 10 years, and he’s not going to beat you. But I don’t know if he’s ever going to play in the Pro Bowl. You can cut (block) him like wood, he has some stiffness. But I like the guy, he respects the game.” Started all three years and had an off-the-charts 532 tackles in three seasons, including 191 last year. Had seven interceptions and 2½ sacks for his career. “He’s a little bit of anomaly because he’s an inside guy who can close on the ball no matter where the ball is,” another scout said. “If you’re trying to get outside, he can get there. I wouldn’t call him Ray Lewis but in that mold. When Ray first came out he was a sideline-to-sideline type guy, that’s what this guy is, a run-and-hit guy more than a take-on guy. And he’s smart and can make the checks and all that.” Was given the chance to run a third 40-yard dash at the combine after he slipped starting his second run, and on the third try ran 4.60 seconds. Also had an impressive 38-inch vertical jump and did 27 bench reps. “I like him,” a third scout said. “He’s athletic, extremely intense. Obviously productive, instinctive. But I like (Alabama’s Dont’a) Hightower better. I like the size better. They run about the same.”
• Zach Brown, North Carolina 6-1¼, 244, Rounds 2-3
Raw, fast prospect who holds the school track record for the 60-meter dash in 6.72 seconds. “A lot of people I’ve talked to are up and down on him,” a scout said, “but I liked his athleticism, I liked his size, his speed. Sometimes you see the instincts and you go, ‘What the hell is going on?’ Other times you’re like, ‘Whoa, where did that come from?’ He can close on the ball, he can play in space.’” At least some scouts think he can play a 3-4 outside linebacker despite weighing 244 pounds, which is light for that position. “This guy’s a natural 3-4 outside linebacker,” one scout said. “He can rush the passer. I’d put him outside in both (3-4 and 4-3) defenses. He can come off that edge real well, they’ll be able to teach him, he’s just too athletic.Explosive, extremely athletic guy, outstanding cover skills in space. I see his movements skills are like a safety almost.” Despite his physical talent became a full-time starter only as a senior, when he had 105 tackles, 13½ tackles for loss, 5½ sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles. At the combine ran the 40 in 4.49 seconds and had a 33½-inch vertical, then on campus ran 4.49 again and had a 35-inch vertical. One scout disliked Browns’ character and said he clashes with teammates. “He’s not well liked by his teammates, he’s a me guy,” the scout said.
• Mychal Kendricks, California, 5-11 1/8, 239, Round 3
Short but fast inside linebacker. Had the best combine performance at the position with a 4.46-second 40, 39½-inch vertical jump, 10-7 broad jump. Moved from outside linebacker to inside last year and finished with 106 tackles, 14½ tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, one fumble forced and two fumbles recovered. His father was a running back for UCLA in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. “He’s a little short, obviously,” a scout said, “but so was (London) Fletcher and so was Sam Mills and some of these other guys. But he runs so well. Probably bottom of the third. He’s a productive guy.”
• Lavonte David, Nebraska 6-0 5/8, 233, Round 3
Junior entry showed good pass-rush abilities in college but probably doesn’t have the frame to play as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He’s probably a will linebacker for a 4-3 team. Ran the 40 in 4.59 seconds and had a 36½-inch vertical jump at the combine. Also did 19 bench-press reps. Played at a junior college because he didn’t qualify academically, then transferred to Nebraska, where he was an immediate starter. In his two seasons as a 4-3 linebacker for Nebraska combined for 28 tackles for loss and 11½ sacks. “He’s got a little ornery cuss in him,” a scout said. “He snapped up a couple guys at the Senior Bowl and ran and chased and played real well in space.He’s not a bad football player, I kind of like him. A little smaller, built more like a safety than an outside linebacker. I said the same thing about the guy that came out of TCU (in 2010), (Daryl) Washington, that’s starting for Arizona. He was only 219 pounds coming out, now he’s 235, 240. These guys get bigger.”
• Terrell Manning, North Carolina State, 6-2 1/8, 237, Round 4
Injured his knee early in the season, had arthroscopic surgery, then returned in three weeks and was North Carolina State’s best defensive player the rest of the season. Entering the draft after his junior season. As a starter the last two years had 25 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Not big enough for a 3-4 outside linebacker. At the combine ran the 40 in 4.75 seconds, had a 32½-inch vertical and did 22 bench reps. “Has five brothers and mom that live in trailer in North Carolina,” one scout said. “Very good in coverage. Very instinctive. Likes football, and he’s physical and really athletic.”
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