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    2007 DRAFT PROSPECT PROFILES: MLBs

(Ed note: Players not necessarily listed in order of grade)

Patrick Willis, Mississippi… 6-1, 242, 4.51, SR… Thought about entering the 2006 draft after leading the entire nation in solo tackles the previous year when he piled up 128 overall stops. Opted to return for his senior season where he has continued to be one of the most productive defensive players in the country racking up another 137 total tackles including 3 sacks and 8 other tackles for loss. Willis has decent size at 6-1, 240 and even better speed for a MLB with a 40 clocking in the 4.5 range. Very athletic player who was a star RB and receiver in high school where he was also an honorable mention all-state basketball player. Fluid player who can play in space; can change direction and has sideline-to-sideline range. Plays with an attitude. Gets good drops in coverage and can run with most RBs and TEs but isn't that instinctive breaking on the ball; aggressive run defender who often beats the blocking to the point of attack; needs to do a better job shedding blockers and can be slow to pick up the ball when working in traffic; tough player but doesn’t always wrap up when he tackles; also will gamble at times and take poor angles to the ball. And while nominally a MLB could be an even better OLB prospect at the next level where he could advantage of his athletic skills in space, although he has never been known as a big sacker. Only real question regarding Willis is durability as he has been banged up on occasion. Missed spring practice this year recovering from foot surgery; also had a broken finger, and a shoulder problem last fall. Summary: Easily the top senior LB in the country who is currently carrying a solid mid-first round grade.

Paul Posluszny, Penn State 6-1.5, 238, 4.70, SR… Entered the season considered by many to be a potential top 10 prospect for the 2007 draft, but struggled to regain the form that made him a consensus All-American in 2006 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament suffered in the Nittany Lions’ bowl game last January. Also started the season lining up at SSLB where he wasn’t as comfortable as he was in the middle. Posluszny is a weight room warrior who has bulked up to almost 240 pounds; is also a tough player who is a solid tackler in the open field; smart player who always seems to be around the ball; has excellent instincts and flows easily to the ball; agile athlete who slices through traffic and uses hands well to fend off blockers; mostly a sideline-to-sideline type who takes good pursuit angles; more quick than fast with an average 40 clocking in the 4.7 range; times better in agility drills and has a 37-inch vertical leap, however, Posluszny doesn’t really have explosive upfield quickness and doesn’t make many plays in the backfield; reasonably fluid in coverage and gets good drops, but doesn’t break on the ball that well when playing in reverse; Posluszny is also a great character player who is also a standout in the classroom. Summary: Tough as nails kid with great character but lacks the next gear that separated 2006 top 10 LBs A.J. Hawk and Ernie Sims; still should be good value in the late first or early second round area. Health status will also be a big factor as knee will be thoroughly checked out at combine.

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