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2013 DRAFT PREVIEW: LBs

MLB Overview:  For a variety of reasons, MLB has not really been considered to be a premium positon come draft day by most NFL teams. Indeed, only 4 true MLBs were selected in the opening round of the past 5 drafts combined. Things may be looking up for the position, though, as two MLBs - Luke Kuechly of Boston College who was selected 9th overall by Carolina and Donta' Hightower, the former Alabama star who was taken with the 25th pick by New England - at the 2012 draft. And, at least on paper, this year could be one of the deepest drafts in a long while for the position. For strarters, Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, a one-time superstar recruit who has more than lived up to the hype, is currently rated as a mid-first round prospect for the upcoming draft. The Irish star is a real thumper who has amassed over 300 career tackles. Some pro scouts, though, still aren't ttally sold on Te'o as an elite prospect because of questions about his agility and overall athleticism, plus the fact while he is a prototype tackling machine, he has never been all that productive in coverage.

Meanwhile, Shane Skov of Stanford, who is probably a better athlete than Te'o, could also figure in the late first round discussion next April, but he has some things to prove this year after he tore up a knee early last season and then was arrested on a DUI charge in February. Indeed, Skov likely will slip into the second day pickings where he should head up a strong group of second-tier MLBs that could include Kevin Reddick of North Carolina, the Alabama duop of Nico Johnson and junior C.J. Mosely, and Kansas State's Arthur Brown. And that group could get downright crowded if Bruce Taylor of Virginia Tech and Penn State's Michael Mauti are healthy and/or stumpy Wisconsin junior Chris Borland opts to enter the upcoming draft. For the record, Va Tech's Taylor, one of the few full-sized senior MLBs in the country, missed the latter half of the 2011 season and spring practice this year with a Lisfranc fracture in his foot, while Mauti missed the latter half of the past season with his second career torn ACL.

Top 15 MLB Prospects
#
Player
H/W
School
CL
1
Manti Te'O 6-2, 255 Notre Dame SR
2
Shane Skov 6-2, 250 Stanford SR
3
Kevin Reddick 6-2, 240 North Carolina SR
4
C.J. Mosley 6-2, 235 Alabama JR
5
Arthur Brown 6-1, 230 Kansas State SR
6
Chris Borland 5-11, 250 Wisconsin JR
7
Nico Johnson 6-2, 245 Alabama SR
8
Bruce Taylor 6-2, 255 Virginia Tech SR
9
Michael Mauti 6-2, 240
Penn State
SR
10
Jon Bostic 6-1, 245
Florida SR
11
Kenny Demens 6-1, 250
Michigan
SR
12
A. J. Klein 6-1, 245
Iowa State
SR
13
Steve Greer 6-2, 230
Virginia SR
14
Will Compton
6-2, 230
Nebraska
SR
15
Demetrius Hartsfield
6-1, 240
Maryland
SR

OLB Overview: There are pretty good odds that several players designated OLBs will be taken very early at the upcoming draft. The top prospects listed as OLBs are all 3-4 rush LB types such as Jarvis Jones of Georgia and LSU's Barkevious Mingo. On the other hand, there are no traditional 4-3 OLBs who could be considered locks to be taken in this year's opening round, although both Sean Porter of Texas A&M and Penn State's Gerald Hodges may not be all that far off. Neither is particualrly big for a pro LB with Porter listed at 6-2, 230 and Hodges at 6-1, 235, but both can really run; indeed, each is projected to run under 4.60 seconds for the 40; for good measure, both are also physical players with good instincts and motors, while Porter in particular is a very good pass rusher.

There is a something to the next level of 4-3 OLBs, few of whom are likely to be taken much before the latter par of the second-day. However, the 'fast, but smallish' description that applies to Porter and Hodges remains a rather fitting theme for this year's second-tier 4-3 OLB group that includes  Khaseem Greene of Rutgers, Florida junior Jelani Jenkins, Zaviar Gooden of Missouri and Illinois jnior Jonathan Brown. Gooden, who hopes to run under 4.5 in the 40 at pre-draft testing, for example, is especially likely to create a splash at the combine, but no one in the latter group is a slouch. There are several other interesting mid-to-late OLB prospects with some upside including Kenny Tate of Maryland, a one-time All-America type safety who has switched to LB but could get some looks at his old position when he gets to the pros. Meanwhile, guys like Mike Taylor of Wisconsin, Sio Moore of UConn and Iowa State Jake Knott just make plays.
 

Top 15 4-3 OLB Prospects
#
Player
H/W
School
CL
1
Sean Porter 6-2, 230 Texas A&M SR
2
Gerald Hodges 6-1, 235 Penn State SR
3
Khaseem Greene
6-0, 235
Rutgers
SR
4
Jelani Jenkins 6-0, 235 Florida JR
5
Zaviar Gooden 6-2, 230 Missouri SR
6
Jonathan Brown 6-1, 235 Illinois JR
7
Alonzo Highsmith 6-0, 235
Arkansas
SR
8
Davonte Holloman 6-2, 230 South Carolina SR
9
Kevin Pough 6-2, 235 Howard SR
10
Kenny Tate
6-3, 220 Maryland SR
11
Jake Knott
6-2, 245
Iowa State
SR
12
Mike Taylor
6-1, 225
Wisconsin
SR
13
Sio Moore
6-1, 235
UConn
SR
14
LaRoy Reynolds
6-2, 230
Virginia
SR
15
Christian Robinson
6-2, 230
Georgia
SR

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