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2012 NFL Combine Review: Linebackers

Steve Shoup

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Linebackers who looked good:

Zach Brown:

Brown ran in the 4,4’s and looked very fast and quick in all the drills. He definitely could hear his name called in the first round with the way his stock is moving. He’s a better fit for a 4-3 team at an outside spot, but his coverage ability could intrigue some 3-4 teams as well.

Luke Kuechly:

Kuechly wasn’t expected to put up great workout numbers, but he ran in the 4.5’s, and finished near the top of every workout drill. During positional drills he looked exceptional, and is easily a top 10 player and a top 15 pick in April’s draft. He fits either a 34, or 43 team and will be an instant starter.

Donta Hightower:

Hightower was expected to run a bad 40 time, but he finished in the 4.6’s and showed better quickness then what people gave him credit for. He had a few miscues in positional drills, but I think he answered questions about being a 3-down LB, and able to play in any scheme.

Mychal Kendricks:

Kendricks had an exceptional combine, absolutely dominating every drill. He should be flying up draft boards with this performance and is a legitimate 3rd round pick. He should develop into a starter with in the first two years, and really opened up some doors for himself here.

Ronnell Lewis:

Lewis had some negative reports coming out of Oklahoma, but I thought he answered them with a really strong combine showing. He can definitely get after the quarterback with his 4.6 speed, and exceptional quickness. He projects best as a 3-4 rush linebacker at the next level.

LB’s that disappointed:

Vontaze Burfict:

Burfict who has a number of red flags due to attitude, looked pretty awful in both workouts and drills. He went from being a top 40 player to possibly out of the top 125. He was both slow and lacked strength which is a huge red flag.

Audie Cole:

Cole looked a lot slower than he has in the past, and while he’s got nice instincts some teams will question whether he can run with tight ends and running backs.

Travis Lewis:

Lewis looked to be a solid mid-round pick for an undersized ILB, or WLB, who could be effective in coverage. His 4.88 40 time though raises some question marks about his ability to do that at the next level. It didn’t kill his stock by any means, but it is a time he needs to work on for his pro day.

Emmanuel Acho:

Now it isn’t Acho’s fault, but he came up lame after running his 2nd 40, which took him out of doing some of the positional work and other workouts. Considering how some other ILB’s struggled it would have been a chance to boost his stock. I don’t think teams will really knock him, but it does keep him from rising.

Sean Spence:

Spence was a very productive (albeit small) LB in college. He broke on the ball well and looked to have good ball skills. Unfortunately a really low bench number, and average 40 time is not what he needed. Teams will question both his lack of size and his strength and wonder if he can hold up at the next level. He’s going to be very scheme specific, profiling best in a Tampa 2 type of scheme.



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