2012 Draft Profile: Inside Linebackers

I was really excited about doing this profile because I knew it would mean we are looking at a replacement for Barrett Ruud.  Last week, I had discussed Safety prospects and it was interesting because I caught myself paying more attention to them in their respective games last weekend.  Both Robert Lester and Mark Barron recorded interceptions in the game against LSU, while Ray-Ray Armstrong tallied his first interception of the season against Duke. T.J. McDonald had an decent game, but he also missed the entire first half due to a suspension for a late hit he put on Stanford receiver Chris Owusu the week before.

Now onto inside linebacker prospects, there are four of them that I will be looking at.  The Titans have not had a really good MLB since Randall Godfrey, and with the selection of Akeem Ayers in last year's draft, the linebacker corps could be well on its way to returning to glory.  Follow me through the jump for profiles on each player.

Vontaze Burfict - Arizona State

6-3, 250 lbs

4.63 40 yd dash

Projected: 1st round pick

Highlight video: here

Pros: this, great at stopping the run, recognizes the screen, very athletic, powerful, fast, shows a lot of intensity

Cons: reported maturity issues, sometimes looks confused, so-so in coverage

2011 Stats: 51 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 INT

2010 Stats: 89 tackles, 2 FF

 

Luke Kuechly - Boston College

6-3, 235 lbs

4.72 40 yd dash

Projected: 1st round pick

Highlight video: here

Pros: excellent in pass coverage, sheds blockers well, good awareness on the field

Cons: can over pursue the ball carrier, undersized for a MLB, not the fastest guy

2011 Stats: 150 tackles, 2 INT's

2010 Stats: 183 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 FF, 3 INT's

 

Manti Te'o - Notre Dame

6-2, 245 lbs

4.60 40 yd dash

Projected: 1st or early 2nd round pick

Highlight video: here

Pros: hard hitter, excellent at stopping the run, good in pass coverage, plays with a lot of intensity

Cons: has some difficulty shedding blockers, slightly undersized

2011 Stats: 82 tackles, 4.5 sacks

2010 Stats: 133 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 FF, 2 PBU

 

Dont'a Hightower - Alabama

6-4, 260 lbs

4.85 40 yd dash

Projected: 2nd round pick

Highlight video: here

Pros: excellent at stopping the run, pretty solid in pass coverage as well, powerful

Cons: played in 3-4 defensive scheme, injury prone, not the quickest

2011 Stats: 53 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT

2010 Stats: 70 tackles

 

Well there you have it. I am hoping the Titans address the MLB position in the first round because I think it will really strengthen the defense.  If I had to pick someone right now, I would choose Luke Kuechly.  I mean his stats speak for themselves, 183 tackles last year and he is well on his way to reaching that again this year, if not surpassing it.  He had 20 tackles alone in the game last week against Florida State.  He's like Stephen Tulloch, but he can actually cover a TE. Hey, what a concept!

Feel free to chime in with other inside linebacker prospects you think would be a good fit for the Titans, and thanks for reading guys.

Email me at ryan-sikes@uiowa.edu or follow me @Ryan_Sikes.

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