2010 NFL Combine Analysis: Inside Linebackers
The NFL Combine is behind us, and for many of the young players who put their athleticism on display, draft stocks are fluctuating.
For some, their performance in Indianapolis has garnered a newfound level of attention from scouts and media personnel alike.
For others, their hopes for an early berth rest on a successful Pro Day in the coming weeks.
The Combine is a good time for below-the-radar prospects to showcase their abilities and increase their visibility to those interested.
Here are a few interior linebackers who truly shined at the Combine and others who…well, didn’t.
1. Mike McLaughlin (Boston College)
40-Yard Dash (4.82) Bench Press (29) Vertical Jump (38.5) 3-Cone Drill (6.85)
20-Yard Shuttle (4.11) Broad Jump (9’06″)
McLaughlin has had some problems with injuries, especially towards the end of his career at Boston College, but a good showing at the combine helped his stock significantly. He didn’t lead in any major category, but consistently finished near the top.
The former Eagle wasn’t the most productive defender in college, but he has the athletic tangibles you look for in a balanced interior linebacker. He has a high football IQ and will fit into any defensive scheme.
2. Donald Butler (Washington)
Bench Press (35)
Butler is a testament to the fact that a player’s potential is not cemented in his performance at his respective school. After receiving a late invitation to the Senior Bowl, Butler showed an athletic side of him that was relatively obscure beforehand.
At the combine, Butler declined to participate in all of the performance drills in hopes that a Pro Day showing would carry more weight. However, he did participate at the bench and did not disappoint. He out-benched every linebacker there and all but five offensive lineman.
3. Jamar Chaney (Mississippi State)
40-Yard Dash (4.54) Bench Press (26) Vertical Jump (39.0) 3-Cone Drill (6.90)
20-Yard Shuttle (4.29) 60-Yard Shuttle (11.46)
Chaney is one of the most experienced and productive linebackers coming into this year’s draft. He was the defensive focal point at Mississippi State and will look to carry that responsibility into the next level, something he may find difficult as a rookie in a league full of testosterone-driven leadership.
Chaney performed well at the combine, leading all linebackers in the 40-yard dash and posting up top numbers in every other major category. He’ll look to improve some of those numbers at his Pro Day, but overall, he did very well in Indianapolis.
4. Josh Hull (Penn State)
40-Yard Dash (4.91) Bench Press (25) Vertical Jump (32.5) 3-Cone Drill (6.86)
20-Yard Shuttle (4.07) 60-Yard Shuttle (11.31)
Hull had a mixed performance at the combine. He had a relatively slow time at the 40-yard dash and then led the board with his 20-yard and 60-yard shuttle.
The former Nittany Lion will likely look to his Pro Day to improve that 40-yard, but, at the Combine, scouts saw a guy who can eliminate space quickly and eat up the zone coverage.
He doesn’t have elite strength nor does he have especially attractive size, but he will be an instant contributor on special teams and, eventually, Hull will be an excellent coverage linebacker in the NFL.
5. Kion Wilson (South Florida)
40-Yard Dash (4.85) Bench Press (27) Vertical Jump (36.5)
Wilson is a relatively unknown prospect, mostly due to the level of defensive talent that surrounded him at USF and the fact that he spent his first two years playing at a community college.
Wilson really shined at the Senior Bowl, though, and his performance at the Combine is only helping his draft stock. He is a hard worker who has an ever-running motor. He doesn’t take plays off and his work ethic, paired with exceptional athleticism for his size, gives Wilson a chance to be taken early in the second day of the draft.
1. Lee Campbell (Minnesota)
40-Yard Dash (4.89) Bench Press (17 )
Campbell came into the draft picture as one of the fastest linebackers who could excel in coverage and be physical in open space. At the combine, though, Campbell looked sluggish and his performance at the bench didn’t necessarily translate to “physical.”
He will still have a chance to improve his stock at Minnesota’s Pro Day, but the former Golden Gopher can only watch his stock drop for now.
2. Micah Johnson (Kentucky)
40-Yard Dash (4.99) Bench Press (31) Vertical Jump (29.0)
Johnson showed a new shade of physicality at the Combine, but he also posted the slowest 40-yard of all the linebackers. Many consider Johnson to be a versatile linebacker who can play inside/outside, but at his current speed, the former Wildcat is looking at a job as a rotation man, at best.
At 258 pounds, Johnson is an imposing prospect; his tape shows a defender with a hard hit and a legitimate mean streak. He has the chance to go early on day two of the draft, but will need to improve his speed to do so.
3. Pat Angerer (Iowa)
40-Yard Dash (4.69) Bench Press (26) 20-Yard Shuttle (4.29)
Like most other products of Kirk Ferentz’s defense, Angerer isn’t considered a superstar by any means. Rather, most view him as a balanced defender with the potential to be a consistent contributor at the next level.
However, Angerer’s performance at the Combine gave him the appearance of the over sized, lumbering linebacker that needs to drastically improve his quickness. The tape shows a guy who can be quick and agile in tight spaces, but if the former Hawkeye intends to play middle linebacker in the NFL, he’ll need to improve his lateral speed.
4.Nathan Triplett (Minnesota)
40-Yard Dash (4.74) Bench Press (20) Broad Jump (9’07″)
Like his Golden Gopher counterpart, Lee Campbell, Triplett did not have the best showing at the combine. He was boring, to say the least. There wasn’t a major category posting that stood out and Triplett will likely look to Minnesota’s Pro Day to improve his stock.
Triplett has the speed (on tape) and the size to be effective at the next level, but only time will tell whether or not others feel the same.
5. Phillip Dillard (Nebraska)
40-Yard Dash (4.64) Vertical Jump (31.5) Broad Jump (8’07″)
A late invitation to the 2010 Senior Bowl was a good indication of Dillard’s potential and, while his performance wasn’t dominant, he made a good showing and looked to do the same at the combine. Instead, he posted marginal numbers and is now the proud owner of a stagnant draft stock.
Dillard’s speed is his forte and, thus, is the number on trial. He didn’t necessarily disappoint with his 40-yard dash, but scouts expected better and weren’t impressed at all with his lower body strength at the broad jump. He has a strong desire to play the game and will most likely make a better showing at Nebraska’s Pro Day.