2011 NFL Combine - Inside Linebacker Analysis
Illinois LB Martez Wilson
Illinois LB Martez Wilson
Posted Mar 1, 2011

Combine quick looks at the defensive ends invited to Indy.

2011 NFL Combine

Inside Linebacker Rankings

2011 NFL Combine Results
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | Cs | OTs | OGs 
- DEs | DTs | ILBs | OLBs | Ss | CBs

2011 NFL Combine Position Analysis
- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | Cs | OTs | OGs 
- DEs | DTs | ILBs | OLBs | Ss | CBs

1. Martez Wilson, Illinois (OLB) 6-4, 250
Positives: Elite athleticism and great size. He's the prototype with the flat out speed and the bulk that everyone is looking for. … Will fight off blocks and will get to the play. He makes big tackles and is great in the open field. … Hits with a load. He could be a blow-him-up hitter when he gets to the next level. Was an elite prospect out of high school and is still scratching the surface.
Negatives: A neck injury cost him all of 2009. He's a big, physical player, and he might have a short shelf life. … Not quite as smooth as many might like. He's fast and athletic, but he's not exactly fluid. … Not as instinctive as some might like. He has gotten by simply by having better tools than anyone else. There's a big-time upside to his game and his skills, but he'll need some developing and might take a big step back before he takes a huge leap forward.

2. Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina 6-1, 241
Positives: A very tough, very good tackler. He doesn't miss any stops and was a high producer for a strong defense. … Moves well in traffic. Is able to get through the trash to come up with a play. He finds ways to come up with the hit. … Knows what he's doing and is a natural football player. He doesn't take many wasted steps.
Negatives: Got bigger this offseason. Played about ten pounds lighter and has to prove he can produce and be as quick with the bigger bulk. … Not an elite athlete. He's not necessarily a sideline-to-sideline player and makes most of his plays between the hashes. … Had a hamstring problem last year. He might have a short shelf life with the way he plays.

3. Greg Jones, Michigan State 6-0, 242
Positives: Ultra-productive. One of the best linebackers in college football over the last three years and had a tremendous four-year run making 465 stops. … A leader and instinctive. He knows exactly what to do and he knows how to help out everyone around him. He doesn't take a wasted step. … Doesn't miss a stop. If he gets to the ball, it's over.
Negatives: Not all that big. He's not athletic enough to work on the outside and he doesn't have brutish raw strength to be anyone's middle linebacker. He might need to work in a 3-4. … Best when battling to get to the ball. He's not necessarily going to chase down too many NFL ball carriers. … Can get erased by anyone who locks on. He's slippery, but he needs to always keep moving.

4. Kelvin Sheppard, LSU (OLB) 6-2, 250
Positives: A great hitter and an intimidating force. It seemed like he was in on every defensive play for LSU over the last two years and he always seemed to be around when every big play happened. … Ultimate motor. A high-energy, high-effort defender who brings it every practice and every play. … Gets to the ball. Good in space and has an instinctive knack for getting to the ball.
Negatives: A better football player than an athlete. There might be a hard ceiling on what he can become and what he can do. He should be very good, but he's not likely to be special. … Not all that bulky. He's a tall, lanky player who doesn't have too much room to get much bigger. Not bulky and doesn't have a great base. … Not a strong pass defender. He sniffs out the plays, but he doesn't always get there until it's a half-step too late. Makes lots of plays down the field.

5. Casey Matthews, Oregon 6-1, 231
Positives: A great playmaker who makes things happen in key times. He's a disruptive force who owns the defense. Everyone works around him. … He has his family's work ethic. He's always going to hustle and he's always going to bring the A effort. … A natural leader who does everything asked of him. He has just enough size and the right instincts to be someone's middle linebacker for the next several years.
Negatives: He's not his brother, Clay. He's not a pass rusher and he's not an outside linebacker in any way. … Not an elite athlete and not all that smooth. He's a baller more than an athlete and he might be given more of a leash than he should because of his bloodlines. … Can get eaten up by blockers. Will be erased when someone locks on him. He needs to get a lot stronger to be a killer on the inside.

6. Chris White, Mississippi State 6-3, 240
Positives: Big and bulky, he has a nice frame and good toughness. He's willing to mix it up and has no problems playing in the scrum. … A decent all-around athlete. He pursues well and he has the speed to get to the ball and make things happen. He's a strong tackler who made 185 stops in two years. … Good range. Will always work to get to the ball and always gives a good effort.
Negatives: Not great at the point of attack. He's tough and willing, but he ends up making the stop yards down the field. .. .Not a pass rusher despite the six sacks he came up with last year. … While he's just versatile enough to get a shot on the outside if needed, he's not an outside linebacker. He should be productive, but he's just a guy. He's not going to be a special linebacker.

7. Colin McCarthy, Miami 6-3, 238
Positives: Excellent want-to. He was an ultra-productive star for Miami, yet he showed in Senior Bowl practices that he's willing to rock on special teams, play inside, outside, wherever. … The energy and fire are always there. He loves being a football player. … Makes all the tackles. He doesn't miss anything he gets to.
Negatives: The athleticism isn't all that great. He doesn't have enough speed for the outside, and he's not all that tough to work on the inside. … Not fluid. He doesn't zip around easily and lumbers a bit too much. … Missed almost all of 2008 with a shoulder injury. He's a willing hitter, but he might bang himself onto injury reserve.

8. Akeem Dent, Georgia 6-3, 242
Positives: A strong player who has no problem taking on blocks. He's physical and he plays strong against the run. … Came through with an extremely productive senior year. Got healthy and he seemed to be in on every play. Fights to get to the ball. … A good leader and a good worker who won't take plays off. He'll bring the energy in every practice.
Negatives: Not a great athlete and is only going to work on the inside. Forget about him as a pass defender. … Not as sure a tackler as many might like. He gets to plays, but he also whiffs too much. … Looks the part, but he has to be surrounded by talented players who funnel things to him.

9. Nick Bellore, Central Michigan 6-1, 245
Positives: A phenomenally productive player. Started all 52 games in his CMU career and made 472 tackles. He was tough, durable, and managed to get on every play. … Moves better than he gets credit for. He doesn't waste a step and he gets around blockers well. … Doesn't miss a tackle. A pure middle linebacker who stops running games cold.
Negatives: Not all that huge. Short, a bit squatty, and had to work to add weight. He's not getting any bigger. … Not a pass rusher and came up with a lot of his tackles well past the line. More of a run tackler than a run stuffer. … Not all that athletic. Has decent speed and quickness, but he'll have to be flanked by speedsters.

10. Mike Mohamed, California 6-3, 239
Positives: A playmaker. He made a ton of tackles for the Bears and he was a pure football player. He has a passion for the position and he'll make things happen whenever he gets a chance. … Great instincts and leadership ability. He's the type of player that good things happen for. … Athletic enough. Doesn't necessarily look the part, but he moves well.
Negatives: Rangy. He's not built for the inside and he's not sudden enough to be a steady outside defender. … Not all that strong and should be eliminated instantly by any NFL blocker. … Okay in pass coverage, but not elite. He's not going to stay with any pro running back for more than a few steps.

11. Greg Lloyd, Connecticut 6-1, 246
Positives: Made a ton of plays when he was healthy. He was a great leader on a strong defensive team. … Bulky without having a problem with the weight. He's a bit squatty, but he carries himself well. … Can be eventually used as a pass rusher. He's not his dad (the other Greg Lloyd) but he has the instincts to be a disruptive force if given a little bit of time.
Negatives: Still trying to get healthy. He wasn't the same playing after a major knee injury two years ago. He still needs to prove he can be as rangy. … Not all that fluid and won't work on the outside. He doesn't have enough quicks to be a pure middle linebacker without help around him. … Makes plays that come to him but he has to do more to get to the ball.

12 Alex Wujciak, Maryland 6-3, 250
Positives: A pure football player. Throw out the measureables and throw out the numbers. He'll see the play and he'll make it. … Goes 100 miles per hour on every play and hits like a ton of bricks. He eats up everyone's running play. … Good enough and strong enough to be a physical presence against a power running team.
Negatives: Not an athlete and will have to come off the field on third downs. Doesn't have the feet. … Forget about him in pass coverage. He might have the instincts, but he's not going to hang with anoyne who runs a precise route. … He's not for everyone. He's a pure inside linebacker who needs to be in the right system.

13. Josh Bynes, Auburn 6-1, 239
Positives: An experienced veteran who saw it all and did it all as the leader of the Tiger defense. He has the energy and the smarts to almost always be in the right spot. … Huge hitter. An intimidating force who blows up ball carriers. A highlight reel blaster. … While he's not all that big, he doesn't get moved around. A rock against the run.
Negatives: Next-level stiff. He doesn't move and he's not nearly agile enough to do more than have things funneled to him on the inside. … Not fast. Even when he gets a straight line shot, it takes him too long to get there. … A big hitter, but not a consistent one. He'll bounce off the play a bit too often.

14. Elijah Joseph, Temple 6-1, 243
Positives: A rock. He's built like a tough inside defender and he looks the part. … Very strong and very secure. When he gets to a ball-carrier, the play is made. He doesn't miss a tackle. … Brings the battle to the offense. He's an high-energy player who's always working.
Negatives: Not the greatest of athletes and doesn't go sideline-to-sidline. He's a middle linebacker only. … Doesn't stop and start in a heartbeat. There's nothing sudden about how he plays. … He doesn't do much of anything against the pass. His only worth is as a run stopper on the inside.

15 Derrell Smith, Syracuse 6-0. 243
Positives: A big hitter who brings the boom. He hustles to the ball and makes an impact when he gets there. … Smart. He sniffs out everything and reacts in a blink. He doesn't make too many major mistakes and is always in the right spot. … Decent all-around size and quickness. He has a little bit of range.
Negatives: Not a flier. He'll make things happen because he'll figure it out, but that doesn't mean he has the quicks to get to the ball until the ball carrier is down the field. … Still learning. He's a former running back and worked in several other spots. He's still learning the sublte nuances of playing inside. … Doesn't cut on a dime. He lumbers a bit to change direction.

16. Brad Jefferson, Georgia Tech 6-2, 241
Positives: The leader of the defense. He directed the traffic and made the plays the line couldn't come up with. … A decent pass rusher. While hardly a speedster, he dies a decent job of getting into the backfield when he gets a shot and sees an opening. … Always working. He never takes a play off and is always hustling to do more.
Negatives: Stiff. He doesn't move well and takes two days to make a cut. … While he's extremely strong, he can only be used against the run. He'll have to come off the field on third downs. … Doesn't always make the right play and is out of position way too often.

17. Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State 6-1, 242
Positives: Looks the part. He's a rock with a good base and good strength. He has the right build and the right raw abilities. … Always moving and never dogs it. He worked his tail off to come back from a torn ACL, and it showed with a fantastic senior year. … Will do absolutely whatever it takes. He'll wash the towels if that's what a team needs to succeed. He'll be an impossible cut because the coaches will love his play and his want-to.
Negatives: Not fluid in any way. He's a stiff defender who doesn't cut well and isn't quite as mobile as he was before his knee injury. … Misses too many tackles. Bounces off ball carriers a bit too often. … Doesn't have much range and might have a future as a rotation linebacker for the inside and a special teamer. He won't be a starter for all that long, if at all.

18. Ben Jacobs, Fresno State 6-4, 245
Positives: Excellent size. He's a tall, big body with a great frame. He looks like he belongs. … Experienced. He was not only a four-year starter, he was a leader who always produced. That was his Fresno State defense. … Tough as nails. He'll get his nose dirty to get in on any play.
Negatives: Doesn't move. He doesn't have any semblance of quickness and makes plays on inctinct and want-to. … Not strong enough. He's a tackler on the inside, but he'll get shoved around too easily. … Might be just a special teamer, but his lack of athleticism will limit his chances to become a regular defender.

19. Jonathan Cornell, Ole Miss 6-1, 235
Positives: Has just enough straight-line speed and just good enough instincts to sniff out plays. He has seen enough time to know what he's doing. … A true middle linebacker, he's experienced and he produced through the wars of the SEC. … Very smart. He seems to work his way to get into the right space at the right time. He doesn't make a slew of mistakes.
Negatives: Not all that big. He's not built to be a regular starter on the inside of an NFL defense. … Whiffs ways too much. He's not the most secure tackler around and bounces off too many ball-carriers. … Not a top athlete. He doesn't close as well as needed to make any sort of an impact.

20. Jeff Tarpinian, Iowa 6-3, 238
Positives: Has the smarts and has the instincts to get by. He can come off the bench and be ready to produce whenever needed. … Always moving. Plays like someone who's happy to be a football player and always works with high energy. … As tough as they come on the field. He's never afraid to get dirty.
Negatives: Not durable. He's a huge hitter who knocks himself around a bit too much. … Not an athlete. He moves, but he's not going to fly all over the place. … Gets beaten up by blockers and isn't good at slipping and shedding. He gets buried by anyone who locks on him.