2010 NFL Draft - Inside Linebacker Rankings
Florida's Brandon Spikes & Bama's Rolando McClain
Florida's Brandon Spikes & Bama's Rolando McClain
Posted Apr 13, 2010

There are plenty of good inside linebacker talents, but Alabama's Rolando McClain and Florida's Brandon Spikes are the ones everyone will be focusing on. Check out the CFN ranking of the top inside linebackers along with the most overrated and underrated prospects.

2010 NFL Draft Position Rankings

Inside Linebackers

By Pete Fiutak

2010 CFN Talent Rankings
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2010 CFN Position Rankings & Analysis

- QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs
- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
- Ss | CBs

2010 NFL Combine Quick Looks & Post-Combine Rankings

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- Cs | OTs | OGs | DEs
- DTs | ILBs | OLBs
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2010 NFL Combine Results
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2010 NFL Combine
- Offensive Winners  
- Offensive Losers 
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- Defensive Losers

This Class Is … Big. Not in terms of the number of prospects, but in sheer size. Rolando McClain, Brandon Spikes, Sean Lee, and Jamar Chaney are just a few of the big, thick defenders who can be rocks on the inside.

The Best Value Pick Will Be … Pat Angerer, Iowa
Most Underrated … Kion Wilson, South Florida
Most Overrated … Phillip Dillard, Nebraska
The Deep, Deep Sleeper Is … Terrance Gaston, Northeastern State

1. Rolando McClain, Alabama 6-3, 254
A peerless leader with an unquestioned football mind, he's like a coach on the field. When Nick Saban gushes, that means something. He's a bit tall for an inside linebacker and he was overrated having gotten a great reputation by playing on a high-profile team in a ton of big games, but he should be a long-time high level pro with great athleticism and tough tackling ability. Can he handle getting blocked on a regular basis? He benefitted from having a huge, talented line in front of him and has to prove he can consistently fight through the trash. But that's nitpicking. Plug him in and let him go from Day One and enjoy for the next decade.
CFN Projection: First Round

2. Daryl Washington, TCU 6-2, 230
One of the high risers, he's a terrific athlete with a good frame, a lot of fight, and a fantastic burst. He needs to get a lot stronger after only coming up with 17 reps on the bench, and he's a beefed up safety-sized player without much room to get bigger, but the upside is tremendous. There isn't a lot of tread on the tires and he could be scratching the surface, but he might end up working more on the outside as his career goes on if he's not playing in a 3-4. He's not an NFL middle linebacker.
CFN Projection: Second Round

3. Sean Lee, Penn State 6-2, 236
It's all up to how his knee holds up. He was having a special career before suffering a torn ACL just before the 2008 season. He was good when he returned, but he wasn't quite the same all-around playmaker. A great tackler who always takes the right angles and rarely takes a wasted step, but he's not blazing fast and he's not the biggest hitter. Smart enough and just good enough to play any linebacking spot, his versatility will make him a godsend for most coaching staffs. But can his knee last? Durability will always be a concern
CFN Projection: Second Round

4. Brandon Spikes, Florida 6-3, 249
A better football player than a raw prospect, he's not sideline-to-sideline fast at an NFL level and he's not nearly polished enough for all the experience, but he's a great leader, always finds his way to the ball, and he's always going full-tilt. While he might not be an elite athlete, he always stood out on a defense full of great athletes. He's only an inside/middle linebacker because of his lack of top-end speed, and he has to hit the weights to be able to hold up and be physical enough, but he'll be a good value any time after the first round.
CFN Projection: Second Round

5. Donald Butler, Washington 6-1, 245
Now this is an NFL inside linebacker. Out of all the prospects who try to fit several types for different roles, Butler has the prototype tools. He's big, ripped, and threw around 35 reps of 225 pounds at the Combine and looked every bit the part. While he's far stronger in the weight room than he plays on the field, he moves well, is decent in pass coverage, and has a great motor. And yes, while he's an inside linebacker, he could play outside in a 4-3 and be just fine.
CFN Projection: Third Round

6. Jamar Chaney, Mississippi State 6-1, 242
A big, hard inside presence with great size and bulk to hold up just fine as a tough run stuffer, Chaney is built for the middle but can turn and move easily in pass coverage. While he wasn't always known for being a top athlete, he made eyes pop at the Combine with a blazing 4.54, a 39" vertical, and fluid quickness around the cones and the shuttle. Along with the size and the raw skills, he's a butt-buster who's always working and always trying to get better. With all his talent, though, he didn't do quite enough against the run that he probably should've and is just okay against the pass. Someone will like him on pure potential more than game tape.
CFN Projection: Third Round

7. Micah Johnson, Kentucky 6-1, 258
A productive collegian who showed great leadership along with great strength, he's a big, tough tackler who ripped off 31 reps at the Combine and showed just enough quickness to get by. The 4.99 40 was rough and he he's not the smoothest of athletes, but worst of all, on the field, he doesn't quite play up to his size. There's no questioning his leadership, and he's the type of player everyone lots to have, but he'll have to show something special in camp early on.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

8. Pat Angerer, Iowa 6-0, 235
Underappreciated, it could be argued that he was the best linebacker in America in 2009. Short and squatty, he doesn't look the part, but he ran well, came up with a nice 26 reps on the bench, and was fluid enough to not hurt his stock. With great range, a nose for being disruptive, and a big hitting style, he's a try-hard type who might have a short shelf life considering he'll always go all out. While he might be a tough guy, he can be run at and is always better when he gets to go after the ball. He won't be a star, but he could be a tremendous producer on a defense with a star linebacker or two.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

9. Darryl Sharpton, Miami 5-11, 236
Short and very compact, he gets good leverage and is a strong tackler who battles well and fights hard in a limited space. A big hitter, he packs a wallop when he gets to unload. Even though he's a mediocre athlete with limited range, he's versatile enough to play in any style and any linebacker spot, but there's a hard-ceiling on what he can do and how good he'll be. He got by on talent way too often at Miami, and that's not going to work at the next level.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

10. Mike McLaughlin, Boston College 6-0, 242
While he's extremely strong, he's also slow. Built to be in the middle with good leverage and decent side-to-side mobility, he's a leader who holds up against the run and has a good nose to sniff out plays. Always good at beating up ball carriers, he does a good job of intimidating on the inside. He's not going to be an NFL superstar, but he could be a long time pro with his work ethic and his toughness. He'll find a place on someone's defense.
CFN Projection: Fifth Round

11. Kion Wilson, South Florida 6-0, 239
Athletic, he moves around like a defensive back and was a standout on an athletic defense. A great playmaker who's as tough as they come with an A effort every time out, he's simply a good football player. However, he's slowwwww. The 4.89 at the Combine hurt, he's not slippery when blocked, and he's too limited physically to be anything other than an inside linebacker. While he might not be drafted early, he'll be tough to kick out of a training camp.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

12. Joe Pawelek, Baylor 6-2, 237
Not an athlete in any way, he's nothing but a pure football player who makes a ton of tackles and was a big-time producer at a high level. He has good size and decent straight-line speed, but he's not laterally quick and makes plays on instinct and angles as much as talent. Forget about pass coverage or pass rushing potential, and there's a hard ceiling on what he can do at the next level, but he can be plugged into any lineup and he'll fill the stat sheet.
CFN Projection: Sixth Round

13. Phillip Dillard, Nebraska 6-0, 245
A great hitter who packs a wallop, he has good size and excellent straight-line speed running a 4.64 at the Combine. With a great motor and good character, he's the type of player who'll run through a wall to make plays, but he's not always in the right position and he misses too many plays by being overly aggressive. It took a while before the light went on, but he was great in his one year as a high-end playmaker. He could play inside or out, but after a little bit of time he should shine as an inside linebacker … again, after a little bit of time.
CFN Projection: Fourth Round

14. Boris Lee, Troy 6-0, 238
Extremely productive at an all-Sun Belt level, he's a fly all over the place, do the dirty work needed playmaker with great quickness to the ball and always attacks, attacks, and attacks some more. While he plays under control, he's extremely aggressive and makes up for his shortcomings, like his lack of footspeed and his height, by playing smart. He's a tweener who's too small to play inside and too slow to be a regular on the outside, but he'll be someone's star on special teams and should make a roster on want-to.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

15. Josh Hull, Penn State 6-3, 237
Really, really, slow, the 4.91 40 at the Combine was a disaster for a player of his size. However, he proved to be far quicker through the short drills and he moved surprisingly well. On the field, it took a little while but he eventually grew into a rock-solid player who didn't miss many tackles and swallowed up everything that came his way. However, he was a walk-on for a reason; he doesn't have the basic skills. He'll bust his tail to make a lineup, but he'll likely be a half-step too slow for most NFL defenses.
CFN Projection: Free Agent

16. Reggie Carter, UCLA
17. Ryan Stamper, Florida
18. Reed Williams, West Virginia
19. Jacob Cutera, LSU
20. Travis Goethel, Arizona State
21. Vincent Rey, Duke
22. Ryan Reynolds, Oklahoma
23. Ryan D'Imperio, Rutgers
24. Lee Campbell, Minnesota
25. Nathan Triplett, Minnesota