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Draft Time: Evaluating the Inside Linebackers

Nick Shepherd takes a look at Inside Linebacker prospects that are projected to be selected the first couple rounds, in hopes of finding a suitable replacement for Takeo Spikes in the San Diego Chargers' defense.


Alec Ogletree

#9 / Linebacker / Georgia Bulldogs




Projected: Top 15

It doesn't get much better than what Jerome put together last week. The only thing I'll add is to point out some of the value of Ogletree is positional flexibility. Alec is equally comfortable coming off the edge or from the inside, and mixed with Melvin Ingram / Jarret Johnson, John Pagano could be left with a lot of options to confuse opposing offenses with.

Arthur Brown

#4 / Linebacker / Kansas St. Wildcats




Projected: Mid-Late 1st Rd

Small and fast, yet still tries to play downhill. Brown is often attacking the line-of-scrimmage, but lack of bulk makes it tough once OL gets their hands on him. Tremendous instincts means he's almost always around the ball, often reading his keys before the OL can get to their second step.

Arthur is an impressive player for sure, but his instincts and downhill style means he can get enveloped on inside runs, and he lacks the power or hip flex to turn the corner. A bit of a tweener, better suited for a Tampa 2 defense where his speed could allow him to go sideline-to-sideline. Here's a full game against Texas:

Arthur Brown vs Texas 2012 (via JmpasqDraftjedi)

Sio Moore

#3 / Linebacker / Connecticut Huskies




Projected: Early 2nd Rd

A tremendous athlete with good size and speed, Moore brings some of the same strengths to the table as the much higher ranked Alec Ogletree. Strong enough to bull-rush against opposing tackles and quick enough to beat them around the edge. Dominates with his athleticism and lacks true pass "moves," but can clearly be taught. A raw player is a coach's dream, and Sio is a raw and talented athlete.

Comfortable in space, on the edge and inside, he projects early on as a MLB that can take some blitzes around the edge...but with development could be a Shaun Phillips clone: a jack of all trades, master of none, Swiss Army knife of defensive usefulness. Here's a full game of Sio's against NC State:

Sio Moore vs NC State (2012) (via Aaron Aloysius)

Kiko Alonso

#47 / Linebacker / Oregon Ducks




Projected: 2nd Rd

My girlfriend went to Oregon, so he's getting a higher grade to A) help out my love life and B) continue her conversion into a Charger fan (I was REALLY hoping for Chip Kelly...). However, he gets downgraded for the worst music I've ever heard (AUTZEN STADIUM! /CUES AUTOTUNE) being his #1 hit on YouTube:

Ultimate Kiko Alonso Highlights | HD (via TheFootballman175)

Alonso is a nice player. He's fastish. He's biggish. He's strongish. Has good instincts, etc. Honestly, he has much of the same game as Donald Butler. Love his instinctive use of leverage, and how he uses this to attack the correct shoulder to beat blockers while going downhill. However, he's not sudden and lacks change of direction to attack from the edge.

Presents an interesting case - as it would be nice to have two athletic sideline-to-sideline linebackers at ILB. However, without a true NT these guys may get engulfed in the run game, negating their ability to attack downhill. For this reason, likely not a fit for the Bolts.

Jonathan Bostic

#1 / Linebacker / Florida Gators




Projected: 3rd Rd

Big, thick and slow. Not remotely the same athlete as any of the previous ILBs examined, Bostic's game is about running in straight lines and knocking you the eff out when he eventually gets there. As a result, he tends to overrun plays and, more disturbingly, attacks blockers with his shoulders rather than his hands. This can fly in college, but until he fixes this he'll be enveloped by skilled guards at the next level.

His willingness to cause a pileup could make him a fit as the "clogger" linebacker who allows Donald Butler to fly all around the field making plays, but first he'll have to learn to stop taking on blocks with his shoulders. Check out the highlight film:

Ultimate Jon Bostic Highlights | HD (via TheFootballman175)

A.J. Klein

#47 / Linebacker / Iowa St. Cyclones




Projected: 3rd Rd

Just super instincts allow AJ to play above his athletic levels. He's not that fast and he's just not a quick twitch guy. That said, his instincts in coverage are simply superb. He has the ability to read quarterbacks and creates havoc in coverage in way he simply has no right to do athletically. Is always around the ball and plays above his limits.

I like him as a slightly more athletic Bront Bird, but he's not a fit for the "clogging" position we need, nor is he athletic enough to be a hybrid guy like Alec, Sio and (to a lesser extent) Alonso. That said, if we don't go ILB before the 3rd round, Klein is an intriguing prospect.

Iowa State - LB - AJ Klein (via Big12Conference)