By Lance Zierlein
March 29, 2013
|Manti Te'o||Notre Dame||1st/2nd|
|Arthur Brown||Kansas St.||1st/2nd|
|Kevin Reddick||North Carolina||3rd/4th|
|Sean Porter||Texas A&M||4th|
Manti Te'o has good instincts, is generally a pretty good tackler and has good enough speed. What he also has is a really poor performance against Alabama who fields a team of pro talent. I completely understand the concerns about Te'o and whether or not he is a product of an average schedule this year. I think he's solid and dependable and I think the body of his work should be weighted heavier than a game that took place five to six weeks after the last game he had played.
I got caught sleeping on Arthur Brown during part of this process, but I'm not sleeping now. I wasn't caught sleeping as much as I was thrown off by his game against Oregon. Like Te'o, Brown may have been a little rusty in that one, but more importantly, he was facing an offense that rarely allows LBs to have the same impact in games that they usually do. In most of his other games, he showed that he gets sideline to sideline as well as any LB in the draft and he is able to dart into crevices and make tackles that some other LBs can't. Despite his smallish frame, I think Brown can play 3-4 ILB or 4-3 OLB; however, I do think his size means he won't be a target within the first 25 picks.
Alec Ogletree was getting more shine than he deserved early in the process but as you study him closer, you realize that the athleticism is just fine, but his issues with instincts and inconsistent tackling is a problem. Combine that with his character baggage and you have a player I wouldn't take in the first round.
Kevin Minter isn't going to wow you with anything he does in all honest. He's fluid with his movements from sideline to sideline, but his closing burst is just average. He's a solid tackler but nothing spectacular. He's serviceable in coverage, but nothing more. What I do like about Minter is that he's productive in the box against physical offenses. He's NFL-ready.
To me, Sio Moore should be one of the better "value" LBs in this draft. I think you can move Moore around the field and still get consistency and I think he can play OLB in a 4-3 or ILB in a 3-4.
Khaseem "The Dream" Greene shows good awareness and is a consistent tackler near the line of scrimmage. I like the fact that he's able to stay square and keep himself in position to tackle most of the time. There doesn't seem to be much wasted motion to his game.
One of the LBs with the highest upside on this list is Zavier Gooden. Gooden is a tremendous athlete who hasn't tapped into his full potential yet. He still looks very raw out on the field and his instincts seem a little suspect, but when he gets to the ball he breaks down and tackles pretty well. If his instincts can be sharpened by experience and coaching, I think he has a chance to be a good WLB.
Kiko Alonso and Kevin Reddick are interesting comparisons. Reddick has good size and looks impressive on the hoof, but simply doesn't have a great nose for the ball. It's either that or he's just not as competitive as he needs to be. When he's allowed play downhill in a phone booth, he's pretty solid. Alonso also loves to play downhill, but there is no questioning his competitiveness out on the field. Alonso loves to mix it up and attack the line of scrimmage, but there is not as much thud behind his hits as you expect to see with his level of aggressiveness. Alonso was used as a blitzer frequently in the Oregon defense and he proved to be quite adept at it.
Sean Porter has been a pass rusher and a standard LB at Texas A&M, but his best position is as a 4-3 WLB. Porter plays with good game speed and is good at avoiding blockers and keeping his eyes on his target against the run. Porter looked fluid in LB drills at his pro day and his ability as a blitzer is unquestioned. Porter isn't very physical and could use a little bit more weight.