The 2012 NFL Draft is quickly coming upon us. With less than ten days until Andrew Luck’s name is called by Roger Goodell, we will be offering our position-by-position rankings with final grades on most of the draftable prospects.
Today we look at the inside linebackers in the 2012 NFL Draft:
1. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Height: 6032 Weight: 242
Kuechly is one of the safer picks in the draft. He wasn’t called on to pressure the QB at Boston College so the knock that he can’t has reared it’s ugly head. Kuechly proved at the Combine that he has the athleticism to rush the passer and make plays sideline-to-sideline. Kuechly is one of the best coverage linebackers to come out in a long while.
2012 NFL Draft projection: Top 20
Final Grade: 6.7
2. Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Height: 6022 Weight: 265
Hightower missed most of the 2009 season to a torn ACL and didn’t look healthy in the least in 2010. He was back to relative full strength for 2011 and solidified himself as a first round pick. He’s a physical player that has pass rush ability from the inside. He will struggle in coverage in the NFL but should make up for it with his physical brand of play.
2012 NFL Draft projection: 1
Final Grade: 6.1
3. Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California
Height: 5110 Weight: 265
If not for his limited size, Kendricks could challenge to be the top ILB in this class, and that’s saying a lot considering who tops this class. He’s a punisher with plus instincts. Has the ability to lead a defense in the pros and far and away the most athletic ILB in this class. Kendricks may wind up a steal of this draft.
2012 NFL Draft projection: 2
Final Grade: 6.1
4. James Michael-Johnson, ILB, Nevada
Height: 6004 Weight: 241
JMJ has started 50 games for Nevada and it shows in his technique and instincts. He possesses great eyes and could be a quality starter down the road. He’s not as physical as you would like but makes up for it solid athleticism and instincts.
2012 NFL Draft projection: 3-4
Final Grade: 5.6
Best of the Rest:
5. Audie Cole, ILB, NC State Final Grade: 5.4
6. Jerry Franklin, ILB, Arkansas Final Grade: 5.2
7. Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona St. Final Grade: 5.1
8. Najee Goode, ILB, West Virginia Final Grade: 5.1
9. Shawn Loiseau, ILB, Merrimack Final Grade: 5.1
10. Marcus Dowtin, ILB, North Alabama Final Grade: 5.0
11. Chris Galippo, ILB, USC Final Grade: 5.0
12. Carmen Messina, ILB, New Mexico Final Grade: 5.0
13. Caleb McSurdy, ILB, Montana Final Grade: 5.0
14. D.J. Holt, ILB, California Final Grade: 5.0