Ravens Draft: Linebacker

LINEBACKERS 

The Ravens might be inclined to select a linebacker in the draft. Breaking down the Ravens needs, they will be in the running for a center, receiver/returner, outside backer and an inside linebacker–an heir to Ray Lewis would be a good for the future. It also wouldn’t hurt to have depth at the linebacker position with the uncertainty of Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe and OLB Jarret Johnson, all free agents. Sergio Kindle has some question marks, this will be a huge training camp for him.  Add a little speculation in the equation; Bart Scott is seeking a trade. Would Scott be a good fit back in Bmore?

Let’s take a look at some of the linebackers associated in some mock drafts going to the Ravens:

Luke Kuechly, Boston College, one of the top linebacker in the draft. Should be an early first round pick. The Ravens probably won’t have an opportunity to select this top rated linebacker.

Dont’a Hightower, Alabama (6-2, 265)

Hightower has moved up on the draft boards and he performed well at the combine. But, watch his tape; can play the inside spot and has good instinct. Consistent tackler, plays the run well. He was used as an edge rusher in nickel situations in college. “A torn ACL knocked him out for most of his sophomore season and pundits have questioned whether he got back to full strength.” He looked good his final year and is performing well at the Combine.

Stock: Up

Value: A first rounder. The question becomes can he make it down to the bottom half of the first round. There’s a few teams who might want to grab him. Hightower has Ravens pick written all over it; a player who might take a little bit of hit because of a previous injury, a quality linebacker and an Alabama player.

Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State (6-3, 250)

Burflict was a hot commodity before the draft, but he’s come under some scrutiny for not being a complete linebacker and maturity issues. As described, “He’s got some good tape as a sophomore, but struggled as a junior.” At the Combine he ran a 5.0 which hurts his stock.

Stock: down

Value: It wouldn’t be a suprise is Burfict drops down to the late second round. The upside is Burfict is a competitor and hard hitter, but might take some time to develop.

Zack Brown, North Carolina (6-2, 240)

Brown is a potential first rounder. He recorded 177 tackles and had a career 19 tackles for loss. Can work inside or outside. Superior speed, ran the 40 at the combine 4.4’s and speed sells in the draft.  Described, “Brown has been dominant, making impact plays in every facet of defense. He has excellent instincts, and combined with his tremendous foot quickness,…consistently reads and reacts to plays with urgency. He has elite speed in pursuit …should translate in the NFL is his initial quickness as a pass rusher.  Also, …Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md.

Stock: Rising

Value: A candidate for the first round, but would be a surprise to see him drop to a solid second rounder. I see his weight (244) as an issue, he needs to bulk up for the next level.

Audie Cole, NC State (6-4, 246)

Cole might be a projected third round, he is clearly one of the better linebackers in the draft. He’s athletic and versatile being able to play the outside linebacker position as well.

Stock: Up

Value: If the Ravens can nab Cole in the third round, that’s great value.

 

Other Prospects on the Rise:

James Michael Johnson, Nevada (6-1, 241)

Johnson turned in a complete workout today and was effective on all fronts. He started with 40 times in the mid 4.6-second range. His marks of 37 inches in the vertical jump and 10-feet, 4-inches in the broad jump were also impressive. During drills Johnson looked every bit as athletic as his testing numbers indicate and moved swiftly across the field. He appears to be a complete linebacker who can defend the run or pass in the NFL.”–SI.com

Mychal Kendricks, Cal (5-11, 239)

“Now at 5-foot-11, 239-pounds there are some questions about his size. However, he’s a violent kid with a natural burst, and he showed an explosive element to his game during the workout and overall looks like a guy who could find a role as a starting ‘backer either inside in a 34 front or at the mike/will spots in a 43.”–Yahoo Sports

 

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