This 2009 Inside Linebacker class makes the 2008 class look soft. Ray Maualuga may be the top
overall player in the country. He’s a violent hitter with prototypical size and athleticism. He’s a lock for the top 10 regardless of how he performs in 2008.
Laurinaitis is blessed with great size and athleticism and compares favorably to Bears MLB Brian Urlacher. He does all the little things well, and should get a look from Tampa 2 teams. He’s a lock for the top half of round 1.
Ellerbe and Beckwith are athletic, aggressive LBs who will get looks on the Weak Side in the NFL.Tampa 2 teams will give both a look due to their athleticism and excellent coverage ability. Ellerbe could definitely jump up into the 1st with a big season and good workouts while Beckwith looks like a solid 2nd rounder. Mauga is a classic 2-down thumper who is a great tackler but has suspect coverage skills. Mauga should get a look from 3-4 teams as an inside man.
Ray Maualuga – Southern Cal
James Laurinaitis – Ohio St.
Dannell Ellerbe – Georgia
Darry Beckwith – LSU
Josh Mauga – Nevada
Sleeper Senior: Jason Phillips – TCU
Junior to watch: Gerald McRath – Southern Cal
The 2009 Senior DE class is full of potential and ‘tweeners. Johnson has amazing size and burst but is thin and lanky. He’ll be in the first half of round 1 with a big season but without one, he could fall a little like former Miami DE Calais Campbell did in 2008 (probably not that far though).
Orakpo and Egboh have shown flashes of talent which is enough to propel them into Day 1 but they need to show more to rise into round 1. Orakpo has great size and ability to get at the QB but he needs to prove he’s more than just a flash in the pan. Egboh will be an interesting guy to watch. Stanford switched to a 4-3 and he blossomed. With a big season, a 3-4 team will look at him early round 2 and possibly higher to play DE. Shaughnessy must overcome an injury plagued career and prove he can be an every down DE to make it into Day 1. He’s a little light and may not have a true position in the NFL but he’ll get a look from 3-4 teams as an OLB. Jackson will definitely get looked at by 3-4 teams as a DE but he has the ability to be an interior pass rusher in a 4-3. He’s not a natural pass rusher off the edge, which is why his sack numbers are low, but he’s a very versatile and talented player.
Tyson Jackson – LSU
Michael Johnson – Georgia Tech
Brian Orakpo – Texas
Matt Shaughnessy – Wisconsin
Pannel Egboh – Stanford
Sleeper Senior: Cyril Obiozor – Texas A&M
Junior to watch: George Selvie – South Florida