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Tue, Feb 12, 2013

Reese’s Senior Bowl Inside or “Box” Linebackers

With the game rules set up for the North and South teams to play a 4-3 defense, for these position reviews, we are making the distinction between the “Inside” or “Box” linebackers and the “Outside” or “On-the-Line” linebackers in order to sort them more specifically. Here is a look at the traditional Mike or Will candidates, those tacklers who will line up off the line of scrimmage.

1. #44 Chris Borland/Wisconsin         IB        5113/245      28 7-8” Arm/9 3-4” Hand

Chris arrived in Mobile with the purpose of proving that height does not matter at the Mike linebacker position and he accomplished that goal with his performance during the week. From a physical standpoint, his lack of arm length might be more concerning, but still this is a prospect that can take on blocks, key/diagnose plays and then get to the football. Equally adept vs. the run or pass, he understands how he fits in the scheme and plays with excellent vision and instincts overall. If he is surrounded by enough quality talent, expect to see him be a productive pro almost right away.

1-on-1 PASS COVERAGE:             Wins: 2           Losses: 1
1-on-1 BLITZ:                                     Wins: 4           Losses: 4


NFL CAREER FORECAST:  Eventual Starter (within two seasons)SENIOR BOWL SCOOP: Chris was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and ended his career with 420 total tackles, 50 tackles-for-loss and 15 forced fumbles, which is the 2nd highest mark in FBS history.

2. #45 Christian Kirksey/Iowa          WB      6016/234      32 3-8” Arm/8 5-8” Hand

Christian is an ideal Will linebacker than can walk out into coverage and play in space. During the practices, he displayed the quick-twitch athleticism that is required of the modern-day backer who is displaced outside the box by offensive formations. He will struggle some against direct runs, but has an explosiveness about him when getting to the football. He should have no problem making a roster and contributing as a rookie on special teams, while continuing to develop physically as a linebacker. Christian is an instinctive player that has been productive in high school, college and at the Reese's Senior Bowl.

1-on-1 PASS COVERAGE:             Wins: 0           Losses: 2

1-on-1 BLITZ:                                     Wins: 4           Losses: 4

SENIOR BOWL SCOOP: Christian was an honorable mention All-Big Ten choice in 2013 and wrapped up his career with 297 total tackles, 9.5 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 7 fumble recoveries and 4 interceptions.

NFL CAREER FORCAST:  Potential Starter/Contributing Backup

3. #50 Lamin Barrow/LSU               IB/WB            6012/229     33” Arm/9 7-8” Hand

Lamin will need to add some bulk in order to confront direct runs, but he did an impressive job of reading his keys and finding the football during Reese's Senior Bowl week. Athletically, he demonstrated more coverage ability than expected and did some nice work in the 1-on-1’s. He is another candidate to play special teams as a rookie and serve as a two-position backup for an NFL club.

1-on-1 PASS COVERAGE:            Wins: 3           Losses: 1

1-on-1 BLITZ:                                    Wins: 2           Losses: 3

SENIOR BOWL SCOOP: Lamin started for two years at LSU and led the Tigers in tackles during the 2013 season with 91 total stops, earning him recognition as a 2nd team All-SEC selection.

NFL CAREER FORECAST: Contributing Backup

4. #37 Jordan Tripp/Montana        IB/WB  6026/237    30 7-8” Arm/9 5-8” Hand

Jordan came to Mobile as one of the most heralded “sleepers” in the country based on the scouts’ comments during the regular season. A combination Mike/Will, he has a proportioned build with the frame to add even more weight. His best position may end up being Will, because he is athletic and can chase from the backside, however, he is capable of making the calls as he did for the Jaguars’ staff all week. Jordan has the skill set to develop and will likely become an NFL starter in due time.

1-on-1 PASS COVERAGE:              Wins: 3           Losses: 2

1-on-1 BLITZ:                                      Wins: 2           Losses: 3

SENIOR BOWL SCOOP: This FCS first team All-American is a 3rd generation Grizzlies’ football player. He played in 52 career games with 38 starts and accumulated 336 total tackles.

NFL CAREER FORECAST: Potential Starter/Contributing Backup

Best of the Rest:

#46 Jonathan Brown/Illinois           WB      6004/224      32 1-2” Arm/9 1-4” Hand

Jonathan has the body type for the Will position and the speed to chase the football in clear air. Shows up around the football and should be able to contribute on 3rd and 4th downs (Sub situations and special teams) as a rookie.

#56 Jordan Zumwalt/UCLA           IB/WB   6040/231    31 1-8” Arm/8 1-2” Hand

Jordan is a tall, lean inside backer that will remind some of Matt Wilhelm from Ohio State (and the San Diego Chargers) from the early 2000’s. He has toughness, quality instincts and some position versatility.

#22 Telvin Smith/Florida State       WB      6027/218      32 3-4” Arm/10 1-2” Hand

Some NFL scouts are talking about Telvin as a strong safety, but the belief here is that he is an underweight Will backer. He can race from the backside vs. the run, has the athleticism to play on passing downs and the speed to cover kicks, so he should find a complimentary role as a pro.