Possible Heirs To Lewis In 2011 Draft

Could this year’s draft provide the next Ray Lewis-esque middle linebacker for Baltimore?

Posted by Mike Duffy on Thursday, February 17th, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

The Ravens have enjoyed the unquestioned leadership and unparalleled playmaking of Ray Lewis since he was their second draft pick in 1996.

And while Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe and Tavares Gooden (also Jason Phillips) provide depth at the position, ESPN’s Mel Kiper believes the Ravens need to use this year’s draft to start considering other long-term solutions behind him.
Who are some of the Lewis-like prospects in the Class of 2011?

The NFL has seen many such players enter the league in recent years, whether it’s San Francisco’s Patrick Willis, DeMeco Ryans of the Houston Texans, or the New England Patriots’ Jerod Mayo.

This year, there are a few to watch:

  • Greg Jones (6-feet, 240 pounds), Michigan State
    2010 Stats: 106 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 1 sack
    Jones is in the Lewis mold in that he’s a little shorter than most linebackers, but he is also a heat-seeking missile.  And, his leadership – Jones was a first-team All-Big 10 selection for three years in a row – is stellar.  Jones may need to add some bulk at the next level, but his sideline-to-sideline speed is impressive.

  • Quan Sturdivant (6-foot-2, 230 pounds), North Carolina
    2010 Stats: 61 tackles, 8 ½ tackles for loss, 3 sacks
    Google Sturdivant and the first thing that may show up is his arrest for marijuana drug possession last summer, but he was still regarded as a staunch team leader.  Missing five games as a senior due to a hamstring injury hurt Sturdivant’s statistics. The former Tar Heel has great speed and his run defense – despite his weight – is considered a strength.

  • Martez Wilson (6-foot-4, 250 pounds), Illinois
    2010 Stats: 112 tackles, 11 ½ tackles for loss, 4 sacks
    Wilson played in all 13 games as a freshman at outside linebacker to help the Illini to nine wins and a Rose Bowl before switching to middle linebacker as a junior.  As a senior, Wilson was an All-Big 10 selection by the media, led the team in tackles and was fourth in the conference.

  • Colin McCarthy (6-foot-1, 235 pounds), Miami
    2010 Stats: 119 tackles, 10 ½ tackles for loss, 2 sacks
    McCarthy, who was third in the ACC in tackles last year, really stood out after moving from strongside linebacker to the middle as a senior. And, he began his career playing special teams.  Most scouting reports tab McCarthy as a solid middle linebacker at the next level, with the desire and instincts to eat up ballcarriers.

  • Casey Matthews (6-foot-1, 232 pounds), Oregon
    2010 Stats: 79 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3 sacks
    Mathews has stellar bloodlines – with his father, uncle and brother all having NFL experience – but is also a top-shelf playmaker.  A longtime team leader, Matthews was a first-team All-Pac 10 selection and an All-American mention. Keep in mind when talking about Matthews – his brother, Clay, was expected to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year this season before being ousted by Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu.

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