Who Would You Draft? Inside Linebackers

We’ve talked about potential heirs to Ray Lewis. Which would you choose?

Posted by Ryan Mink on Friday, March 25th, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Categories: 2011 NFL Draft, Ryan Mink, Who Would You Draft?

Throughout the past couple of months, we’ve been giving you updates on the top prospects available in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft.

In that discussion, we’ve talked about potential heirs to Ray Lewis at inside linebacker.
Even though it will thankfully be up to General Manager Ozzie Newsome, coaches and the scouting department, we’re interested in knowing who you want.

Below are five of the top inside linebackers available, according to mock drafts and NFLDraftScout.com. We’ll continue with other positions leading up to the draft, so stay tuned.

Who would you draft?

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Martez Wilson, Illinois
Junior; 6-foot-4, 250 pounds
2010 Stats: 111 tackles, 11 ½ tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 interception
Wilson is a gifted athlete with phenomenal speed who could go in the end of the first round. He posted the fastest time among linebackers at the combine (4.49). Wilson is a savvy pass-rusher from inside and has also shown the ability to come off the edge. He missed most of 2009 with a herniated disc.

Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina
Senior; 6-1, 241
2010 Stats: 61 tackles, 8 ½ TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT
Sturdivant has a smaller frame, but as the Ravens learned with Ray Lewis, that’s not always the best measure of an inside linebacker. He was a productive four-year starter, particularly against the run, and has versatility to also play outside. He was reportedly arrested for marijuana possession last summer.

Greg Jones, Michigan State

Senior; 6-1, 240
2010 Stats: 106 tackles, 10 TFL, 1 sack
Jones is a tackling machine, racking up more than 100 stops each of his final three seasons as a Spartan. He also never missed a game. Despite his rather small size, Jones is a standout blitzer who posted nine sacks as a junior and has good instincts. He was a well-respected defensive leader.

Kelvin Sheppard, Louisiana State
Senior; 6-2, 250
2010 Stats: 118 tackles, 16 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 INT
The undisputed leader of the Tigers, Sheppard is known for his fiery speeches. He’s got great size and agility, enough that he may be a three-down linebacker who could hold up in coverage. Sheppard’s also got good size to hold up inside. His aggressiveness can get him in trouble with play action and cutbacks.

Casey Matthews, Oregon
Senior; 6-1, 232
2010 Stats: 79 tackles, 9 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 INT
Matthews automatically gets some bonus points for his bloodlines, including being the younger brother of Green Bay Packers pass-rushing dynamo Clay Matthews. This Matthews doesn’t have the same explosion, but he does have the great instincts. He’s a competitor who has made big plays in big games.

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