2007 Rookie Profiles: Inside Linebackers
Full Name: Jon Abbate School: Wake Forest
Ht: 5-9.5 Wt: 231 40: 5.08 Year: 4Jr
Bio: Three-year starter awarded varying degrees of All-Conference honors since his freshman campaign. Led the team in tackles last season despite struggling with an ankle injury all year. Numbers were 120/7/3, with one interception and three pass break-ups. Sophomore totals included 101 tackles.
Pos: High-energy defender who constantly makes positive plays. Physical, always works to get involved and plays with a great degree of intelligence. Displays terrific instincts and stands out in run defense. Remains disciplined, does not bite on ball fakes and fills the correct gaps. Fluid changing direction and constantly flies around the ball. Tough and plays through pain.
Neg: Slow through the traffic and is easily blocked at the point. Displays marginal range to the sidelines and does not get great depth on drops.
Analysis: A defender with a nonstop motor, Abbate possesses poor size/speed
numbers, but favorably compares to All-Pro Zach Thomas based on his
combination of intelligence and effort.
Full Name: Dwayne Andrews School: Fresno State
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 246 40: 4.96 Year: 5Sr
Bio: Three-year starter awarded varying degrees of All-Conference honors since his sophomore campaign. Posted 88/6.5 as a senior after 71/7.5 the prior year.
Hard-working inside linebacker with marginal playing speed. Disciplined, displays
good awareness and does a terrific job quarterbacking the defense. Scrappy,
shows a fluid change of direction and works to make positive plays.
Slow to the sidelines and cannot cut off the corners. Easily controlled at the point
of attack or slow to regain his balance off the initial block.
A tough linebacker who stays with assignments, Andrews is a marginal athlete
whose best possibility would be backing up in a 34 defense.
Full Name: Desmond Bishop School: California
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 240 40: 4.81 Year: 4Sr
Junior college transfer who started the past two seasons, winning All-Conference
honors after each campaign. Led the team in tackles as a senior, posting career
numbers of 126/15/3, while also intercepting three passes and breaking up two
more. Recorded 89 tackles as a junior.
Intense, competitive, run-defending linebacker who works best in the box.
Hard-hitting, lays his shoulders into ball carriers and likes to intimidate
opponents. Patient, stays with assignments and takes excellent angles to the
action. Quick filling gaps in run defense, forceful at the point and wraps up
tackling. Flies around the football, constantly making positive plays.
Does not always play under control or within himself. Marginal lateral range, slow
to the flanks and struggles in coverage.
A two-down defender with a nose for the football, Bishop is an underrated
linebacker who will be downgraded because of his limitations in coverage. Has the
intelligence and attitude to produce as a rookie on special teams, and could
eventually develop as a starter on the inside of a 34 defense.
Full Name: Troy Collavo School: UTEP
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 230 40: 4.73 Year: 4Sr
Two-year starter awarded All-Conference honors after his junior and senior
campaigns. Led the team in tackles last season posting 125/9.5/2. Junior totals 112 tackles.
Tough, run-defending linebacker with an excellent head for the ball. Quickly
diagnoses the action, fast up the field and works to get involved. Remains
disciplined with assignments and does not bite on play-action passes. Fires up the field in run defense.
Struggles in coverage displaying marginal sideline-to-sideline range. Lacks top
A productive college linebacker whose game has taken off the past two seasons,
Collavo is backup material at the next level.
Full Name: Quinton School: Mississippi State
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 236 40: 4.84 Year: 4Sr
Two-year starter at inside linebacker after seeing action with the first team on the
outside as a sophomore. Led the squad in tackles the past two seasons, totaling
102/9/1 as a senior after 78/1.5/1 the prior year.
Athletic linebacker with solid size/speed numbers. Displays good instincts,
explodes up the field and chases hard to get involved. Intense, stays with
assignments and redirects to the action.
Lacks the quick change of direction and range to the sidelines. A bit straight
line-ish and does not show lateral speed.
A developing prospect who lays it on the line, Culberson offers upside yet needs
to improve his play in coverage.
Full Name: Buster Davis School: Florida State
Ht: 5-9.5 Wt: 240 40: 4.79 Year: 5Sr
Bio: Three-year starter awarded All-American honors last season after leading Florida State in tackles. Numbers were 103/8/5 with one interception two pass break-ups. Junior totals included 81 tackles.
Pos: Hard-charging defender who constantly makes positive plays. Displays good instincts and is relentless in pursuit of the action. Fast in every direction, explosive up the field filling gaps and gets depth on pass drops.
Neg: Cannot shed blocks once engaged at the point, and struggles getting through the trash. Lack of height causes mismatches in coverage when he takes on tight ends.
Analysis: A fiery defender with a special-teams mentality, Davis is a perfect fit for a system that allows him to freely flow to the action.
Full Name: George Hall School: Purdue
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 243 40: 4.84 Year: 5Sr
Three-year starter who posted 78/4.5/1 as a senior after 77 tackles the prior year.
Undersized yet hard-working linebacker who must play in a system that protects
him. Fast to the sidelines, makes plays out to the flanks and is very active in run
defense. Quickly fills gaps up field, immediately locates the ball and remains
disciplined with assignments. Gets depth on drops and displays solid range.
Gets caught up in the traffic or is easily blocked from the action. Has a lot of
Playing faster than his 40 time, Hall is a middle-line defender who nicely flows to
the action. Potentially a backup on the inside of a 34 alignment, or could be used
in a one-gap defensive system.
Full Name: David Harris School: Michigan
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 243 40: 4.64 Year: 5Sr
Two-year starter awarded All-Conference honors as a senior after leading the
Wolverines in tackles, totaling 96/15/3. Junior totals were 88/7/1.
Tough, instinctive run-defending linebacker. Forceful up the field, takes good
angles to the action and flies around the ball. Consistently fills the correct gaps
in run defense, stays with assignments and displays good instincts. Fast enough
to cut off the corner, hard-hitting and aggressively lays his shoulders into ball
carriers. Gets depth on pass drops and displays ability in zone.
Struggles in man coverage. Gets caught up in the trash moving laterally. Has
injury concerns from the past.
Taking his game to another level last season, Harris was the hard-working leader
of one of the nation’s top defenses. Has starting potential at the next level, most
likely on the inside of a 34 defense.
Full Name: Jarvis Jackson School: Georgia
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 222 40: 4.63 Year: 4Sr
Three-year starter who also saw action with the first team as a sophomore.
Senior totals were 71/2.5/1 with one interception. Junior numbers included 80
tackles. Has been used in the middle and on the weak side.
Fast, flowing linebacker with potential in a one-gap system. Displays speed to the flanks, collapses from the outside defending the run and nicely redirects to ball carriers. Gets depth on drops and quickly breaks to the ball in coverage. Squares into ball handlers and wraps up tackling.
Neg: Slow to react, not overly instinctive and over-pursues the action. Lacks strength
at the point of attack.
A potential backup at weak-side linebacker, Jackson’s speed and explosion gives
him added value on special teams.
Full Name: Cameron Jensen School: BYU
Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 239 40: 4.85 Year: 5Sr
Three-year starter awarded varying degrees of All-Conference and All-Academic
honors at BYU. Led the team in tackles as a senior, posting 107/9.5/4, also
intercepting three passes. Totaled 84 tackles as a junior after 103 as a sophomore.
Hard-working, instinctive two-down defender who stands out in run defense.
Displays an excellent head for the game, quickly diagnoses the action and takes
good angles to the play. Tenacious, works hard and is constantly around the ball.
Fires up the field defending the run and on the blitz. Patient and stays with
assignments. Displays good awareness in zone coverage.
Undersized and slow shedding blocks. Marginal ball skills and overall ability in
coverage. Lacks a quick change of direction and overall range. Over-aged
prospect who graduated from high school in 1999.
A hard-nosed defender who lays it on the line, age and marginal athleticism limits
Full Name: Zach Latimer School: Oklahoma
Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 237 40: 4.85 Year: 5Sr
Two-year starter who posted 84/10.5/2 as a senior, while also intercepting three
passes. Junior totals were 84/6/4.
Dependable run-defending linebacker who is quick to recognize the action.
Disciplined, plays heads-up football and explodes up the field. Takes good angles
to the action and is relatively efficient.
Not stout at the point, gathers into blocks and is slow to shed. Marginal playing
speed. Average skills in coverage.
Showing skill the past two seasons, Latimer must take his game to the next level in order to have a spot on an NFL roster.
Full Name: Oscar Lua School: USC
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 240 40: 4.85 Year: 5Sr
Registered 36 tackles as a senior primarily coming off the bench. Full-time
starter as a junior when he posted a career-high 66 tackles.
Hard-working two-down defender who shows a good head for the ball. Forceful up
the field, explosive filling gaps and wraps up tackling. Stays with assignments,
diagnoses the action and plays with reckless abandon. Aggressively puts his
shoulders into ball carriers and flies around the field.
Struggles in coverage and lacks top sideline-to-sideline range. Possesses a
short burst of speed that he cannot sustain.
A passionate football player who is a leader on the field, Lua lacks the top
athleticism to be anything more than a backup middle linebacker. Has a
special-teams mentality, which is added value.
Full Name: Jerry Mackey School: Syracuse
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 231 40: 4.86 Year: 5Sr
Three-year starter who posted 64/3/1 as a senior. Suffered a major shoulder
injury late in his junior campaign and registered just 29 tackles. Posted a
career-high 106 tackles as a sophomore.
Hard-working, determined prospect with an excellent head for the game.
Instinctive, smooth changing direction and wraps up tackling. Always works to
get involved and plays assignment football.
Possesses average playing speed, marginal range to the sidelines and wastes a
lot of motion. Slow shedding blocks at the point.
A solid football player, Mackey is a limited athlete who’s been set back by
injuries. Would fit in as a backup/special-teams player if he’s healthy.
Full Name: Beau Manutai School: Arizona State
Ht: 6-0.5 Wt: 254 40: 4.83 Year: 4Sr
Junior college transfer who became a full-time starter last season, posting career
numbers of 68/6.5/2.
Hard-working run-defending linebacker with a good head for the game.
Instinctive, stays with assignments and works to get involved. Quick filling gaps
in run defense, aggressively lays his shoulders into ball carriers and wraps up tackling.
Does not play with balance, lacks a quick change of direction and not effective in
pursuit. Taken off the field on passing downs. Will be a 26-year-old rookie.
A tough thumper on the inside, Manutai could back up in a 34 alignment.
Full Name: Marvin Mitchell School: Tennessee
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 250 40: 4.94 Year: 5Sr
Led the team in tackles last season after becoming a full-time starter, producing
career-best numbers of 104/10.5/1. Junior numbers included 22 tackles, when
he started two games.
Good-sized run defender who made big strides as a senior. Explosive up the field,
displays a good head for the ball and makes a lot of plays in the box. Fluid
changing direction, shows the ability to get to the sidelines and covers a good
amount of area. Remains disciplined with assignments.
Struggles pedaling in reverse, shows minimal skills in coverage and lacks
instincts. Not efficient and needlessly takes off up the field at times.
A stout linebacker who stacks well against the run, Mitchell is a two-down
defender who can be used on the inside or in the middle. Needs to continue to
improve, yet offers upside as a developmental prospect.
Full Name: Blair Phillips School: Oregon
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 243 40: 4.87 Year: 5Sr
Two-year starter who began his career in junior college. All-Conference selection
last year after leading Oregon in tackles, posting 105/9/2. Junior numbers were 45/9/2.
Improving run-defending linebacker with solid instincts. Disciplined, plays
heads-up football and stays with assignments. Always working to get involved in
the action. Effectively uses his hands to protect himself, scrapes well in the box
and has a straight-line burst of speed.
Marginal skills in coverage and limited speed to the sidelines. Gets caught up in
the trash moving laterally. Slow disengaging from blocks once wired at the point.
Productive tackler with marginal size/speed numbers, Phillips is a good fit on the
inside of a 34 defense or in a system that allows him to freely flow to the action.
Full Name: Brandon Siler School: Florida
Ht: 6-1.5 Wt: 241 40: 4.70 Year: 3Jr
Two-year starter awarded varying degrees of All-Conference honors since his
freshman season. Junior numbers were 77/10/3 after 64/10/5 as a sophomore.
Forceful linebacker who is best making plays up the field or in the box. Explosive,
fast moving laterally and strings plays out to the flanks. Takes on then defeats
blocks, plays with a good amount of strength and has a physical nature to his
game. Aggressively puts his shoulders into ball carriers, bringing them down at
the point of attack. Remains disciplined with assignments, does not bite on ball
fakes and easily redirects to the action. Stacks well against the run and has a burst of closing speed.
Struggles in coverage, is not quick locating the ball and trails opponents
downfield. Improved his instincts, yet still shows hesitation to his game on occasion.
An intimidating defender, Siler makes his presence felt on the field. Offers
starting potential in a variety of defensive systems and will be a productive NFL player soon after he enters the league.
Full Name: Kelvin Smith School: Syracuse
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 240 40: 4.86 Year: 5Sr
Four-year starter at both inside and outside linebacker. All-Conference selection
as a senior after totaling 115/4.5/2.5. Junior totals were 89/7/1.
Smart, run-defending linebacker who makes most his plays up the field. Explosive
filling gaps, flies around the ball and fights to make plays in run defense. Patient,
diagnoses the action and quickly locates the ball. Wraps up at the point and is a hard-hitter.
Marginal playing speed and skills in coverage. Struggles moving in reverse.
A productive linebacker with marginal size/speed numbers, Smith is best suited
for the inside of a 34 defense.
Full Name: Brock Stratton School: Texas Tech
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 225 40: 4.78 Year: 3Jr
Three-year starter awarded varying degrees of All-Academic and All-Conference
honors since his freshman campaign. Junior totals included 88 tackles and two
pass interceptions. Did not play in ‘05. Registered 62 tackles as a sophomore.
Will be 26 years old this September.
Undersized linebacker best in the box. Physical, patient and stays with the
action. Plays with a good degree of intelligence, makes the defensive calls and
quickly diagnoses the action.
Does not show range to the sidelines. Taken off the field on passing downs.
Easily removed from the action by blocks.
Hustling around the field and getting the most of his abilities, Stratton is an
over-aged prospect with marginal size/speed numbers.
Full Name: Pago Togafau School: Idaho State
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 251 40: 4.90 Year: 5Sr
Three-year starter whose senior totals included 116/8.5/3 when he was an
All-Conference selection. Posted a career-high 122 tackles as a sophomore.
Tough, run-stuffing two-down defender best on the inside. Forceful up the field,
quickly fills gaps or effectively scrapes in the box. Slides off blocks laterally and
displays an excellent head for the ball in run defense.
Lacks balance and plays out of control. Tends to make his first move up the field
and gets caught out of position. Marginal skill and productivity in coverage.
A hard-working defender, Togafau could make it as a backup linebacker/special
teams player in a 34 defense.
Full Name: Justin Warren School: Texas A&M
Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 245 40: 4.96 Year: 4Sr
Moved into the starting lineup as a true freshman. Senior totals were 93/3.5/1,
after leading the Big 12 in tackles as a junior with 95.
Hard-working, two-down defender who plays a physical game. Forceful in run
defense, remains disciplined with assignments and always works to get involved.
Picks up assignments in coverage and has a burst of speed to the action.
Struggles pedaling in reverse, lacks sideline-to-sideline range and is more of a
A physical defender effective against the run, Warren’s best shot is as a backup
inside linebacker in a 34 alignment.
Full Name: Anthony Waters School: Clemson
Ht: 6-2.5 Wt: 245 40: 4.65 Year: 5Sr
Three-year starter who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the second
game of ‘06. Collected a team-high 109 tackles as junior when he received
Athletic defender who has shown the ability to make plays sideline-to-sideline.
Physical, quickly changes direction and covers a great amount of area. Fast
laterally, possesses a burst of speed and flashes on the scene. Strong, defeats
blocks and makes tackles in the open field. Effectively picks up coverage
assignments and works hard until the whistle blows.
Does not always play under control, and is inefficient.
A very productive defender who could be used at several linebacker spots, Waters
will now be red-flagged because of the knee injury suffered in September. Has the
size and speed as well as intelligence to start in the NFL.
Full Name: Patrick Willis School: Mississippi
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 242 40: 4.56 Year: 4Sr
Two-year starter awarded a variety of All-Conference and All-American honors
since his junior campaign. Senior totals were 137/11.5/3 after 128/9.5/3 as a
junior. Sophomore numbers were 70/11/5 when he was a reserve.
Fierce, run-defending linebacker who is best in the box. Fires up the field, plays
with great suddenness and flashes on the scene. Plays heads-up football and
takes good angles to the play. Possesses a thick, strong build, defeats blocks
and easily brings ball carriers down on initial contact. Remains disciplined with assignments.
Lacks top lateral range, struggles in coverage and does not possess a quick
break to the throw.
An athletic linebacker best defending the run, Willis is a competitive prospect who possesses the skills to quickly start at the next level.
Full Name: Mark Zalewski School: Wisconsin
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 234 40: 4.63 Year: 5Sr
Three-year starter who led the team in tackles last season with 90/5/2, also
intercepting two passes and breaking up four more. Junior numbers were 83/12.5/5.
Aggressive run-defending linebacker with top instincts. Diagnoses the action,
plays assignment football and works hard. Explosive up the field filling gaps,
wraps up tackling and has a physical nature to his game. Stays with cover
assignments, displaying ability in zone.
Lacks lateral range and speed to the flanks. Does not play to his 40 time. Slowed
by blocks or easily taken from the action.
Best in the box, Zalewski must be used in a system which allows him to freely flow
to the action. His head for the ball and appetite for contact will get him looks as
an inside linebacker and special-teams ace.