Three different species of top linebacker prospects
The freak pass-rusher
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
The skinny: Despite concerns about his work ethic after a three-sack junior season, Clowney is considered by many to be the draft’s top prospect. Some think he is best suited to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme but that he also would terrorize quarterbacks as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
NFL comparable: Mario Williams
Quotable: “The most talented defensive lineman I’ve ever evaluated” — ESPN’s Todd McShay
The jack of all trades
Khalil Mack, Buffalo
The skinny: Mack created big-time draft buzz at Buffalo, which isn’t exactly a BCS powerhouse. Mack is one of the most complete prospects in this draft. NFL teams will covet his pass-rushing skills most, but he also was more than adept at stuffing running backs and dropping into coverage.
NFL comparable: Von Miller
Quotable: “Mack is a different breed” — Dane Brugler of CBS Sports
The three-down MLB
C.J. Mosley, Alabama
The skinny: Mosley was one of the standouts on recent Alabama defenses that were filled with current and future NFL players. Because his coverage skills project well to the NFL level, he won’t have to come off the field. But don’t expect much of a pass rush from him; he had no sacks in 2013.
NFL comparable: NaVorro Bowman
Quotable: “If this were 1995, he would be a top-10 pick” — ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.