Buffalo's Mack leads linebacker prospects

  • Updated: May 2, 2014 - 9:37 PM
hide

Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack

Draft Insider MASTER TESFATSION

One of the few areas the Vikings couldn’t address with a big splash in free agency is linebacker, and it’s a strange year for the position. Although there are quality players available, there will be a lot of prospects selected in the first two days who played both defensive end and linebacker in college.

With the versatility, coaches and general managers are tasked with projecting whether a player would be a better fit not only in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense but as a defensive end or linebacker. Some of those prospects include Georgia Tech outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaouchu, Brigham Young outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, Boise State defensive end/linebacker DeMarcus Lawrence and Stanford defensive end/linebacker Trent Murphy.

Outside linebacker clearly is deeper than inside, led by Buffalo’s Khalil Mack. There are some intriguing outside linebackers who could be available even in Day 3, such as Florida State’s Telvin Smith and UCLA’s Jordan Zumwalt. But nobody is on Mack’s level.

“I want to be the best,” Mack said at the NFL combine. “I don’t know who all you guys talk to, but in anything, my dad always taught me you want to be the best at anything and everything that you do. And, I strive to be the best at anything I do. Whether it was raking the leaves growing up, or whether it was playing tic-tac-toe with my brothers, whether it was kicking the ball in the dirt with a can on the ground and you had to kick the can. We did stupid things, but we wanted to be the best at it, and that’s the reason I am so competitive.”

There are a lot more questions with the inside linebackers. Top prospect C.J. Mosley of Alabama, Wisconsin’s Chris Borland and Stanford’s Shayne Skov might be the only inside linebackers selected in the first three rounds.

There probably will be four linebackers taken in the first round, including Mack, Mosley, UCLA’s Anthony Barr and Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier. It wouldn’t be surprising if Van Noy sneaks into the first round as well, though many project him as a second-rounder.

But scheme and time to develop will be important for most of the linebackers in this class.

THE FRONT-RUNNER

Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo

The best linebacker in the draft and worthy of the first overall pick. The All-America selection had 10.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, three interceptions and five forced fumbles. While the competition he typically faced wasn’t stiff, he did have nine tackles, 2.5 sacks and a 45-yard interception returned for a touchdown against Ohio State. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer probably would love Mack, but it’s unlikely he falls out of the first round.

THE CONTENDERS

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama

He’s a smart linebacker who led Alabama with 108 tackles last season. Mosley has great instincts and can stop the run, which has been Zimmer’s main focus on defense. He’ll fall to the mid-to-late first round, however, because of durability concerns. Mosley suffered elbow, hip and shoulder injuries during his time at Alabama. If healthy, he could be an impact linebacker.

Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

His stock apparently has dropped recently. Barr is far from a finished product after playing linebacker for only two seasons after switching from receiver. He’s a raw talent who’s athletic and explosive. Twenty of his 65 tackles last season were for loss. The team that drafts Barr in the mid-to-late first round will have to develop him, and he likely won’t be an immediate starter.

Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

  • related content

  • C.J. Mosley

  • Ryan Shazier

  • Anthony Barr

  • Carl Bradford

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 1 Top 3rd Inning
Washington 1
Seattle 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Baltimore 0
Texas 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Cleveland 1
Colorado 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Detroit 0
Cincinnati 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Miami 0
San Francisco 2 Bottom 3rd Inning
NY Mets 0
LA Angels 3 Bottom 2nd Inning
Tampa Bay 0
NY Yankees 0 Bottom 2nd Inning
Boston 0
Minnesota - L. Darnell 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Sale
Toronto - J. Happ 7:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 7:15 PM
St. Louis - A. Wainwright
Kansas City - J. Guthrie 8:35 PM
Oakland - S. Gray
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez 8:40 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Atlanta - M. Minor 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/7/14 6:00 PM
NY Jets
San Francisco 8/7/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New England 8/7/14 6:30 PM
Washington
Cincinnati 8/7/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
Seattle 8/7/14 8:00 PM
Denver
Dallas 8/7/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Winnipeg 27 FINAL
Hamilton 26
Toronto 3 12:30
Montreal 4
Brt Columbia 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/7/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Edmonton 8/8/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Hamilton 8/8/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/9/14 6:30 PM
Calgary
Connecticut 7:00 PM
San Antonio
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close