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2013 NFL Draft Early Entry Report: Linebackers
By Jonathan Hull

Whether needing guys to play inside or outside, there is plenty of options at LB in this draft and the junior class only strengthened it.

A pair of juniors who played as 3-4 OLBs in college could be taken in the top five picks. Another pair of juniors who lined up as ILBs should also find their way into the first round. While there were fewer LBs to enter the draft early than any other defensive position, some of the guys who did declare are elite talents.

That said, most of the LBs who did enter early, probably would have been better served by going back to school.

Here's my take on the early entries at LB for this year's draft: 

Georgia LB Jarvis Jones

Linebackers

Dwayne Beckford, Purdue

Right or Wrong?: Wrong.

Analysis: Beckford has quite the resume... with law enforcement officials that is. In fact, police might know more about Beckford than most NFL scouts do. Beckford was dismissed from the Purdue football team prior to this past season after being arrested for a fourth time in a 14 months. Now he expects an NFL team to trust him with his off-the-field issues? Fat chance. He'll be lucky to garner even priority free agent consideration. He should have found a small school, and proven he could stay on the straight and narrow for a change. It worked for Janoris Jenkins.

Projection: Undrafted.

 

Jelani Jenkins, Florida

Right or Wrong?: Wrong.

Analysis: Jenkins was great as a sophomore and he looked like he could be a second-round pick heading into this season. A series of injuries set in, though, and Jenkins struggled to stay on the field. He played in nine games, but didn't register a tackle in two of them. He finished with a mere 29 tackles, five TFL and two sacks. Jenkins needed to go back to Florida and prove he can have a healthy, productive season. It's not like he had a history injury concerns before this season. Another year with the Gators and Jenkins could have been back in that early second-round consideration.

Projection: Third round.

 

Jarvis Jones, Georgia

Right or Wrong?: Right.

Analysis: Jones was incredible as a sophomore and could have been a first-round pick last year after posting 13.5 sacks and 19.5 TFL. He opted to come back as a junior and was even better with 14.5 sacks and 24.5 TFL. He also forced seven fumbles as a junior, and improved in pass coverage. Jones is an elite defensive prospect, who projects as the next great 3-4 rush LB in the NFL. He could end up being the No. 1 overall pick.

Projection: Top five overall.

 

Kevin Minter, LSU

Right or Wrong?: Right.

Analysis: Of all the players who left LSU early, Minter might have made the most sense. While fellow Tigers, Sam Montgomery and Barvkevious Mingo, will likely be taken before Minter, he's a much safer pick. Minter was far from a disappointment this season, racking up 130 tackles with 15 TFL and four sacks. He's got the speed to make plays all over the field, and the size to handle blockers inside. Right now he projects as a late first-round pick, but don't be surprised if he's moving up in the middle of the first by the end of the evaluation process.

Projection: First round.

 

Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

Right or Wrong?: Right.

Analysis: Some feel Moore has the body type to add more bulk onto his frame and make the move to 3-4 DE at the next level. That is one option, but he's likely better served staying at OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Although, he does have similar athleticism to former Aggie Von Miller who has thrived as a 4-3 OLB in Denver. Either way, Moore's quickness, agility and success at A&M makes him one of the elite defensive players of this draft. He's a top five selection.

Projection: Top five overall.

 

Alec Ogletree, Georgia

Right or Wrong?: Right.

Analysis: Ogletree will put on a quite a shot at next month's NFL Combine. He is an elite athlete, especially for a guy his size (6-3, 240). He's got a background in basketball and track, and actually went to Georgia as a safety prospect. He kept growing, though, and was moved to LB, where he showed the ability to play all over the field. There do seem to be some off the field concerns with him, but his production when he's on the field will have him at no less than a second day pick.

Projection: First round.

 

Tom Wort, Oklahoma

Right or Wrong?: Right.

Analysis: Sometimes a player with a late-round grade entering the draft early is the right decision. Wort is one of those examples. He saw his role with the team decrease dramatically over the past two seasons as the Sooners employed different philosophies with their packages. Wort could often be found on the sideline when the Sooners were pitted against four or five WRs. As a result, his production obviously slipped for a second straight season. Wort has some skills as a run defender, but the fact the Sooners didn't trust him in pass protection is a bad omen for his draft stock. But with his role decreasing, and a degree already in hand, Wort isn't taking a terrible chance if he doesn't get drafted. It's unlikely he would have helped his draft stock next season, based on how this year played out for him.

Projection: Sixth round to undrafted.

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