January 25, 2006

The Breakdown: Linebackers

In "The Breakdown," veteran talent scout Randy Rodgers is analyzing film of a select group of the nation's top prospects for Rivals.com. Rodgers has more than 35 years of experience in the college recruiting arena. He was the recruiting coordinator at the University of Illinois (1988-91) and the University of Texas (1992-97) and is one of the leading authorities on high school football talent analysis in the country. In this edition, Rodgers takes a look at linebackers.

Sergio Kindle, 6-4, 225, Dallas (Texas) Woodrow Wilson Video
Seldom could a player be regarded at the best at his position in a state like Texas, regardless of position. He has all the measurables: speed size, growth potential. He has tremendous burst to the ball and is a vicious tackler when he arrives. Will have a learning curve in pass coverage when he arrives in college, but has the athletic ability to definitely play as a freshman. Remember, he didn't concentrate on a specific position in high school, so position coaching and drills will have a major impact. Being able to graduate early and go through spring training will put him squarely in the mix as a true freshman. As a college player, he probably projects as an OLB, but could play DE. Barring injury, Sergio Kindle is a Sunday player.
Brandon Graham, 6-2, 250, Detroit (Mich.) Crockett Video
WOW!! Big, Big-Time player. Great size, won't need to gain any weight, very physical ... a striker. Really has acceleration for his size as evidenced by punt blocks, pass rush and special teams coverage. He is a superior downhill player, has excellent body position when he tackles, uses his legs, can play deep in alignment and still get to the ball in a hurry. Clearly a man among boys. Hard to believe he can't play for Big Blue as true freshman. Maybe as impressive as any high school player on tape this year. He personifies what I call a "knock-back tackler."
Joshua Tatum, 6-0, 219, Oakland (Calif.) McClymonds Video
Limited somewhat by height, seems more like a straight-line runner who needs to lower his center of gravity to be more effective against shiftier runners. Despite that, he is a good open-field tackler. Effective in pass coverage, shows he can accelerate to the ball.
Marcus Sims, 6-0, 211, Tallahassee (Fla.) N. Fla. Christian Video
SPEED ... really has good, quick reactions and can really accelerate to ball. Gets off blocks really well and won't be blocked by an OL who doesn't have a pretty good angle on him. Excellent in pursuit, not only from speed standpoint but the angles he takes. He has a lot of natural instincts. Very good pad level player when he tackles. Looks like a big time SEC/ACC LB to me.
Mark Johnson, 6-4, 230, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey Video
Another big, special guy. He really has terrific feet for a man his height and build. The interception on the tape shows what kind of hands he has and how well he runs in the open field. He can bend his knees for a big man and will be really tough to block. Would be a load on the blitz.

Randy Rodgers' Linebacker Comparison:
Barring injury, Graham, Kindle, and Johnson have a chance to be really special at the college level. Could see all three playing as freshman. Johnson has the size to possibly grow into a DE and be a big time pass rusher. Sims could get on the field as a special teams player in a top program.

More Breakdowns:
Quarterbacks | Backs/Receivers | Offensive linemen | Defensive linemen | Defensive backs

For more of Randy Rodgers recruiting analysis, check out his website, randyrodgersrecruiting.com.

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