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Year of the Linebackers?

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Greg C., Feb 27, 2006.

  1. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    Here's an article from ESPN about the abundance of talented linebackers in this year's draft. I still think Hawk is our guy. I'm getting worried that he could be drafted before the Packers can get him.


    Hawk, others ready to make instant impact
    By John Clayton
    ESPN.com
    Archive

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Rookie linebackers don't seem to be appreciated until the votes are tallied for defensive rookie of the year at the end of the season.

    Only eight linebackers have been first-round picks in the past five drafts. Yet four of the past five defensive rookies of the year have been linebackers. For a position that isn't supposed to be valued for impact, NFL teams seem to be getting a bargain with rookie linebackers.

    "It's understandable," Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "Obviously, we're not big defensive ends who are going to get 15 to 18 sacks a year. We're not going to be a running back who's going to rush for 1,500 yards. It's a spot where there are three or four of them on the field, I guess you can justify not taking guys too high. All I want is a chance, regardless of where I'm taken."

    A.J. Hawk was the 2005 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.Hawk doesn't have cause for worry. Neither do the rest of the linebackers in this draft class, which is being rated as the best since 2000 when LaVar Arrington, Brian Urlacher, John Abraham, Julian Peterson and Rob Morris went in the first round. Hawk is clearly a top-five or top-six selection. Chad Greenway of Iowa, Bobby Carpenter of Ohio State, DeMeco Ryans of Alabama and Ernie Sims of Florida State are drawing first-round consideration, and a team needing a solid inside linebacker may go for Abdul Hodge of Iowa in the lower part of the first round.

    "I think you've got some good players in this one," Texans general manager Charley Casserly said. "You know, A.J. Hawk obviously is good. Greenway is good. Those are the two guys that got all the headlines during the year. But the Alabama linebacker, Ryans, is pretty good, the Florida State linebacker, Sims, is pretty good, so you've got some, I think, real good linebackers in this draft."

    Based on recent history, one of those linebackers, or a linebacker picked a round or two lower, could end up being the top defensive rookie this season.

    Hawk has a chance to be drafted higher than any linebacker since 2000, when Arrington was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft by the Redskins. The Packers are thinking about him at No. 5, and the 49ers would love to take Hawk with the No. 6 pick.

    "I think players are players, and if you get a chance to get a great player, you get the great player," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. "I don't think you focus too much on the position. Linebackers can have an impact on teams; obviously you can name four or five in the league that are clearly the guys that opposing teams have to watch out for. Defensive linemen here in the draft normally get a little bit more publicity and a little bit more pizzazz because the good Lord only made so many defensive linemen, but I think if you get a chance to get a good, solid core player, you better take the solid core player."

    Hawk's head isn't swelling with the attention. Being mentioned among the best Ohio State linebackers in history -- including such greats as Chris Spielman -- is an honor. But he knows the value a rookie linebacker can bring to an NFL team, no matter where he goes in the draft.

    "It's a position where a lot of times they say they don't want to draft people too high because they think, 'How much impact can a linebacker have?'" Hawk said. "Guys like Shawne Merriman and Lofa Tatupu had huge years. I think the linebacker position, with all the defenses they're playing and with the offenses you have to face, is versatile. One week you're facing a spread offense and the next week a team is trying to pound the ball on you, you have to be able to do a little bit of everything. That's the tough thing about playing college football, and it's even magnified more in the NFL."

    Still, why don't linebackers get more respect in the draft?

    "It depends on the depth of the draft and the value of the player," Casserley said. "Some positions, and defensive line is one of them, people get forced up. With quarterbacks, people get forced up. Other positions don't get forced up -- tight end, safety and guard. They kind of have a way of going in the second round. But linebacker, I think just depends on the ability of the player. ... Linebacker seems to me to be a position that is not overvalued or undervalued on draft day; it's valued by what the player's ability is."

    This year the ratings are good.
     
  2. gopackgo4

    gopackgo4 Cheesehead

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    I value linebackers very much Those guys stop the run and cover the pass they are one of if not the most important part of a defense
     

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