The Perfect Draft: ILB Prospects



How it works:


First I'm going to pick the six positions I think we might look at: QB, RB, WR, TE, ILB and of course O-Line (pretty much everything but LT is fair game in my opinion). This is in no particular order but I think we can all agree that these positions are pretty much the MAJOR upgrades to take our squad to the next level. 

What I'm going to do is list all the players at a given position that were taken in the Draft Site Mock. Then I'm going to arrange my TOP 10 Value players. IMPORTANT: I'm not going to list the 10 best players available, I'm going to list the 10 best "values" in relation to where to they were taken in the mock draft. Get it? This way we can see where the good values are, and hopefully get a better understanding on where the dolphins might look to find the NEXT gem in the draft (or atleast we can hope). I'm going to do this to every key position, plus provide any solid Free Agents that may be available and my prediction on what we should do regarding each position. Finally, when we're all said and done, we should be in a position to take all the best valued players and put together THE PERFECT DRAFT.


So stick around! I GUARANTEE you will learn something if you do!


The Perfect Draft Outline-

(click to links for each position)

Issue 1: QB's

Issue 2- RB's  

Issue 3: WR's

Issue 4: TE's

Issue 5: ILB- There is one thing for sure when it comes to Miami Dolphins Football- you can never have enough linebackers. After a solid showing from Mike Nolan's LB core last year, we know two things for sure. One, Cameron Wake is the real deal. Keep this guy firing on all cylinders and we will have one of the best pass rushers in the league. Two, Karlos Dansby is also every good as advertised. Though he was limited in game-changing plays (INT's or Fumbles), Dansby is a high energy guy, a defensive leader, and he seems to have an excellent knowledge for the game.

Outside of those two, the Fins are young and promising, however not proven. Koa Misi put together a fantastic first year including a few key plays at big times including the first defensive TD of the 2010 season! I personally think Misi has everything it takes to be a compliment of Wake, although a few people think we should address another pure pass-rusher. It is the other INSIDE LB position that I feel we can upgrade. Currently the ILB position behind Dansby includes Crowder, Dobbins, and Edds (who spent the year on IR). I feel we should start to groom another LB to eventually replace Crowder. Dobbins is a good fill-in but is not our permenant piece, and Edds could very well be the player we need, but nobody knows how he will rebound from injury. ILB isn't our most pressing need but adding another LB in the draft to compete is never a bad idea.


So without any more anticipation, let's take a look at the 2011 Draft Class at Inside Linebacker...




DraftSite Mock Player, Position, Pick Selected:*


  1. Martez Wilson, Illinois- 43
  2. Greg Jones, Mich St.- 75
  3. Casey Mathews, Oregon-104
  4. Kelvin Sheppard, LSU- 105
  5. Colin McCarthy, Miami-115
  6. Quan Sturdivant, UNC- 123
  7. Josh Bynes, Auburn- 185
  8. Chris White, Miss St.- 207
  9. Alex Wujciak, Maryland- 223
  10. Mike Mohamed, Cal- 251

*DISCLAIMER- Draft Site's Mock has updated since my last issue with all new picks. This will not affect this experiment however I wanted to clarify this in case there was some inconsistency with picks' numbers in the past. 
Below are my TOP 10 Values for ILB in the 2011 NFL Draft.

10 ILB's taken. None Projected to Miami.

In my opinion, this order is all out of whack.. there are a few names here that probably won't be drafted at all, and Draft Site has absolutely left a few key name players off this list. My ranked values below will show a handful of players that weren't projected in the mock above but could make a name for themselves in the pros.


TOP 10 Value- ILB Prospects -



  • #10 Scott Lutrus, ILB, Connecticut: 6'2, 241 lbs. - Projected Undrafted

While Greg Lloyd (son of former Steeler LB Greg Lloyd) got most of the attention at UConn, lining up just next to him, you will find another Husky LB that might be a better fit at the pro level. His range and mentality might fit better at an OLB position, but Lutrus displays good awareness and can make the play against the run. The main goal he needs to work on to become a more productive player would be his work on third down, both in coverage and in rushing the passer. Lutrus is still developing but could fit well for a few teams, and I think he would be worth a look in Round 7 or possibly as a UFA.



  • #9 Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, LSU: 6'2, 250 lbs. - Projected Pick 105

Another athletic prospect that might be converted to an outside linebacker, Sheppard has enough tools to definitely hear his name called at the NFL Draft. He does a good job pursuing and tackling in open space, and although he can play in zone coverage he does not possess elite speed. He is expected to go early, but has a few question marks and had a mediocre pro day, so he may sneak into day two. Sheppard has some upside, but he still has alot to prove that he can be a successful starting ILB in the NFL. If he slides into Round 4 or later, I wouldn't be surprised if Miami is interested.



  • #8 Mike Mohamed, ILB, California: 6'3, 239 lbs. - Projected Pick 251

Mohammed is a hard worker that put up great numbers over at Cal. He's a smart player who will instantly understand your system, provide solid depth, and produce on special teams as well. He is well-rounded but lacks the ELITE power and speed that you would like to see. However his instincts and character are exactly what you look for in a player, and he may be a good situational player that could surprise a few people, especially next to an all-pro like Dansby. Look for Mohammed in the later rounds before pulling the trigger.



  • #7 Mark Herzlich, ILB, Boston College: 6'4, 244 lbs. - Projected Undrafted

If you haven't heard the Mark Herzlich story, I suggest you take a few minutes to read this to get some perspective. Two years ago Herzlich's goal wasn't to make the NFL Draft, it was to survive. An unbelievable story, Herzlich plays at a non-stop energy level and his sheer determination is as good as anybody's in professional sports. He is a natural field leader and takes on blockers quickly, as well as chases the ball across the entire field. Despite his successes, Herzlich's medical history could scare some teams off and his 40 time was very slow at the Combine. But teams will like his size, strength and leadership; he would be a great player to pick up in the later rounds and would be a gem if he ended up as undrafted free agent.


  • #6 Casey Mathews, ILB, Oregon: 6'1, 231 lbs. - Projected Pick 104

Mathews is undoubtedly the most popular name at ILB of all the rookies, and he should thank his brother for his rising draft stock. Though Casey is solid, I have no doubt in my mind that one team will draft him way too early and expect him to be their version of his brother Clay. Although, this isn't impossible, it's far from likely. Mathews is intelligent, and highly productive but does not possess the size and speed of his older brother. He finished last at the combine for ILB's with 13 reps at the Bench Press, yet he makes up for lack of strength and speed with above average instincts and reaction time. He fits better in zone than in a man coverage. Though I like Mathews, he's hardly an ELITE value at pick 104, especially with other more pressing needs for the Dolphins. Don't expect Mathews to drop, but if he does he would be worth a look rounds 4-6.


  • #5 Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois: 6'4, 250 lbs. - Projected Pick 43

Martez Wilson is the overall consensus for #1 inside LB though he will most likely project as a strong side linebacker in a 4-3. Wilson put up a phenomenal combine, though overshadowed by Von Miller, and ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, which was the fastest of all LB's at the combine. Wilson however was one of the few players who performed worse at his Pro Day; his footwork looked 'awful', which may have hurt his draft stock. His long arms and good strength could handle most tight end's, but his awareness and endurance needs improvement and he does have some character flags. Martez should still lead all ILB's taken, but he could go anywhere from rounds 1-3, pending on what teams see in him. If he slips, he could be an option, but I don't think he will be the right value for Miami if he goes where he is projected.



  • #4 Nate Irving, LB, N.C. State: 6'1, 240 lbs. - Projected Undrafted

Irving has shown tremendous determination recovering from a car crash in 2009 that cost him an entire season of play. He is a bit undersized, yet runs well outside the tackle box, and has all the tools to compete for a starting job. Very instinctual player that has a knack for the ball, though he may be overwhelmed with larger blockers. Irving plays very well in the passing game, showing good discipline, and has proven able to jump routes as well as get to the quarterback in a hurry. Though Irving is on the smaller side, he shows all the other attributes to contribute at the next level and he is definitely one of the players on my radar. Irving should end up being drafted and I would think he would be a great fit for one lucky team in round 5. Will it be the Fins?



  • #3 Colin McCarthy, ILB, The "U": 6'1, 237 lbs. - Projected Pick 115

McCarthy is a player I love and feel would be a great gradual replacement for Crowder at inside linebacker for the Dolphins. He plays best in zone coverage and he has good instincts aagainst the run and enough size and speed to translate to the next level. He may not be able to hang with playmakers in man coverage however. However, as an inside run-stopper McCarthy is your guy. He is very passionate, but needs to watch his composure and hot head to stay under control. He has put together two productive seasons after a serious shoulder injury; if Colin is able to stay healthy, one team should get very good production. Perhaps he stays in South Beach? McCarthy would be a good value in rounds 3-5 and if Miami trades down to accumulate more picks, one might be used to snag the Hurricane bruiser.


  • #2 Mario Harvey, ILB, Marshall: 6'0, 257 lbs. - Projected Undrafted

Though he didn't get an invite to the Combine, Harvey is skyrocketing up draft boards, and for good reason. During his Pro Day, Harvey bulked up nearly 10 pounds, recorded an impressive 27 reps at his bench press, as well as posted an absolutely insane 4.43 40-yard dash, which critics proclaimed "he runs like a receiver and hits like a safety". Harvey was dominant at Marshall, posting 117 tackles, 7 sacks and earning All-Conference USA First Team Honors. He plays bigger than his height, and shows that dynamic stop and go speed burst that enables him to light up backs and surprise quarterbacks as well. He is going to outplay a handful of linebackers selected ahead of him and once Miami gets their NEEDS in order they should treat themselves to a late round player like Harvey.


  • #1 Quan Sturdivant, ILB, UNC: 6'1, 241 lbs. - Projected Pick 123

Quan Sturdivant has all the tools and should be the overall consensus at pure inside linebacker. Sturdivant attacks the line of scrimmage, shows good range in coverage and is a punishing hitter. He's intelligent enough to pick up new defensive schemes quickly, and he puts himself in a good position to anticipate routes in the passing game. Plus, he maintains speed in transition, making him highly effective in man coverage. His stock may have dipped due to the fact that he missed the last 5 games of last season due to a hamstring injury and for the fact that he lacks the elite power to take on great blockers. Sturdivant may be TOO good to drop to Miami but I feel as if he is good enough to warrant our 3rd round pick on him on talent alone. If he drops to 4th round or lower he would be an absolute steal. At the end of Round 4 at pick 123, which he is projected above, I feel he would be the overall best value at ILB; if I had any say I would vote for Sturdivant to be seriously considered by Miami in the middle rounds. Congrats to Quan, my #1 rated value at ILB in this year's draft. 


Quan Sturdivant vs Tennessee (2010)- Check out the burst at 1:00





Free Agent Prospects -


A.J. Hawk would have been a great fit for Miami, but Green Bay was wise to wrap him up after restructuring his contract. Tulloch and Posluszny would be instant upgrades, but are they the answer? We just paid for the best ILB in last year's free agency, I doubt we make another big splash in the same department just one year removed. Morrison or Cooper could be options, but that would pretty much push Crowder out in Miami, which I don't think will happen, atleast yet. Crowder is still serviceable in the run game, though unspectacular, and Morrison and Cooper wouldn't really fit as a long term solution. Inside linebacker would probably be just another position here in Miami that we address in the draft, or make due with our current roster.





Overall Analysis -


Though our linebackers could use some inside help in Mike Nolan's system, the fact of the matter is that they are still probably above average in the league and I would view ILB as more of a luxury for more depth than a pressing need. Free Agency shows some options, but none who would be a long term solution. The draft has some playmakers, and I feel as if there is a good chance we will take atleast one linebacker with one of our picks, especially if we accumulate more to move down. If we didn't have so many needs, mostly on the offensive side of the ball, I would go all aboard the Sturdivant train and try to get him in rounds 3-5. However, though he is my best value, I think QB, RB, WR and OL are all more important positions for Miami than ILB. In an ideal world, Quan would stick around for us in the later rounds, but it's just not a reasonable expectation. The same goes for McCarthy and Mathews, whom I have rated highly, but will most likely be selected early. Nate Irving and Mark Herzlich would be later round options that might be more realistic, however in terms of best value, I think Miami should take a long, hard look at Mario Harvey. If Quan is off the board, Harvey would be my selection and I think that Miami can get a top grade talent as late as rounds 4-7. My vote below (in my poll) for best talent will go to Quan Sturdivant, but my advice for Miami would be to grab the next best thing, Mario Harvey, in the late rounds after we address more important needs.


2011 Proposed inside linebackers:




Mario Harvey of the Marshall Thundering Herd.





Thanks for sticking around. I want to hear your opinion in the poll below on what you think the Miami Dolphins should do this off-season to address the ILB position? As always, Recs and Comments are appreciated, and the last PERFECT DRAFT issue will be out shortly, which will address the Offensive Line. That one should be JAM PACKED! Make sure to vote below in who you think is the best value at ILB in the draft and we will all be patiently waiting to see how Miami handles the linebacker spot before the season starts!



This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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