2009 NFL Draft: Dan Pompei's top inside linebackers By Dan Pompei | Tribune staff reporter April 21, 2009 * 1 * 2 * next 1. Rey Maualuga, USC. He is an excellent player who helps his team win. He has a good temperament for the game and is capable of setting the defensive tone. Maualuga is big and explosive, and he blows up plays. He is strong at the point of attack and a hard hitter who is most effective in the box. He has shown a lack of discipline off the field at times, but it does not have teams overly concerned. Some scouts question his instinct. 2. James Laurinaitis, Ohio State. If you are looking for a smart, consistent, tough leader for the middle of your defense, Laurinaitis is your man. He does not play with exceptional power or speed, didn't have a great season and is not a superior athlete. But he is a heck of a football player. He does everything fundamentally correctly, and he consistently finds the ball. He defends the run and pass well. 3. Jason Phillips, Texas Christian. The son of a coach is a smart player with good energy, and he runs well for his size. Phillips is tough and productive, as he started for four years. He has some versatility and could play outside in the right scheme. He is not a top-end athlete, and he gets overpowered at times. He currently has a sprained knee. 4. Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina. He is a big linebacker who could be a presence in a 3-4 defense. He is a good box player with strength to stack and stop the run. He can run pretty well for his size but is limited on passing downs. Brinkley won't fit a lot of defenses. 5. Brock Christopher, Missouri. Christopher is a solid linebacker who plays faster than he tests. He is not flashy, but he is solid. He plays physically and is competitive and passionate about the game. He is versatile enough to be a weak-side linebacker in the right system. 6. Scott McKillop, Pittsburgh. He is one of those too-short, too-slow, not-athletic-enough linebackers who makes play after play. McKillop is highly instinctive. He knows how to slip blocks and get to the ballcarrier quickly. He is not very explosive. 7. Darry Beckwith, LSU. He is an athletic player who has been productive. He is fluid in coverage and can make plays all over the field. But he is not very strong at the point of attack and is not an explosive hitter. He has a knee injury that could affect his draft stock. 8. Morris Wooten, Arizona State. An explosive player with straight-line speed, Wooten can be a big hitter. He plays with good effort and is very competitive. Wooten does not have great change of direction, power or ability to cover. Character concerns have arisen that probably will cost him. 9. Worrell Williams, California. An athletic linebacker who plays with some pop, Williams can run with tight ends. He is small, but he plays bigger. Williams sometimes doesn't read the play well. Brother D.J. Williams plays for the Broncos. 10. Spencer Adkins, Miami. A tremendous pro day workout has raised his stock. He doesn't have great size, but he is really put together well. Adkins has straight-line speed and is explosive, but his football IQ is questionable. He also could be considered as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense, though he does not have ideal length for the position. 11. Frantz Joseph, Florida Atlantic. An aggressive, downhill player, Joseph is a big hitter and a solid tackler. He also makes plays on the perimeter. A transfer from Boston College, he probably will be only a two-down player because his coverage abilities are suspect. 12. Brit Miller, Illinois. This is a tough, productive linebacker who is effective in a short area. He led the Big Ten in tackles per game as a senior. Miller finds the football well and has good strength. Some people think he could be Zach Thomas. He is not very quick or fluid and likely would struggle on passing downs. 13. Anthony Felder, California. He is on the small side but muscular. Felder plays smart, but he has no outstanding traits. He also can be considered as a weak-side linebacker. He might not be athletic enough to be an NFL starter but could be a special-teams contributor. 14. Antonio Appleby, Virginia. He has the kind of size and speed NFL teams are looking for, but his instincts and desire are marginal. Appleby runs and moves well. He seems confused on the field at times and does not make enough plays. 15. Solomon Elimimian, Hawaii. He is short and slow at 5-11, 221. Running a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash did not help him. But the game tape is pretty good. Elimimian is an explosive player who reads and reacts well. 16. Daniel Holtzclaw, Eastern Michigan. A productive four-year starter and team captain, Holtzclaw is the type of locker-room presence teams want. He prepares well and plays hard but is not a very good athlete. His stock has been rising. 17. Stanley Arnoux, Wake Forest. He was a good college player who was effective because he played smart and tough. He has some straight-line speed but is a limited athlete who, at 6 feet, lacks ideal height. 18. Maurice Crum Jr., Notre Dame. An active player with good intangibles, Crum lacks size and speed at 6 feet, 235. He is solid, does not blow responsibilities and can close quickly. He does not have the athleticism to cover, and his anticipation and decisiveness are questionable. 19. Josh Mauga, Nevada. He could get drafted because of his size, speed and athleticism, but he looks better than he plays. Mauga has marginal instincts and does not seem to have much fire.