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Insider

USC's Rivers, Penn State's Connor top linebacker prospects

The 2008 linebacker class is loaded with promising talent. Seven seniors who have first-round potential include outside linebackers Keith Rivers, Dan Connor, Xavier Adibi and Malik Jackson, and inside linebackers Vince Hall, Jonathan Goff and Philip Wheeler.

Most observers rank Connor as the top overall linebacker at this point, but the preference here is Rivers. Connor is a bit tougher than Rivers and will have more versatility after spending his senior season at Penn State playing inside linebacker in place of Paul Posluszny, who was drafted by the Bills early in second round of the 2007 draft. Rivers is bigger and more athletic and there is something to be said for the fact that he finished as the leading tackler last season on a USC defense loaded with future NFL starters.

Adibi and Jackson are both vastly undersized but explosively fast weakside linebacker prospects. In order to land spots in the first round Adibi and Jackson need to be more consistent as seniors and get bigger without losing speed when they prepare for postseason workouts.