Commentary

Breaking down the 2012 LB class

Instincts, strength, range and more separate the top linebackers

Originally Published: April 24, 2012
By Todd McShay | Scouts Inc.

When evaluating linebackers, it is important to consider all aspects of their games, including instincts, strength, range, tackling and coverage abilities.

Here's how we rank the top linebackers by skill set (non-seniors noted with an asterisk) heading into the 2012 NFL draft. Here also are our rankings of all prospects with a draftable grade, recent measurement and timing averages for combine linebackers, as well as Round 1 and 2 picks from 2011 and market trends at the position.

Instincts/recognition

Prepares in film room and is equipped with opponent's tendencies on game day. Reads keys, diagnoses information quickly and reacts naturally. Disciplined but not robotic. Understands role within the scheme and does not leave the unit vulnerable because of selfishness. Avoids false steps and biting on play-action. Has a nose for the football and makes important plays.