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Old 05-26-2009, 04:41 PM   #1
Bronco Rob
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Default Sporting News Top 20 ILBs

1. Brian Urlacher, Bears. He recorded 90-plus tackles for the eighth time in his nine-year career but didn't make as many impact plays in '08. That has a lot to do with the lack of production from the defensive line. That will change this year, and Urlacher will play with renewed energy after being left off the Pro Bowl roster.



2. Patrick Willis, 49ers. Willis has 315 tackles in his two NFL seasons, the most in the league. He shows great range and a nose for the ball, and he now has experience. He likely will take the top spot from Urlacher a year from now.


3. Karlos Dansby, Cardinals. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis is talking about using a straight 3-4 scheme this season, but the Cardinals might not have the personnel to do it. Dansby aligns inside at times in 3-4 alignments, but that's only about 30-40 percent of the time. His best asset is versatility, an ability to line up anywhere on the field and make plays in every facet of the game.


4. Ray Lewis, Ravens. As long as he is protected by big guys like Kelly Gregg, Justin Bannan and Haloti Ngata, Lewis can do what he does best -- attack the ballcarrier. Lewis is a good tackler and run defender, and in '08 he proved he is surprisingly effective in coverage.


5. Jon Beason, Panthers. Beason has 278 tackles in his first two seasons, showing no struggles in filling Dan Morgan's role. Beason is a tremendous athlete with great range and an aggressive style of play.


6. DeMeco Ryans, Texans. Ryans' tackle numbers have gone down in each of his three seasons, but he still is highly productive. He is great at diagnosing plays and gets to the ball quickly. He is an outstanding athlete with great range and instincts.


7. James Farrior, Steelers. Age doesn't seem to be catching up to Farrior, 34. He set a career high in sacks in '07 with 6 1/2 and has 115-plus tackles in three of the last four seasons. He also is durable, having started every game but two since '02. He is an every-down player, even this late in his career.


8. E.J. Henderson, Vikings. He had put together back-to-back 100-plus tackle seasons and was playing at a Pro Bowl level in '08 when a foot injury ended his season in Week 4. He plays with a mean streak and is an excellent run defender who benefits from the double-teams drawn by Kevin and Pat Williams in front of him.


9. Barrett Ruud, Buccaneers. He has improved every season and is a tenacious and versatile linebacker who never comes off the field. He is a tough-minded player who plays hurt and probably is the best player on a good defense.


10. Kirk Morrison, Raiders. He has recorded at least 116 tackles in each of his four seasons and is excellent in coverage. He always hustles and shows great range and intelligence, making all the defensive calls. He is a natural leader.


11. Antonio Pierce, Giants. Pierce didn't have his best year in '08 and likely is looking forward to a fresh start this season. He is a smart, instinctive player who flows quickly to the ball and will be helped a great deal by the improvements along the defensive line.


12. Bart Scott, Jets. Scott will play the role of Ray Lewis in new coach Rex Ryan's defense in New York. Scott is strong and versatile, is a big hitter and can be an effective blitzer. However, while the Jets have some good players, Scott won't be surrounded by the same kind of supporting cast he had in Baltimore. The knock on Scott has been his inability to make an impact on his own. We'll see.


13. A.J. Hawk, Packers. He moves to a full-time gig inside in '09. We like his chances with big bodies Cullen Jenkins, Justin Harrell and rookie B.J. Raji in front of him. An intense and competitive player, Hawk loves contact and is a ferocious tackler. He moves quickly to the ball and should put up career numbers in the linebacker-friendly 3-4 scheme.


14. London Fletcher, Redskins. The undersized Fletcher has made a career of using his quickness, instincts and athleticism to make plays. He has recorded 100-plus tackles in nine consecutive seasons, and with Albert Haynesworth occupying multiple blockers up front another 100-tackle campaign is a lock.


15. D'Qwell Jackson, Browns. Jackson led the NFL in tackles in '08 with 154. He makes plays all over the field and always is around the ball. New coach Eric Mangini uses a scheme similar to the one used by former coach Romeo Crennel, so Jackson should have a nice easy transition.


16. Jerod Mayo, Patriots. The Defensive Rookie of the Year in '08, Mayo made an immediate impact on the Patriots. That's saying something in Bill Belichick's complex matchup scheme. Now comfortable in the system, there's no telling how good Mayo will be in Year 2. He could fly up this list.


17. Nick Barnett, Packers. Barnett is at his best when playing forward. He wraps up ballcarriers, particularly between the tackles, which makes the move to a 3-4 system a good fit for Barnett.


18. Curtis Lofton, Falcons. Lofton's tackling ability earned him the starting spot as a rookie, but he only played on running downs. He has spent the offseason working on his play in coverage, which means he'll be on the field on third down in '09. He will be better in Year 2 and make more impact plays.


19. Paul Posluszny, Bills. Posluszny, who missed 13 games of his rookie year after tearing his ACL, came on strong in '08 and surely benefitted from the presence of DT Marcus Stroud. Posluszny attacks the line and is a good tackler -- in tight quarters and in the open field. As he improves in zone coverage, he will climb the list. He is a young riser.


20. Jonathan Vilma, Saints. He, coming back from knee surgery, was a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year honors in '08. He didn't miss a snap last season and recorded a team-high 132 tackles. New coordinator Gregg Williams' scheme will help Vilma even more, allowing him to use his speed and athleticism to run to the ball and make plays sideline-to-sideline.



http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn...c.php?t=552520
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Old 05-26-2009, 05:45 PM   #2
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Wow I kinda thought Urlacher was dropping off.
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Old 05-26-2009, 06:13 PM   #3
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Where's Webster?
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Old 05-26-2009, 06:24 PM   #4
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So for our entire defense we've got champ bailey on a top 20 list and that's it, right...?
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Old 05-26-2009, 06:35 PM   #5
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Ah, how I wanted Willis to be a Bronco. Package our first and another pick to move up and grab him. But no. The genius front office packages its picks to move and up grab...Jarvis Moss.
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Old 05-26-2009, 06:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by telluride View Post
Ah, how I wanted Willis to be a Bronco. Package our first and another pick to move up and grab him. But no. The genius front office packages its picks to move and up grab...Jarvis Moss.
Willis went in the top 10. Denver would have had to give another first to move from the 20's to #7 or #8.
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Old 05-26-2009, 07:15 PM   #7
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Willis went in the top 10. Denver would have had to give another first to move from the 20's to #7 or #8.
Willis went at 11. We gave up our 21st, 86th, and 198th overall picks to move to 17, to pick Moss! We could have tossed in our 2nd rounder (Crowder) and moved to 10, and grabbed Willis. As is, we gave up three players to get a nothing player (Moss), then picked another nothing player (Crowder), with our 2nd Rounder.

Oh well, hindsight. It is frustrating, tho.
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Old 05-26-2009, 07:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by telluride View Post
Ah, how I wanted Willis to be a Bronco. Package our first and another pick to move up and grab him. But no. The genius front office packages its picks to move and up grab...Jarvis Moss.
I have no doubt that had we moved up to grab Willis, he'd be nowhere near the player he is today. Once Coyer was stupidly canned, we lost the ability to develop defensive players.
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Old 05-26-2009, 07:30 PM   #9
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I have no doubt that had we moved up to grab Willis, he'd be nowhere near the player he is today. Once Coyer was stupidly canned, we lost the ability to develop defensive players.
You may be right.
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Old 05-26-2009, 08:34 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TheReverend View Post
So for our entire defense we've got champ bailey on a top 20 list and that's it, right...?
Don't worry, one more season and Moss will be on the top 20 busts list.
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by telluride View Post
Willis went at 11. We gave up our 21st, 86th, and 198th overall picks to move to 17, to pick Moss! We could have tossed in our 2nd rounder (Crowder) and moved to 10, and grabbed Willis. As is, we gave up three players to get a nothing player (Moss), then picked another nothing player (Crowder), with our 2nd Rounder.

Oh well, hindsight. It is frustrating, tho.
We could have traded down and picked up Beason...
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:10 PM   #12
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We could have traded down and picked up Beason...
We could have gotten Ed Reed too, at least that's what I heard.
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