North linebackers leave a bit to be desired

MOBILE, Ala. — Michigan State’s Greg Jones had a lot of buzz entering Senior Bowl practices this week, but he has failed to live up to the hype. He’s way too stiff and struggled during blitz drills.

Perhaps most concerning about Jones is that he continually got caught up in the wash during running plays. If you aren’t able to escape blockers and avoid traffic in the middle of the field during a practice in which you know a particular running play is coming, that’s a bad sign.

He has not been particularly impressive so far. Then again, he’s not alone.

Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich deserves all the credit in the world for beating cancer and coming back as a productive player for the Eagles this season, but he just doesn’t possess the speed necessary to succeed in the NFL. He was beaten on the wheel route several times by the running back, and he has no quick twitch.

Oregon’s Casey Matthews has also had a tough time. He puts forth great effort and tries hard, but he is more suited for a special teams/backup role in the NFL. He has a difficult time covering tight ends and was not overly successful as a blitzer. His best spot on defense probably is as an inside ‘backer on a 3-4 team.

There was one noteworthy North linebacker. Connecticut’s Lawrence Wilson flashed exceptional ability as a blitzer and demonstrated suddenness and a quick twitch. He has multiple pass-rush moves, and his best fit probably is as a strong-side linebacker in the 4-3.

Tim Ryan contributed to this blog

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