In this special edition triple threat match on the defensive side of the bracket, we have three linebacker prospects battling it out. These three prospects are all too good to be left out of the bracket. Also, who doesn't want to see a battle of three linebackers to advance on to the second round of the tournament? Let's get right into this battle of linebackers.
Kevin Minter is a pure tackling machine out of LSU. He has the size you look for a run-stuffing linebacker (6'2 and 245 pounds). Minter has great speed sideline-to-sideline and proved his worth in the SEC this year. He has a thick build, with a well built lower body. His intelligence is great and what you expect from an NFL-caliber middle linebacker. Minter trusts his reads and processes plays at a high rate. Kevin is a great at sniffing out the misdirection play. He was named the team captain and voted MVP of the team.
In run support, Minter can flow over the top and get to the edges quickly. He has great strength to stay in the box and fight through lineman to get to the ball carrier. Kevin attacks the gaps aggressively and as mentioned, exceptional at reading plays. This helps him flow to the gap and make the right reads almost every time. Minter uses perfect form while wrapping up the ball carrier. When tackling, Minter can force out the ball at times. He can use his hands effectively as he can block shed off lineman and flow to make the tackle.
Minter can get to the quarterback very fast when blitzing up the middle or stunting to the outside. If he is unblocked, he will break down and not miss the quarterback with great tackling form. He times up blitzes well and goes disguised most of time before it is too late for the offensive line to notice. Kevin is great in pass coverage as well. He can consistently turn and run up field with tight ends in coverage. He can read the quarterback's eyes perfectly when he drops into spots he locks on to.
Kevin does have flaws in his game that could hurt him though. Even though he has great technique on tackling, he lacks great closing speed to get there in the first place. He is limited in blitzing, unless if it's a set-up blitz. Minter turns his back often to the quarterback in coverage, which is a huge no-no when in pass coverage. When in man coverage, Minter usually never turns his head around. That gets him burned a lot if he's against a speedy tight end. Overall, he lacks the natural ball skills you need to drop back in coverage as a linebacker.
Here are some scouting videos for everyone's pleasure. The videos are by the great, JPDraftJedi.
LSU vs. Florida: Minter #46 in white, lined up at inside linebacker. Finished game with 20 tackles (17 solo, 3 assisted) and two sacks.
LSU vs. Texas A&M: Minter is #46 in white, lined up at middle linebacker. Finished game with 12 tackles (6 solo, 6 assisted) and one sack.
Minter would come in and become a key rotational piece for the Colts right away in their 3-4 defense. He might not start right away over Kavell Conner and Jerrell Freeman, but he would eventually start. As I mentioned in the Ogletree vs Te'o article, Conner is a free agent after this upcoming season and maybe they let him walk. Minter is projected to go in the late first round. The falling stocks of Ogletree and Te'o have made Minter one of the top inside linebacker prospects in this draft.
Now we get to Khaseem Greene, a linebacker out of Rutgers. Greene is another tackling machine were looking at in this special triple threat match. He stands at 6'1 and weighed in at 230 down in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. Khaseem is a former safety, which means he has top-end speed for his position. He has high-end acceleration and shows excellent burst.
Greene's run defense is very instinctive. It shows that Greene is a film junkie, based on how he reacts on specific passes and runs. He keeps his eyes in the backfield and his hands stay constantly avoid being engaged with lineman due to this. Greene can maneuver through lineman traffic to get to the ball carrier. Khaseem can be a big hitter when it opens up at the right time.
Khaseem can run with tight ends down the field, has the speed. He is very good in play recognition. Greene can read-and-react with the best linebackers in this draft class against quarterbacks. He is willing to lay down a monster hit when a wide receiver crosses over the middle as well.
Out of all of the linebackers in this draft class, Greene is one of the best blitzers. He has terrific closing speed when blitzing, usually leads to a sack. Greene is calm in the gaps, and then explodes into the runner. Khaseem dips under the blockers, which leads him straight to the quarterback. Another note to add on here is that Greene has had no off-field incidents, which is a huge plus in this draft with controversial linebacker prospects.
The flaws in Greene's game can easily be seen on film. He is not a good lateral mover across the field. Greene is not that powerful and can be moved back by lineman into the second level. Khaseem makes way too much tackles too far down field. He usually loses his man in coverage due to looking at the quarterback's eyes too much. That means he is rarely used in man coverage. One major problem is that you see Khaseem takes some plays off, that's a red flag scouts will see.
Here are some more scouting videos about Greene below. The videos are by JPDraftJedi and Mario Clavel.
Rutgers vs. Syracuse: Greene is #20 in red, switches from playing both inside and outside linebacker. He finished with 14 tackles (9 solo, 5 assisted), 1.5 sacks, and one interception.
Rutgers vs. UConn: Greene is #20 in black, switches from playing both inside and outside linebacker. He finished the game with 8 tackles (5 solo, 3 assisted) and one interception.
Greene's stock right now could be anywhere from end of the first round to middle of the second round. The combine will decide where Greene ends up. He is scheme versatile, so he could play in our 3-4 defense. He would come in, like Minter, and be a rotational player at first. Eventually, he would start for the Colts a year or two down the line. It makes more sense for the Colts to trade down if they are targeting Greene, as I think he will be available in round two.
Now we get into our final prospect of our special triple threat match, Arthur Brown. He can play both inside and outside linebacker and he went to Kansas State. Brown shows excellent speed for the linebacker position, as he could wind up running around a 4.5 at the combine. He has a powerful lower body and fantastic balance for making his reads. Brown is also a very explosive athlete as well, and it shows on film.
Brown has great fundamentals in tackling the ball carrier. He takes excellent angles to the ball as well with his great athleticism. He is one of the better linebackers in this class at reading plays, one of the fastest on tape. Arthur can not stay blocked for long periods of time due to his great hand techniques. Brown's instincts and speed get him to the ball carrier before he can be blocked. Arthur is not afraid of taking on blockers in gaps, strong enough to power through them.
In coverage, Brown is one of the better ones in this linebacker class. He has fluid hips, which allows him to turn and run quickly with tight ends across the middle of the field. He can break down quickly and zone as he reads the quarterback's eyes. He has the ball-skills to become one of the better ball-hawking linebackers on the next level. Brown was used as a spy on Robert Griffin III and other mobile quarterbacks during his college career, because of his speed.
When blitzing, Brown has shown the ability to bull-rush lineman straight into the quarterback. His speed makes him a threat every play for a possible blitz up the middle and the lineman always have to spy on him. Brown's speed is a true game-changer in certain situations.
Arthur was a two-time captain for Kansas State. He was rarely caught out of position due to his awareness of where the ball was going on the field. Brown always seems to know where the play is going before it even starts, which is very rare to see from linebackers at this developmental time of their career. He has been known as a film junkie, which will pay off for him at the Scouting Combine and with coaches on the next level.
As usual, here are some scouting videos on Brown below by Aaron Aloysius and Eric Stoner.
Kansas State vs. Miami: Brown is #4 in purple, lined up at middle linebacker. He finished this game with 10 tackles (7 solo, 3 assisted) and one sack.
Kansas State vs. Oklahoma: Brown is #4 in white, lined up at middle linebacker. He finished the game with 8 tackles (3 solo, 5 assisted).
Brown seems like a fit for the Colts at inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense. Like the other two linebackers mentioned earlier, I do not believe he would start right away. He would be a key rotational piece and eventually start down the line. According to Matt Miller, NFL Draft lead writer for Bleacher Report, Colts scouts were all over him in Mobile. That would mean adding Brown in the second round, because I believe Brown would be a slight reach at pick 24. A linebacker rotation of Brown, Pat Angerer, Connor, and Freeman would be a great young building block for the defense for years to come.
After all of analysis, who will win this special triple threat match of linebackers and move on to the second round? Vote on the poll below and see who should advance on in the tournament!