Eric Kendricks, ILB/OLB, UCLA
Height: 6-0. Weight: 232. 40 Time: 4.61. Projected Round (2015): 1-2. 4/25/15: Kendricks had some questioning his speed and athleticism with many saying he wasn't as athletic as his brother Mychal Kendricks, a linebacker for the Eagles. Erik Kendricks then proceeded to rip off a 4.61-second 40 time at the Combine. In the field drills, Kendricks did well overall. He stumbled once, but looked quick and agile. Kendricks confirmed he has legitimate speed to be a sideline-to-sideline linebacker. He also showed the size to get consideration as a 3-4 inside linebacker.
Kendricks amassed 149 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two passes broken up, three interceptions and one forced fumble in 2014. The senior is a sideline-to-sideline run-defender who covers a ton of ground. He also is an asset in pass coverage as he guards some receivers well in man coverage and does very well in zone. In the NFL, Kendricks should be a three-down starter. He backed out on the Senior Bowl, and how he handled it rubbed some the wrong way.
The senior was all over the field against Virginia to open 2014. The big plays he made led to 14 points from the Bruins' defense. Kendricks stripped a receiver of the ball deep in UCLA territory, and a teammate scooped up the fumble to return it for a touchdown. While the quarterback was flooded with defenders on the next drive, Kendricks had tight coverage on the running back and was able to undercut the throw to pick it off and run 37 yards to take it to the house. Kendricks totaled 16 tackles, two passes broken up, the forced fumble and the interception against Virginia. He also was impressive against Texas (11 tackles), Arizona State (10 tackles), Washington (13 tackles), USC (14 tackles, 1 INT) and Stanford (11 tackles).
8/23/14: Kendricks played well in 2013 with 105 tackles, four tackles for a loss and an interception. He was third in the Pac-12 in tackles. Kendricks is an instinctive defender who can defend sideline-to-sideline.
Kendricks was a backup until a breakout 2012 season in which he led the Pac-12 in tackles. Kendricks had 149 tackles with six tackles for a loss, two sacks, four passes broken up, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick. His instincts were excellent as he did a great job of reading and reacting. Thanks to a disruptive defensive line and star outside linebacker Anthony Barr, Kendricks was able to make plays off of them.
Kendricks is getting good preparation from a UCLA coaching staff under Jim Mora, Jr. that has a lot of pro experience. While Kendricks plays middle linebacker for the Bruins, he would have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL if he can't add weight.
Personal: Economics major. Son of Marv Kendricks and Yvonne Thagon. Eric Kendricks is the younger brother of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks, a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of California.
Benardrick McKinney*, ILB/OLB, Mississippi State
Height: 6-4. Weight: 246. 40 Time: 4.66. Projected Round (2015): 1-2. 4/25/15: McKinney didn't impress teams in the Combine meetings, and that could hurt him come draft day. However, a ton of teams are showing interest in McKinney and view him as a play-maker with the versatility to be used in a variety of ways. Teams said that McKinney did better on his team visits than his Combine meeting.
McKinney had 71 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three sacks, one forced fumble and four passes broken up in 2014. One of those sacks came when he beat Texas A&M tackle Cedric Ogbuehi off the edge. McKinney was a big-time presence in the Bulldogs' defense and displayed the ability to be a three-down starter who can drop into pass coverage or rush the quarterback.
8/23/14: After redshirting in 2011, McKinney made a splash in 2012 and was named a First-Team Freshman All-American by numerous media outlets. He recorded 102 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and four passes broken up. The sophomore had 70 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 2013.
McKinney is an intriguing, versatile athlete who has a lot of upside. He has the potential to add weight and play 3-4 outside linebacker, and maybe even some defensive end, along with inside and outside linebacker. Sources have told WalterFootball.com that they view McKinney as a three-down middle linebacker candidate for the NFL.
Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami
Height: 5-10. Weight: 242. 40 Time: 4.78 Projected Round (2014): 1-2. 4/25/14: Sources say that Perryman could be a late first-round or early second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, though he's more likely to go in Round 2 because of height concerns. In 2014, Perryman recorded 110 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, five passes batted and an interception. Being taller, longer and faster would help him in pass coverage, which is the concern for the next level. Perryman also didn't have a fast 40 at the Combine (4.78 seconds), but that was expected by scouts and general managers.
Perryman is an instinctive, quick and physical linebacker. He provided a lot of good down-and-distance situations for his defense with his prowess to stop the run. Not only is Perryman strong against the run, but he has shown himself capable of playing some zone coverage. He could have three-down ability for the NFL, but might need some development in pass coverage. Perryman looks ready to be a starting middle linebacker in the NFL on first and second downs immediately.
8/23/14: Perryman was excellent for the Hurricanes in the 2013. The junior totaled 108 tackles with five tackles for a loss, one sack and three passes broken up. He turned in a monster game against Florida with 14 tackles and a forced fumble. Perryman had 11 tackles against Florida State and 15 against Virginia Tech. As a sophomore in 2012, he recorded 64 tackles with six tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, one forced fumble and an interception returned 41 yards for a touchdown.
Not only has Perryman been strong against the run, but he has shown well in pass coverage. Perryman covers a lot of ground and does a nice job of covering receivers who came into his zone. Perryman is a quick and physical linebacker who looks like he has three-down ability for the NFL. Sources told WalterFootball.com that they thought Perryman would have had a shot at being a first-round pick if he had entered the 2014 NFL Draft.
Stephone Anthony, ILB, Clemson
Height: 6-2. Weight: 243. Projected 40 Time: 4.56. Projected Round (2015): 2-3. 4/25/15: Anthony was a quality defender for Clemson during the past three seasons. He had 69 tackles with 10.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, three passes broken up, one interception and two forced fumbles in 2014. Anthony has the potential to develop into possibly being a three-down starter in the NFL. He put together a superb week at the Senior Bowl and showed some pass-coverage skills along with being a downhill thumper. At the Combine, Anthony blazed a fast 40 time that was much quicker than expected. He also looked good in the field drills.
Anthony totaled 131 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, one interception and five passes broken up in 2013. As a sophomore, he had 77 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, one pick and three passes batted.
Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU
Height: 6-0. Weight: 235. Projected 40 Time: 4.93. Projected Round (2015): 3-5. 4/25/15: Dawson had a good pro day to help his draft stock. He turned in a huge season to lead a tough Horned Frogs defense. Dawson put up a huge stat line with 128 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, five passes batted and four interceptions. Sources tell WalterFootball.com they like how active Dawson is, but he's undersized. That's probably why there is no consensus regarding his draft grade. One team had him in the second round, another said the third, some said in the fourth, and one had him as a sixth- or seventh-round pick. Dawson could go on Day 2 or slide well into Day 3.
At the Combine, Dawson had to answer lots of questions about off-the-field concerns. He also had a terrible performance on the field and ran extremely slowly.
As a junior, Dawson had 91 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, one interception and three passes broken up.
Personal: Son of Terrie Brooks. Majoring in criminal justice.
Hayes Pullard, ILB, USC
Height: 6-0. Weight: 240. 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 4/25/15: In 2014, Pullard was a steady presence who showed an ability to contribute on three downs. He has athleticism, instincts and lots of experience after being a 4-year contributor. The senior notched 95 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss, eight passes broken up and an interception in 2014. He could be a nice value pick in the mid-rounds.
Pullard had 94 tackles with eight for a loss and an interception in 2013. As a sophomore, he recorded 107 tackles with 5.5 tackles for a loss and an interception.
Taiwan Jones, ILB, Michigan State
Height: 6-3. Weight: 245. 40 Time: 4.95. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 4/25/115: Jones was a solid defender for the Spartans over the past few years. He recorded 60 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, four sacks and an interception as a senior. In the East-West Shrine, Jones had an excellent week to really help himself. He showed quickness and the agility to function in pass coverage. Jones also has the size to be a tough run-defender. He could use more development, but he has three-down starting potential. Jones ran slower than expected at the Combine.
Jones was a backup during his first two years, but as a junior, he had 67 tackles with seven for a loss.
Mike Hull, ILB/OLB, Penn State
Height: 6-0. Weight: 237. 40 Time: 4.68. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 4/25/15: Hull had a quality senior season for the Nittany Lions as he was a quality run-defender and was decent in pass coverage. Hull totaled 107 tackles with 10.5 for a loss, three passes broken up, one interception and one forced fumble in 2014. Hull had a decent week at the Senior Bowl, but didn't really stand out. He ran faster than expected at the Combine.
As a junior, Hull had 78 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, .5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two passes breakups. He recorded 58 tackles with four sacks, five tackles for a loss, one interception, and four passes broken up in 2012.
Personal: Son of Tom and Donna Hull. His father played for the 49ers and Packers.
Jake Ryan, ILB/OLB, Michigan
Height: 6-2. Weight: 240. 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 4/25/15: Ryan showed flashes of his 2012 form in 2014, and looked better on a weekly basis. For the year, he totaled 112 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and three passes broken up. Ryan had three tackles for a loss with double-digit tackles against Penn State and Utah. He is a tough run-defender who needs to improve his pass coverage for the NFL. Ryan was solid at the East-West Shrine and ran faster than expected at the Combine.
8/23/14: After an ACL tear in spring practice of 2013, Ryan made his return to the field in amazingly quick fashion. In a limited role against Penn State in early October, he had three tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Ryan wasn't the same player he was in 2012, but he contributed for his team. The junior had 30 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss. Ryan would have been better off taking a redshirt and having another year of eligibility to play college ball.
Ryan was Michigan's best defensive player in 2012, so it was understandable why they were desperate to have him back. Ryan led the team in tackles with 88 in 2012. As a sophomore, he also had 16 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three passes batted and four forced fumbles in a sensational season.
Ryan recorded 37 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, three sacks and one forced fumble in 2011. He is a pure football player with toughness, intelligence and good instincts.
Ramik Wilson, ILB, Georgia
Height: 6-2. Weight: 237. 40 Time: 4.77. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 4/25/15: Wilson racked up 110 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, three passes broken up and one sack in 2014. He has shown some ability to warrant consideration as a developmental three-down linebacker. Wilson struggled against Florida, and that caused him to see more plays on the sideline against Kentucky. He didn't stand out at the Combine.
8/23/14: 2013 may have been Wilson's first season as an every-down player, but he certainly made a big impact for Georgia by leading the SEC in tackles with 133. The junior was named an All-SEC First-Team selection. Along with his impressive tackle total, Wilson notched four sacks and three passes broken up. He did well as the Bulldogs' replacement for Alec Ogletree.
In 2012 and 2011, Wilson had only 10 combined tackles as a backup. The senior has some quickness and instincts, but showing pass-coverage ability will be important for his draft stock.
Amarlo Herrera, ILB, Georgia
Height: 6-1. Weight: 244. 40 Time: 4.83. Projected Round (2015): 4-6. 4/25/15: In 2014, Herrera totaled 115 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss, three sacks, one passes broken up and one interception. He is a good blitzer and run-defender, but he needs to improve his pass coverage for the NFL. Herrera had an ugly game against Florida, but bounced back later. He ran slowly at the Combine.
8/23/14: Herrera had a quality 2013 season as a run-stuffer for Georgia. The junior totaled 112 tackles, five tackles for a loss, six passes broken up with an interception. Herrera showed nice improvement in his pass-coverage skills. As a sophomore, he started nine games and had 70 tackles with a forced fumble and an interception. Herrera started eight games as a freshman in 2011, recording 37 tackles with a forced fumble.
James Vaughters, ILB/OLB, Stanford
Height: 6-2. Weight: 258. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2015): 5-7. 4/25/15: Vaughters totaled 42 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble in 2014. For the NFL, he would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Vaughters had a decent week at the East-West Shrine, but didn't do much to help his draft stock. He did not participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: Vaughters is a tough, physical linebacker who has some pass-rush ability. He had 36 tackles with six tackles for a loss, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2013. Early on at Stanford, Vaughters was an outside linebacker before moving inside as a sophomore in 2012. With Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov in the NFL, the Cardinal may move Vaughters around from inside in running downs to outside in passing situations.
Personal: Son of Jonathan and Vanessa Vaughters. Majoring in American studies.
Terrance Plummer, ILB, Central Florida
Height: 6-1. Weight: 232. Projected 40 Time: 4.78. Projected Round (2015): 5-7. 4/25/15: Plummer recorded 92 tackles, four sacks, six passes broken up, one interception and 13 tackles for a loss in 2014. He didn't participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: The past two seasons, Plummer has been a good leader for the Central Florida defense. He broke into the starting lineup in 2012 and totaled 108 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, one interception and two passes batted. Plummer improved in 2013 with 110 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and six passes broken up. Plummer ended the season playing well and was the Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP for the Knights win over Baylor (14 tackles).
Personal: Son of Beatrice Plummer. Majoring in sport and exercise science.
Reshard Cliett, ILB, South Florida
Height: 6-2. Weight: 235. Projected 40 Time: 4.61. Projected Round (2015): 5-7. 4/25/15: Cliett notched 37 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks, three passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2014. He didn't participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: Sources have told WalterFootball.com to label Cliett as a sleeper linebacker to watch. He's been on some bad teams, so it has been hard for him to stand out. Cliett had 56 tackles with a sack and three pass broken up in 2013. He made six starts in 2012 to record 40 tackles with a sack and three passes broken up. The senior could make a big jump in 2014.
Derrick Malone, ILB/OLB, Oregon
Height: 6-2. Weight: 220. Projected 40 Time: 4.62. Projected Round (2015): 7-FA. 4/25/15: Malone had 85 tackles with two passes broken up for the year. He did not participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: Malone was backup before earning a starting job as a junior in 2013. He totaled 105 tackles with two tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and an interception. Malone is a fast and athletic linebacker. He has started in the middle for the Ducks, but he will have to move to outside linebacker for the next level.
Personal: Son of Derrick Malone.
Deterrian "DT" Shackelford, ILB, Ole Miss
Height: 6-1. Weight: 252. Projected 40 Time: 4.82. Projected Round (2015): 7-FA. 4/25/15: Shackelford had 65 tackles with five tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two sacks in 2014. He was a solid defender and a leader on Ole Miss' tough defense. Shackelford didn't participate at the Combine.
8/23/14: Shackelford played mostly linebacker in 2013, but he also played some defensive end. The junior recorded 44 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks. Shackelford missed the 2012 and 2011 seasons with knee injuries. In 2010, he had five sacks while playing defensive end. The sophomore started half of the games that season. As a freshman in 2009, Shackelford recorded 20 tackles with an interception.
Personal: Son of Malcolm and Sherry Shackelford. Graduated with a degree in history.
A.J. Johnson, ILB, Tennessee
Height: 6-2. Weight: 245. Projected 40 Time: 4.71. Projected Round (2015): FA. 4/25/15: Johnson killed his draft stock with an off-the-field arrest. He and a (now former) teammate were under investigation by Knoxville police on rape and sexual assault allegations. They were indicted in February 2015. This wasn't Johnson's first arrest as in February 2014 he had a charge of purchasing alcohol for a minor. Johnson was suspended by Tennessee following the most recent incident.
Johnson notched 101 tackles with nine tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles in his abbreviated season. He didn't participate in the Combine.
8/23/14: 2013 wasn't a great season for Johnson even though he had 106 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss and three passes broken up; 10 of those tackles came against Florida and 12 came against Georgia. Johnson really needs to get better at reading his keys for the NFL. However, he has demonstrated enough athletic ability to play pass coverage as a three-down linebacker for the NFL, but he needs to improve his ability read an offense and get in the right place. Johnson also needs to improve his ability to get off blocks.
Johnson was the rare bright spot on Tennessee's woeful 2012 defense. He finished tied for fifth in the nation with 138 tackles. The sophomore also chipped in 8.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and one pass broken up. Johnson showed his athleticism by serving as the Volunteers' short-yardage ball-carrier, too. He ran for six touchdowns with 21 yards on 12 carries. Defenders seemed to hesitate to take on Johnson charging through the hole. He had 81 tackles with a forced fumble in 2011.
Johnson is athletic, fast and physical. Around Tennessee, he is known as "the beast." Johnson is extremely aggressive. He hits players with authority and puts ball-carriers into the ground hard.
Personal: Majoring in communications. Son of Vivian Drake.
Cameron Nwosu, ILB, SMU
Height: 5-10. Weight: 240. Projected 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2015): FA. 4/25/15: Nwosu had 23 tackles in 2014. He didn't look like the same player after coming back from the previous year's knee injury. Nwosu didn't participate at the Combine.
8/23/14: Nwosu was a good player at Rice, but decided to transfer to SMU for 2014, his final season. He missed the 2013 season with a knee injury while still with the Owls. In 2012, Nwosu racked up 92 tackles with three sacks, eight tackles for a loss and two passes broken up. He had 108 tackles the year before that.