2009 NFL Draft Prospects: James Laurinaitis Profile
Strengths: Very good size and decent strength ... Outstanding production: 366 tackles and 13 sacks in three years as starter ... Solid athleticism ... Great instincts; diagnoses run and pass quickly ... Good gap discipline ... Smart and not easily fooled by OL traps/misdirection ... Great range when dropping into zone ... Soft hands and body control to intercept passes ... Potentially can play WILL ... Makes clutch third-down tackles ... Team captain ... Clean off the field.
Weaknesses: Shies away from taking on blocks ... Soft tackler who doesn't explode through ... Overaggressive and reckless when it comes to tackling technique ... Needs to do a better job of containing on outside runs instead of going for the huge play ... Too many arm tackles ... I do not see scheme versatility in the 3-4.
Summary: Laurinaitis is a very smart and active linebacker, but he does not always bring the physical, mentally tough part of the game to the table, which is frustrating. The strength and athleticism is there to be a very productive player in the NFL, but some coaching might have to be done to get him there. As of now though, I see him as being a solid starter in a zone-based 4-3 defense.
Player Comparison: Gary Brackett. Brackett keys in and reacts quickly, is smart, has range, but does not have the most physical mindset. I see Laurinaitis putting up similar statistical production and bringing the same leadership to a defense in the NFL.