Scouting report: James Laurinaitis

James Laurinaitis

6'2, 240 pounds | Ohio State | Middle linebacker

Strengths:
A top prospect since his sophomore season, Laurinaitis is about as solid of a linebacker prospect as there is in this class. Laurinaitis is a high-effort player who just finds a way to get it done during the game. A good athlete, Laurinaitis reads and reacts to plays very quickly. Moves fluidly sideline-to-sideline. Good zone coverage middle linebacker. Gets nice drops and has the ability to make a play on the ball. Gritty, high effort player who reportedly played his senior year hurt. Great character and a leader. Has every intangible a team will want.

Weaknesses: Laurinaitis has adequate weight, but he needs to continue getting stronger. He has some trouble taking down bigger running backs who get low on him. Struggles to shed blocks. Average, at best, rushing the passer. Doesn't really use any moves and relies on his athleticism to make the sack. Struggles at times keeping up with running backs in the passing game. Better served in zone. Will let his aggression and emotion get the best of him. What you see is what you'll get with Laurinaitis. It doesn't seem like he'll get much better than he already is.

Final word: A top performer his whole career with the Buckeyes, Laurinaitis is about as good of a competitor as there is in the draft. He plays with a lot of intelligence and can play the run and the pass. While he could have came out following his junior season and been a higher draft pick, Laurinaitis has the makings of a very good middle linebacker. He also has the speed and athletic ability to play weak-side linebacker. In 2006, he won the Nagurski Award for the nation's top defensive player. Butkus Award winner in 2007 for nation's top linebacker. Named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and 08. Three-time All Big Ten first-team performer. Three time All American. Finished his career with 375 tackles, 24.5 tackles for loss and nine interceptions.

Round projection: 1

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