Inside linebacker isn't the most valuable position in the NFL Draft. Often times, talent at the position can be found later, and the value isn't always appropriate to select an inside linebacker in the first round.
Day two prospects prove to be the best picks at inside linebacker often times. Sean Lee, Lavonte David and Bobby Wagner are examples of players that have made an instant impact at linebacker despite lasting until the second round.
We'll dig even deeper into this year's crop of linebackers to uncover the potential hidden gems.
First team: Kiko Alonso, Oregon
Kiko Alonso has some red flags. He has had injury issues, off-the-field trouble and doesn't always play with the best instincts. However, Alonso is an incredible athlete for an inside linebacker and has the strength to excel in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He's versatile enough to play multiple linebacker spots and the upside is there for him to make an impact if given some time to develop.
Second team: Keith Pough, Howard
A fit for strong side or weak side linebacker positions in the NFL, Keith Pough was among the most productive linebackers in the nation this season. He has the build and athleticism to cause problems in the backfield. He understands how to play the position, and fills lanes well against the run. He will be a nice value pick in the middle rounds.
Honorable mention: Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech
Injuries have robbed Bruce Taylor of some of his natural athletic ability, but he's worth a late round pick on the chance that he is able to recapture some of that old form. He can get lost in traffic at times, but he's a strong, hard hitting linebacker with upside, provided he checks out medically.
A.J. Klein, Iowa State
A.J. Klein has all of the instincts and intangibles you look for in the linebacker position, but he doesn't quite have the athleticism to be considered a big time prospect at the position. Still, he's the type of player that should be able to earn a starting spot early in his career and make an impact on special teams at the very least. He's a smart, dependable linebacker.