Drew Boylhart 12/08
James Laurinaitis LB Ohio St
James has good size, strength and north-south speed to play his position. He is an excellent zone cover MLB and shows solid leadership skills. The kid is a hard worker and, on film, looks to be an excellent team player. He is very smart and when he is drops into coverage, he does an excellent job of covering the middle of the field. James is a solid player who might be playing out of position at the college level and could have more of an impact at the NFL level as a rush OLB in a 4-3 defense that uses a lot of zone coverage in defending the pass.
NEEDS TO IMPROVE
James is not very stout against the run. In my book, a MLB has to be a run stuffer first. James runs around blocks and does not move well laterally. He does not wrap up when he tackles, nor does he show enough of a burst to cover sideline to sideline. I just do not feel that James will have much of an impact as an MLB at the next level.
TALENT BOARD ROUND 2
James should be a solid pick for the team that drafts him, but not as an MLB. I would think that in a defensive scheme like the New England Patriots use, he would be a perfect fit as a weakside OLB. After a few years, I think James could blossom into an extremely efficient LB who might be able to play more than one position and impact in that scheme. I do not feel that a 4-3 defense is a defense that fits this kid's LB skills in general. He is not quick enough and his lateral agility is limited, which significantly affects his ability to change direction easily. He also does not show me enough of a burst to compensate for his lack of agility, but James is a hard worker and I'm sure after being in the league for a few years, he will learn all the tricks of the trade to compensate for his athletic limitations. I could see him playing for the Garden State Giants because they have such good down linemen; James would fit that situation very well. The Giants have the luxury of playing their LB's back off the line further than most LB's in a 4-3 play. This allows less athletic LB's to have better angles and not such long drops in the passing game. James should become a core player and a fan favorite, but his LTI is a little longer I think than most people expect. I'm sure James will be a hell of a special teams player as he learns all the tricks of his new position, which that alone makes him a first day pick in my book. Unfortunately, however, not a first round pick.