6-2/242 Ohio State
Pros: A smart player with good instincts. Is tough, tenacious and seems to crave contact. Has good pop as a tackler and does a nice job wrapping. Works well between the hash marks and does well in confined space. Shows nice burst to the ball, showing ability to play in space and make plays in pursuit. Does a nice job attacking the line of scrimmage, maintains good gap control and is a capable blitzer. Has good awareness and ﬂuid hips in zone coverage. Better there than in man coverage, but is solid there as well.
Cons: Lacks sideline to sideline speed and range. Struggles at the point of attack, shedding blockers and gets caught up in the trash too often.
Overview: Laurinaitis is a versatile player that can really do anything you ask him to do. He's a solid two-direction player that works well backwards in coverage and forwards vs. the run, but not so great laterally. One of his issues was that he was not a difference maker in OSU's big games against top competition over the years. Had very consistent production in all three years as a starter. Son of Joe "Animal" Laurinaitis, a famous professional wrestler in the 80s and 90s.
NFL Forecast: Laurinaitis can fit in a number of schemes. I think the best scheme for him would be as an inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. But I believe he could also play any of the multiple positions in the 4-3 scheme. Although in that scheme, he'd probably be best working as a WILL, with MIKE being his second best position. I think he would be miscast as a SAM linebacker in the 4-3 since he doesn't get off blocks well and doesn't appear that able to play on the line. Laurinaitis has the upside to be a solid starter, but probably won't be a top impact player regardless of the scheme he is in. But if you put him behind a solid defensive line that can keep blockers off him, then he can be a nice, rangy playmaker. He'll do his best work in coverage however, which is why he is a good fit as a WILL, able to cover backs out of the backfield. He is a tough player that I think has the ability to make the calls and be the leader of the defense, but he isn't really the playmaker I'd like to be my top guy. He's not going to be Ray Lewis by any means.
ATL Forecast: Laurinaitis could fit in Atlanta as a weakside linebacker. He's a similar player to Lofton and they could be interchangeable inside, but since Laurinaitis is more capable in coverage, it makes sense to move him outside. He's smart and capable enough to start right away in Atlanta, but will probably sit for a year behind Nicholas or Peterson. He's not as fast or explosive as Peterson was in his prime, but they are similar type players. And he'd be a good fit to replace him down the line as he'd be taught well by him over the next year or two. He'd be quality player that would team nicely with Lofton, although he's not the constant impact player on the outside like a Lance Briggs.
Value: Laurinaitis because of his lack of elite potential is at best a late first round pick. I'd rather take him however in the early part of the second round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
POINT OF ATTACK: 3.5
PASS RUSH: 3.0
Scouting Reports of inside and outside linebackers in the 2009 NFL Draft
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