It used to be that the inside linebacker, or 'Mike' backer, was the anchor and soul of the defense. Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Ray Lewis come to mind as some of the greats when you start talking about the position.
These days, with the pass-happy rules of the NFL, the emphasis of the Mike backer has decreased a little bit, but teams still want to have a scary dude staring the quarterback down when he gets to the line. It makes sense to have speedy linebackers on the outside who can cover the pass, but teams still need that guy in the middle to make teams game plan around them.
Luke Kuechly out of Boston College and Dont'a Hightower from Alabama are the two highest rated prospects in this year's crop of ILBs, but they're hardly alone. Click through the gallery to see who scouts are high on for this week's NFL Draft.
Article by Eric Gray