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A closer look: Paul Posluszny

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I have a feeling that if the fans had a vote... they'd pick Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny as their first round pick. Not only is he a PA guy, a Penn State grad, but above all he's a linebacker... and we need linebackers. For some more on the man they call "Poz" from "Linebacker U" I turned to our resident SBN PSU expert Mike from Black Shoe Diaries

BGN - Although this may not be a question you could fully answer until the pro day.. but is there any buzz down there about which NFL teams may be sniffing around Poz?

BSD - I think pretty much every NFL team has talked to him and come away impressed. I've heard New England is looking at him really hard as a replacement to Tedy Bruschi. Poz didn't play much in the Senior Bowl leading many to believe Jon Gruden, who coached the North squad, was trying to hide him from the scouts and maybe drop his status a bit in hopes of landing him in Tampa Bay. I'm not sure if I believe that, but Gruden was very high on Poz in all the press conferences.

BGN - Here in Philly we could probably stand to upgrade all 3 LB positions. Although, we have some young talent on the edges that could maybe develop into starters... The middle is where we seem to really be hurting for the present and future. Where do you see Poz playing the NFL? Is he stronger against the run or pass?

BSD - He played outside linebacker his first three years before switching to outside linebacker his senior year. He can play both, but I think for the pro game he is probably best suited for the weakside linebacker position. His ideal playing weight is probably 220-225 lbs in order to maintain his speed.

He definitely plays the run better than anyone I've ever seen. He's a student of the game and anticipates the play meeting it head on. Penn State mostly plays zone defense, so that's what he did in college. In the few times he was put in a man-to-man situation with a tight end or running back he got beat pretty badly.

BGN - Is there a pro right now or in the past that you think compares favorably to Poz? I've heard him called a "poor man's AJ Hawk." As far as great Penn State LBs go, where do you think he ranks?

BSD - Poor man's A.J. Hawk indeed. That's the name Ohio State fans labeled him with after he outplayed Hawk in 2005. The two are pretty similar though, except Poz gets a haircut once in a while.

Former Penn State linebacker Jack Ham, as in the NFL Hall of Famer and winner of four Super Bowls with the Steelers Jack Ham, calls Paul Posluszny the best linebacker to ever play at Penn State. That's high praise for a school that boasts names like Greg Buttle, Shane Conlin, Lavar Arrington, and aforementioned Jack Ham. That said, it's hard to argue with him. Poz owns the record for career tackles at Penn State. That's quite an accomplishment at the school known as Linebacker U. In addition to the tackle record Poz has quite an impressive mantle at home with a Butkus Award and two Bednarik's on the shelf.

I always thought Lavar was the most physically gifted linebacker to ever play at Penn State. But he often played out of position and wreaked havoc all over the field. I think Poz possesses the best combination of physical talent and football I.Q. I've ever seen in a linebacker.

BGN - I think it's safe to say that Poz is probably the one guy that most Eagles fans would already know and love to see here. He's a Penn State guy and there's a LOT of Nittany Lion/Eagles fans. Is there anything about Poz that could indicate maybe he won't be a great pro? Is the old knee injury going to be an issue?

BSD - The knee is fine. You might hear some people he looked a step slow his senior year. That was just the first part of the year as he adjusted to the move from outside to middle linebacker. By midseason he was back to playing like an All American. As a run stopper he anticipates well and hits the hole hard, but sometimes he has trouble shedding blocks and maneuvering through traffic.

He needs some work in pass coverage like I mentioned before. He didn't play much man-to-man in college and often got picked on in zone coverage. With proper coaching he should be able to maximize his potential there. He doesn't have the blazing speed the scouts like to see in first rounders and he won't impress you with his vertical leap. I think you're going to see his draft status fall after the NFL combine as a result of it. But what he gives up in speed he makes up for with preparation, anticipation, dedication, and leadership. You will not have a better teammate or citizen than Paul Posluszny in your locker room.  He's going to have a long NFL career and if he falls outside of the first round he's a steal.

So do we draft Poz and let him anchor a young linebacker corps for the next 6 or 7 years? Or he is a great college player without the tools to make it in the NFL?

I have to say that I'm pretty encouraged by what Mike had to say. Poz seems to be one of those players that people are very split on. Several mock drafts have him as a 1st rounder and ranked as one of the top 2 or 3 LBs in the draft... others have graded him as low as a 3rd rounder.

Your thoughts?