Spotlight shines on Pats' linebackers

Matt Williamson of ESPN's Scouts Inc. breaks down AFC East linebackers in his weekly series (Insider content), and slots them third in the division behind the Dolphins and Jets.

Williamson starts with the inside tandem of Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes, calling Mayo one of his favorite linebackers and Spikes a soon-to-be star.

At outside linebacker, Williamson focuses on 2010 second-round pick Jermaine Cunningham.

"As a rookie, Cunningham also did surprisingly well against the run. A big jump is not out of the question for Cunningham in his second season," he writes. "He should be a starter for years to come even if New England adds a high-priced free agent on the outside."

Williamson identifies two possible free-agent targets for the Patriots at the position -- Mathias Kiwanuka and Manny Lawson.