By the end of this offseason, it's quite possible that we'll set an NFC North blog record for discussions about inside linebackers. The Chicago Bears need a long-term replacement for Brian Urlacher, the Minnesota Vikings' starter (Jasper Brinkley) is a pending free agent, the Green Bay Packers might be looking for help at inside linebacker, and the draft's most recognizable name is Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
To that end, it's worth noting where the inside linebacker class stands, at least in the eyes of ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. Kiper Jr. updated his list of the five best players at each position this week, while McShay released his third mock draft.
McShay had two inside linebackers in his mock: Georgia's Alec Ogletree to the New Orleans Saints at No. 15 and Te'o to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 32. Kiper's top five, on the other hand, looks this way:
Ogletree is considered the most talented inside linebacker in the draft, but has experienced two significant off-field issues in the past year, a drug suspension and a drunken-driving arrest. Obviously, Kiper Jr. thinks those issues will hurt him more than McShay does. Minter didn't impress teams at the NFL scouting combine with his time of 4.81 in the 40-yard dash at 246 pounds.
It makes you wonder if one of our teams would have a chance to draft a top-five inside linebacker in the bottom half of the second round. These assessments will change once again now that pro days have begun, but that's where things stand at the moment.