DraftWatch: Middle linebacker prospects

Let's circle back on your request for more coverage of the Senior Bowl and less of the Pro Bowl, while also providing an epilogue for our earlier post on the Chicago Bears' future at middle linebacker.

As we've noted a few times this week, our group of Scouts Inc. staffers is providing thorough daily coverage of Senior Bowl practices. You need an Insider subscription to read most of it, but I'm sneaking you bits of relevant information when possible.

If the Bears intend to find a long-term replacement for Brian Urlacher, one prospect who has caught eyes during practices this week is Florida State's Vince Williams. From the Scouts report:Insider

"Florida State's Vince Williams (6-foot-0½, 247 pounds) is big and strong. He really shows up when they do any type of hitting and striking. He did a nice job of slipping blocks when he should slip blocks, did a good job of taking them on when he should take them on. He's playing with a chip on his shoulder.

"Sometimes guys emerge as leaders at the Senior Bowl, and this year Williams is one of those guys. The other players are rallying around him when he makes a play. You can see there's a little more emotion and fire with Williams. On Wednesday, you could see that he's a guy that everyone looks to on this defense to light a spark.

"He's not a great athlete laterally, but he ran well on a straight line, and that was surprising because we weren't sure if he could do that."

At the moment, Williams has a "57" grade from Scouts Inc., which roughly translates into a fifth-round value. Remember that player assessments are highly fluid at this time of year and could look much different after next month's NFL scouting combine.

If you're interested in higher-end inside linebacker prospects, here are Mel Kiper's top five at the positionInsider. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o remained Kiper's sixth-best overall prospect on his updated Big Board this week despite the current drama surrounding his off-field life.

  1. Te'o

  2. Georgia' Alec Ogletree

  3. LSU's Kevin Minter

  4. North Carolina's Kevin Reddick

  5. Florida's Jonathan Bostic