Draft Preview: Linebacker

LB Dannell Ellerbe

With the draft around the corner, let's examine where the Dolphins stand at every position, what they've done in the offseason and what prospects could interest them in the early rounds of the 2013 draft. This installment looks at the linebackers.

On the roster: Dannell Ellerbe, Jonathan Freeny, Josh Kaddu, Koa Misi, Lee Robinson, Austin Spitler, Jason Trusnik, Philip Wheeler

Offseason moves: Signed Dannell Ellerbe (Baltimore), signed Philip Wheeler (Oakland), signed Lee Robinson, released Kevin Burnett, released Karlos Dansby

Analysis: The Dolphins' most surprising moves of the offseason came at linebacker when the team decided to let go of veterans Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett and replace them with younger, cheaper and faster alternatives in Ellerbe and Wheeler. The big questions will be whether Ellerbe and Wheeler turn out to be better. The only starting linebacker back from last season is Koa Misi, who turned in a solid performance on the strong side but who isn't a difference-maker. Even with the additions of Ellerbe and Wheeler, this definitely is a position where the Dolphins could draft someone early, particularly if Georgia's Jarvis Jones is available at No. 12.

The draft class: There's a lot of talent everywhere on defense in this draft, but it's probably thinnest at linebacker. Jones clearly is the top prospect on the outside and there's a big drop-off after him to Arthur Brown from Kansas State and Khaseem Greene from Rutgers. It's actually a pretty good year for inside linebackers, thanks to the trio of Alec Ogletree, Manti Te'o and Kevin Minter. Ogletree comes with off-the-field baggage, though, and everyone knows about Te'o's story.

BREAKING DOWN THE LB PROSPECTS:

The top prospect: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

Potential first-round picks: OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia; ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia; ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame; ILB Kevin Minter, LSU

Under-the-radar prospects: OLB Sio Moore, UConn; OLB Zaviar Gooden, Missouri; ILB Vince Williams, Florida State; ILB Kevin Reddick, North Carolina; ILB Keith Pough, Howard

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