One thing that happens with the NFL Combine getting started on Tuesday is NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock gets on a conference call to talk all things NFL Draft and draft prospects.
He had that conference call on Monday and there is almost too much to discuss, but he commented more than once on the inside linebacker prospects of the draft. This will be of particular interest to Arizona Cardinals fans, as the team could look to upgrade there, or look to replace Daryl Washington.
One thing that stood out about the position in general is that Mayock doesn't think anyone at the position is really a first round talent. He said that "one of them could sneak into the first round."
One prospect that intrigues many is Mississippi State's Benardrick McKinney. He is big and athletic. Mayock calls him "a big downhill player" and also says he is "a poor man's Lavonte David."
David is an incredibly productive linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many feel he has deserved the Pro Bowl, but he also plays in the same division as Luke Kuechly, who could be the best linebacker on the planet. David has had no less than 139 tackles in any of his three seasons in the NFL and his 2013 year was special. Along with 145 tackles, he had seven sacks and five interceptions -- numbers that compare to what Karlos Dansby had the same season for the Cardinals.
But McKinney is one of a few prospects at the position.
Mayock likes TCU's Paul Dawson, but says "he is probably more fitted to the weak side." Interestingly enough, that sounds just like Daryl Washington, whom the Cardinals drafted out of TCU as well a few years ago.
Eric Kendricks and Denzel Perryman are both players, along with McKinney, who have been mocked to the Cardinals at pick number 24 in the draft. Mayock called them "phenomenal, active, fast inside linebackers."
Again, Mayock says twice, the players at the position are most likely second or third round players. He also mentions Clemson's Stephone Anthony as a guy who could be found in the third or fourth round. Mayock called him "a big, strong guy who can run," but also believes he can be a starter in the league as a 3-4 inside linebacker.
Based on what Mayock's comments Monday, the Cardinals could potentially find talent at inside linebacker on Day 1, 2 or 3, but mostly Day 2. Should the Cardinals wait for Round 2 to pick up one of these guys, or would selecting McKinney in Round 1 be the better bet?