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NFL DRAFT: Inside linebackers overview

Top pick

Martez Wilson, Illinois (6-foot-3, 250 pounds)

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Wilson stands out as the best of a poor crop of inside linebackers. He's a hard hitter who increased his draft status at the NFL combine, but even so he won't be picked higher than the middle of the second round. He's very coachable and his best football is ahead of him, but Wilson is raw and will need time to develop.

Best of the rest

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Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina (6-1, 241)

Sturdivant is a tackling machine who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He's a natural leader -- which is essential to the position -- with good football instincts that help him play beyond his athletic ability.

Future Charger?

Colin McCarthy, Miami (6-1, 235)

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McCarthy, a football player to the core, is an excellent tackler who plays well on special teams. That in itself would be attractive to the Chargers, but McCarthy is even more appealing as an inside linebacker. He plays with maximum effort and works hard against the run. He'll make an immediate impact on special teams and could develop into a starter on defense.

Value pick

Casey Matthews, Oregon (6-0, 231)

Matthews' draft prospects have improved by virtue of being the brother of Packers All-Pro Clay Matthews, but this projected fourth- or fifth-round pick has a great work ethic, solid football instincts and the desire to become great. He has limited athletic ability, but would offer a good value in the later rounds.

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