Sean Weatherspoon, OLB, Missouri
Weight: 240 pounds
40 time: 4.68
An extremely athletic and tremendously productive player in college, Sean Weatherspoon enters the NFL as one of the top linebacker prospects in the 2010 Draft.
A three-year starter at Missouri with great experience, Weatherspoon accumulated 410 tackles, 43.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 17 pass breakups, and four interceptions over the course of his career with the Tigers; he also returned two of the interceptions for touchdowns.
An all-around playmaker who is always around the football, Sean has some of the best sideline-to-sideline range of any linebacker in this year’s draft; he also hits like a truck when the opportunity presents itself. He has very smooth, fluid hips and he does a better job in coverage than most linebackers coming out of college; he has experience playing in zone coverage. He also does a nice job as a pass rusher; his great speed and agility gives him the ability to get into the backfield very quickly, which is shown in the high number of plays he’s made behind the line of scrimmage.
One thing that I love about Sean is that he shows up and plays well in the clutch and late in games when his team needs him the most. He’s a vocal and emotional player and his leadership is also outstanding; he’s also a smart player with excellent instincts and awareness. Sean has some trouble with taking on and shedding larger and stronger blockers; this is something he will need to work on at the next level, as the offensive linemen only get bigger in the NFL. He’s slightly undersized, and adding strength at the next level would really help him. One thing that I noticed in his game is that his upper body is stiff; he’s able to turn and run in coverage, however his balance isn’t terrific because he’ll stiffen up at times. Before his junior year, Sean had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, so this is something that teams will need to look into before deciding to draft him. I project that Weatherspoon will be drafted in the late-first to early-second round.
Weatherspoon, in my opinion, is one of the safer picks in this year’s draft because he’s a proven player you know exactly what you’re getting from him. His athleticism will provide his defensive coordinator at the next level with a lot of versatility in terms of what he’s capable of doing. I personally think that his best fit in the NFL will come as a weak-side linebacker in the 4-3, however he also has experience playing middle linebacker and playing inside in the 3-4 is another option. I fully expect to see Weatherspoon develop into a starting linebacker for the team that drafts him. He has nearly all of the tools, intangibles, and skills that scouts look for in a playmaking leader on defense in the NFL.
Notes: His nickname is “Spoon.” Sean was named second-team All-American as a senior and was named a third-team All-American as a junior. He was also named first-team Big-12 as a sophomore, junior, and senior. In high school, Sean also played wide receiver on offensive in addition to playing linebacker on defense. As a prep, he also was an All-State high-jumper in track and he was an All-District player as a guard in basketball.
Witherspoon will be a productive NFL and fantasy LB, pure and simple. He’s an intelligent and high-motor performer that will excel against both the pass and the run.
He, like Washington, projects as a pure 4-3 WLB, which means good things for him fantasy-wise. He probably has the best chance of producing right away out of any LB drafted in this class.