Position U inside linebackers: Inside the 2012 draft

Mike Huguenin
Yahoo! Sports

As a supplement to the "Position U" series, we take a look at the 2012 draft at the inside linebacker position:

When it comes to linebackers, NFL teams place a greater premium on pass-rushing outside 'backers than run-stuffing inside guys.

Just six inside linebackers have been taken in the first round in the past five drafts; there were none taken last year.

It's a definite possibility that just one will go in the first round this year. That would be Boston College's Luke Kuechly, who made 191 tackles last season and 532 in his three seasons with the Eagles.

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Alabama's Dont'a Hightower is the only other inside 'backer who could go in the first round.

Spotlight position: Inside linebacker

"Position U" team: Miami
"Position U" draft possibilities this season: Sean Spencer (likely third- or fourth-round pick, though some teams might prefer him as an OLB)
Number of inside linebackers drafted last year: 17
First-round inside linebackers last year: None
Number of inside linebackers drafted in past five years: 62
"Position U" inside linebackers drafted in past five years: Five (Colin McCarthy in fourth round in 2011, Darryl Sharpton in fourth round in 2010, Spencer Adkins in sixth round in 2009, Tavares Gooden in third round in 2008, Jon Beason in first round in 2007)
First-round inside linebackers in past five years: Six
Potential first-round inside linebackers this year: 2 (Boston College's Luke Kuechly and Alabama's Dont'a Hightower)
Conference breakdown in past five drafts: 13 from the SEC, 11 each from the Big Ten and Pac-12, 10 from the ACC, seven from the Big East, four from FCS schools, three from the Big 12, two from the Mountain West and one from the WAC
Conference breakdown of first-rounders in past five drafts: Three from the SEC, two from the ACC and one from the Pac-12

Sources: nfl.com; draftmetrics.com

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