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Todd McShay breaks down the linebackers invited to this year's NFL scouting combine and ranks them heading into the event. To see this and more, become an ESPN Insider.
The new millennium has seen some impressive college linebacker units leaving together for the NFL draft. First it was in 2003, when Miami had a pair of first-round picks in D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma, followed by Darrell McClover in the seventh round. Then in 2005, Ohio State one-upped the Hurricanes when the first-round tandem of A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter were accompanied by third-round selection Anthony Schlegel. But USC is about to trump both the Canes and the Buckeyes with its ridiculously talented foursome of Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews and Kaluka Maiava.
Maualuga should be the first ILB off the board -- likely in the top 20 picks overall -- to a team in search of a run-stuffing inside presence. There's also a good chance that OLBs Cushing and Matthews hear their names called by the end of Round 1. Finally, while it may be several rounds later, Maiava should be selected as a potential reserve outside linebacker and special teams reserve. All four are expected to put their skills on display at the upcoming combine.