As the 49ers get ready for the 2013 NFL Draft, there has been no contract movement on either of the 49ers backup inside linebackers, Tavares Gooden and Larry Grant. With the recent four-game suspension handed down to Grant, inside linebacker could be a position of need in the later rounds of this week's NFL draft.
This year's depth at ILB isn't as deep as others. Still there are some quality prospects to consider in later rounds to help on special teams and provide decent depth.
Below is my final top ten before Thursday's draft. Click here to checkout my previous rankings from January.
1. Arthur Brown 6'0'' 241 lbs -- Kansas State Stock: Rising Projection: Round 1
2. Alec Ogletree 6'2'' 242 lbs -- Georgia Stock: Rising: Projection: Round 1
3. Kevin Minter 6'0'' 246 lbs -- LSU Stock: Rising Projection: Round 1-2
4. Manti Te'o 6'1'' 241 lbs -- Notre Dame Stock: Falling Projection: Round 1
5. A.J. Klein 6'1'' 250 lbs -- Iowa State Stock: Rising Projection: Round 3-4
6. Jon Bostic 6'1'' 245 lbs -- Florida Stock: Steady Projection: Round 3-4
7. Kiko Alonso 6'2'' 248 lbs -- Oregon Stock: Steady Projection: Round 3-4
8. Nico Johnson 6'2'' 245 lbs -- Alabama Stock: Steady Projection: Round 4-5
9. Kevin Riddick 6'1'' 243 lbs -- North Carolina Stock: Falling Projection: Round 4-5
10. Michael Mauti 6'2'' 243 lbs -- Penn State Stock: Rising Projection: Round 5-6
The biggest mover in my rankings was Iowa State's A.J. Klein. Klein, to me is the perfect fit for the 49ers physical linebacking corps. He posted a better 40-time than most thought he would with a 4.66 at the combine. He's a smart, instinctual player that would be an immediate asset on special teams and an admirable fill-in should Willis or Bowman decide to take a break every now and again.
I rank Bostic higher than some. Bostic had an incredible combine, flashing his 4.6 speed. Bostic was a vocal leader for the Gators defense and plays extremely physical. He could stand to learn from some vets and coaches before seeing the field regularly and would be an excellent special teams contributor until ready.
Alonso is a bit of a wildcard. He's solid in coverage and matches up well against running backs and tight ends. He can struggle when coming off blocks but is lanky enough to improve in this area with proper coaching.
Other later round targets:
- Steve Beauharnais, Rutgers -- Above average run stopper, played 50 consecutive games at Rutgers including 40 straight starts.
- Vince Williams, Florida State -- Physical linebacker who is quicker than fast. Better against the run than in coverage.
- Jonathan Stewart, Texas A&M -- Special teamer struggled when TAMU went to a 3-4 defense in 2011.
- Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech -- Injury prone and slow during workouts.