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Shawne Merriman OLB/DE Maryland 6í4 245 Jr.
By: Robert Davis

Shawne Merriman was an instant contributor for the Terps as a freshman. Even though he started just one game, he finished the season with 49 tackles, 6 for loss, and 5 sacks. He improved on every major stat the next year as a sophomore, where he tallied 55 tackles, 9.5 for loss, and 8.5 sacks. He again improved his production this past season, as he finished with 85 tackles 17 for loss, with 8.5 sacks.

Pound for pound, Merriman may be the best athlete in the entire draft. He is an awesome athlete. He has a great build for a linebacker, has great speed, and has very good lateral agility. He is explosive up the field and can really put pressure on the quarterback. He has the ability and experience to play up or down in the pros.

While he has the skills to play either end or outside linebacker, he still needs work on both areas. As a 4-3 DE, he needs to pack on a few more pounds to handle the beating of taking on a lineman on every snap. As a linebacker, he could use more experience diagnosing plays and dropping into coverage.

Merriman has the ability to really rise up the draft boards this year. With the premium teams put on rushing the passer, he is going to be in very high demand come draft day. He reminds me a lot of John Abraham coming out of South Carolina a few years back. He isnít a household name yet, but he will be by April. The team that drafts him will determine the position he plays, but Merriman figures to hear his name called at some point in the first round. The safe best is the mid to late portion of the first, but he may surprise some and creep up around the Top 12 area of the draft.

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