Do we need a linebacker?

Not much emphasis has been placed on acquiring a linebacker in the upcoming draft but perhaps that has been in error. The team has gone as far as scheduling a visit from at least one linebacker. Per the Post:

Since early last week, Zorn and Vinny Cerrato, executive vice president of football operations, and their staffs have met for about 16 hours a day, reviewing videotapes of players and discussing options, Cerrato said. Washington, which holds the 21st pick in the April 26-27 draft, also has scheduled visits this week with draft-eligible players. Former Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly and former Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo are among the players the Redskins plan to host.
The Kelly invite comes as no surprise as the team is in obvious need of a larger receiver to complement Santana Moss and bolster an underachieving receiving unit. Malcolm Kelly fits that bill. But Jerod Mayo? Marcus Washington, London Fletcher, and Rocky McIntosh make up a solid unit for the immediate future, yes? Perhaps not:
With weak-side linebacker Rocky McIntosh recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, the Redskins are expected to draft an outside linebacker. The Redskins have expressed optimism about McIntosh being ready to start the 2008 season, but McIntosh also has a potentially degenerative condition in both knees. Mayo, who also declared for the draft after his junior year, was a weak-side linebacker in his first two years at Tennessee and switched to middle linebacker before last season. Mayo (6-1, 242) led the Volunteers with 140 tackles last season.
Jerod Mayo projects as a first round pick. Although he hasn't been taken in our own Mock Draft yet, by pick 31, he is the number one available prospect on MTD's board. For depth we've got Khary Campbell (Note: Covering the Redskins thinks he's good for special teams only), H.B. Blades (The Hamburglar) and then a bunch of people I've not heard of: Danny Verdun-Wheeler, Rian Wallace, and Matt Sinclair. This is neither good nor horribly bad; I think Campbell can backup on both outside spots and feel fine with the Hamburglar in the middle. I do lament the fact that we may end up having spent a 2nd round pick (McIntosh), 5th round pick (Hamburglar), 6th round pick (Dallas Sartz) and potentially early pick this coming year on linebackers, without a starter to show for it. If McIntosh's knee is indeed degenerative -- and I pray it is not -- then we're in hot water at linebacker in spite of expending large draft resources on the position.

I don't know what the future holds in Re: Rocky McIntosh, but I know it's a lot brighter if his knee holds up. Question to reader(s): Should we draft a linebacker in the 1st round? I'd vote no, initially, and say that concerns about Rocky's injury should prompt, if anything, the drafting of a reliable backup linebacker in a later round. Unless the team knows something the rest of us don't (and of course they do) then mere concerns over a knee shouldn't force our hand on the first round draft pick. Then again, they scheduled the meeting with Mayo and both Marcus Washington and London Fletcher are in their 30s.

PS: On all things Jerod Mayo related, please check out one of the best blogs on the entire network. Rocky Top Talk is our Vols blogger and does outstanding, recognized work at his blog.

Rocky Top Talk, NFL DRAFT PROFILE: LINEBACKER JEROD MAYO

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