COLUMBIA – After the 2008 football season, Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon decided to test the waters of the NFL Draft. He was told that if he were to come out after his junior season, a season in which he was a unanimous first team All-Big 12 Conference selection, he would likely be a third-round draft pick.
Weatherspoon stayed, bulked up, and improved his draft stock with a 2009 season that included 111 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and an interception. His 413 career tackles are the third most for the Missouri program and 10th all time in the Big 12.
Now Weatherspoon is a legitimate first-round draft candidate, with teams looking at him to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense or inside linebacker in a 3-4 set.
Weatherspoon has worked out for the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. All four of those teams consider linebacker a draft need, though unless Weatherspoon falls into the second round, Kansas City and Denver are an unlikely destinations. The Chiefs hold the 36th overall pick, the Broncos hold two picks in the top-15 of the second round.
Atlanta holds the 19th overall pick, New Orleans has the 32nd and final pick of the first round. Atlanta's pick might be too early for them to draft Weatherspoon — he's not the top linebacker prospect in the draft — but New Orleans' might be too late. Teams that need linebackers who could take Weatherspoon in the first round include: the Green Bay Packers with the 23rd pick, the Arizona Cardinals with the 26th pick or the San Diego Chargers with pick No. 28.