Mayo, Ninkovich land on LB radar

Pat Kirwan's ongoing series on NFL.com, in which he breaks down top personnel at each position, has been a favorite read at this address. Kirwan takes the complex and simplifies it, while also detailing the different schemes and responsibilities players carry out.

Kirwan's latest entry is on linebackers and two Patriots show up on his radar -- Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich.

In grouping the league's top inside linebackers into categories of 1-5 and 6-10, Kirwan slots Mayo into the 1-5 group.

"Led the NFL in the unofficial stat known as tackles with 175 last season. Mayo has great passion for the game, and he prepares like a young [Ray] Lewis," Kirwan writes, also noting that Mayo is still on the rise.

Meanwhile, Ninkovich lands in the "honorable mention" category among outside linebackers, missing the Top 10 cut. Kirwan rates him on par with Koa Misi (Dolphins), Calvin Pace (Jets) and Joey Porter (Cardinals).