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March 16, 2007
The 2007 Contenders: Butkus Award
Dick Butkus, a two-time All-American at Illinois and arguably the most intimidating linebacker in football history, was the third player selected in the 1965 NFL Draft.
Therefore, it's only fitting that the award which bears his name has usually been presented to linebackers that were first-round selections of professional teams.
Eleven of the 20 recipients of the Butkus Award, which is annually presented to college football's most outstanding linebacker, were first-round NFL picks. The 2006 and 2005 winners – Mississippi's Patrick Willis and Penn State's Paul Posluszny – are projected to be first-round selections in this year's draft. Two-time Butkus recipient Brian Bosworth of Oklahoma would have been selected in the first round had he not entered the supplemental draft.
As is the case seemingly every season, the upcoming 2007 campaign will include several worthy candidates for the Butkus Award - including a finalist and two semifinalist from a year ago. One player who is in contention excelled despite playing next to a former Butkus recipient. Yet another Butkus possibility led the nation's top-ranked defense in 2006.
Those are just some of the top contenders as projected by Rivals.com. With such impressive credentials, it's understood that the next Butkus Award recipient will be a driving force on the field.
And he will likely eventually be a first round draft choice.