Part two of our series will continue on the defensive side of the ball, as we’ll focus on linebacker groups. Let’s get into it, sha’ll we?
This position is so tough to rank with some teams playing 3-4 and others playing 4-3, so I had to throw a few honorable mentions in.
Honorable Mention: Jacksonville Jaguars, LA Rams, Oakland Raiders, KC Chiefs.
10) Washington Redskins (3-4)
Projected starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Ryan Anderson
I love what this team did in the draft, they found value all over the board.. especially with Ryan Anderson from Alabama. Anderson will need to unseat Preston Brown for a starting gig in what should be a battle that goes through the pre-season.
9) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4)
Projected Starters: Bud Dupree, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, James Harrison
Is James Harrison ever gonna retire? I mean goddamn that mans a freak! Check out his Instagram and see the shit that guy does for workouts. Add in that first rounder TJ Watt will be playing behind Harrison and this is a scary deep corps led by Ryan Shazier.
8) Minnesota Vikings (4-3)
Projected starters: Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Emmanuel Lamur
Barr and Kendricks might just be the most athletic duo in the NFL today. The retirement of Chad Greenway opens a whole that’s been plugged for 11 years. Lamur will get the first crack at the job, but look out for youngsters Kentrell Brothers and Edmond Robinson to push him for the starting spot.
7) Baltimore Ravens (3-4)
Projected starters: Terrell Suggs, CJ Mosley, Kamalei Correa, Tyus Bowser
Bowser was a prospect I absolutely loved in this past draft from Houston. Add in that they grabbed Alabama’s Tim Williams to split time and eventually overtake Terrell Suggs and you’ve got a serious group here. Not to mention Mosley’s one of the best in the business.
6) Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
Projected starters: Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, Riley Duke
Man this was already one of the most ferocious units in the league last year… And then they added Duke in the draft! This is a young unit that’s going to be nasty for a long long time.
5) Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
Projected starters: Cassius Marsh, Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright
Marsh really scares me.. not as a football player, just as a person I find him very creepy. Anywho, no explanation needed on Wagner and Wright. Doesn’t get much better than those two.
4) Carolina Panthers (4-3)
Projected starters: Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Shaq Thompson
This group is likely number one had they added some depth this offseason. Davis being a year old older and Kuechly missing lots of time with a concussion last season both scare me too much to put them any higher.
3) Denver Broncos (3-4)
Projected starters: Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, Todd Davis, Shane Ray
Shane Ray failing a drug test may have been the best thing to ever happen to him. He got to sit as a rookie and watch Ware/Von, then came in last year and showed some serious talent.. this year I expect him to jump into the upper tier of pass rushing LB’s. Marshall and Von need no introduction on their greatness.
2) Houston Texans (3-4)
Projected starters: Whitney Mercilus, Brian Cushing, Bernardick McKinney, Zach Cunningham
Holy moly, I see you Houston. Adding Cunningham to this group is going to keep the whole AFC South awake at night. If their secondary can play solid football this team could low key end up with the best defense in the NFL (assuming Watt is fully healthy).
1)Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
Projected starters: Chandler Jones, Hassan Reddick, Deone Bucannon, Markus Golden
Reddick was one of my top 5 favorite prospects in the whole draft, and to add him to this group is terrifying. Throw in the fact they’ll have Karlos Dansby, Jarvis Jones and Daryl Washington off the bench is insane! This is easily the top LB group heading into 2017.