2. Off-ball linebacker
I’m very harsh on off-ball linebackers because…they don’t really matter.
Alright, maybe that isn’t the right way to say it, but people put too much emphasis on the impact they have on the game. In fact, if you don’t have one of the three or four best off-ball linebackers in the NFL, the gap in talent between the top and the bottom isn’t as wide as people think.
Look, I think having a David Long Jr. is always a good thing, but the Tennessee Titans signed someone who will have a very similar impact in Azeez Al-Shaair. Do you know where both of those guys were drafted? Long was a 6th-round pick and Al-Shaair was an undrafted free agent.
While you can’t just find anyone off the street to come in and play linebacker in the NFL, it is a lot like the defensive version of tight ends. Sure, you might be the lucky team that gets Devin White or Kyle Pitts in the first round, but history says you are much more likely to get a Devin Bush or an O.J. Howard.
Intelligence, intangibles, and scheme fit are so important at the linebacker position, which is why the guys on the roster already like Al-Shaair and Monty Rice are good enough to push linebacker from a position of need to a position of want.
Keep in mind, Mike Vrabel is head over heels for Jack Gibbens, and Chance Campbell got hurt before he could make the roster last season. Throw in a special teams ace like Luke Gifford and you probably have all the linebackers you need to start the 2023 season.