I’m wrapping up my three part series explaining the positional roster battles that we’ll be watching in training camp this year. We’ve already taken a look at the offensive skill positions and the offensive and defensive lines. Now it’s time to turn my attention to the linebackers and defensive backs.
Locks: Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright
On The Bubble: Korey Toomer, Alan Bradford, Mike Morgan, Malcolm Smith, John Lotuleiei
Longer Odds: Kyle Knox, Ty Powell, Craig Wilkins, Heath Farwell
Having just 5 LBers isn’t normal, but both Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril will be spending significant time playing LB, and are thus a proxy 6th LB as far as the roster is concerned.
This hurts Heath Farwell more than anyone. He’s a special team’s ace, but offers almost nothing for the defense. If the team keeps just 5 LBs, all of them will have to be capable of contributing on defense. Connecting those dots means bad things for Farwell.
Morgan and Smith are both close to locks. I had them listed as so originally, but the truth is that neither is untouchable. The other 3 that are on the bubble are all superior athletes. If they show they can turn that athleticism into production, then they could supplant the incombant backups.
Defensive Backs (10)
Locks: Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Antoine Winfield
On The Bubble: Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane, Byron Maxwell, Tharold Simon, Chris Maragos, Winston Guy, Jeron Johnson
Longer Odds: Will Blackmon, Ron Parker, DeShawn Shead
The big factor here is that Browner, Thurmond and Winfield are all in the final year of there contract. If they all make the team, than the team is almost certain to keep 4 safeties and 6 CBs. If Simon and Lane make the team over Thurmond, then the team might keep a 5th safety. It’s an unlikely scenario unless Thurmond once again get hurt.
That leaves a very interesting battle between Guy, Johnson and Maragos competing for 2 spots. Johnson can plays both FS and SS, so really any combination is possible.