This IDP Sleeper piece is the first of an 8-part series where I will be canvassing the Linebacker corps for each division in the NFL. The purpose of these pieces will be to help you to identify the IDP Sleepers that could potentially become valuable assets in your quest for a league championship. Let’s get started!
The Dolphin linebackers were all shook-up after the 2015 season when Kelvin Sheppard left for the New York Giants and Kiko Alonso arrived via trade. Alonso missed the entire 2015 campaign due to injury, and has to prove to the coaching staff and organization that he is worthy of a starting role. If Kiko struggles, look for Mike Hull or Zach Vigil to get a chance in 2016.
Mike Hull – A 2015 rookie out of Penn State who spent most of his season on the bench, Hull has a chance to play at the MLB position for the Dolphins. The 2nd year pro is a reliable form tackler and shows good route awareness in zone coverage. Unfortunately, his short arms and limited athleticism may hinder him from being a special player.
Zach Vigil – Also a 2nd year man in the Dolphin line-backing corps. The former Utah State stud put together a few good games in 2015 (totaled 18 tackles in limited action). Vigil is expected to get 1st team snaps at training camp, and as a high motor guy, may become a valuable commodity in 2016.
New York Jets
The J-E-T-S have David Harris and Darron Lee locked into middle linebacker duties, so you won’t find to many “Sleepers” at ILB on the Jets roster. However, if you get big points for sacks, don’t sleep on the Jets 3rd round pick from 2015, Lorenzo Mauldin, as a possible “buy low” target for 2016.
Lorenzo Mauldin – A rush backer in the Jets 3-4 scheme who was able to put together four sacks and a fumble recovery over the final nine games of the 2015 season. Now penciled in as a starter in New York, the Louisville alum expects take his hard work and talents to new heights in 2016.
New England Patriots
The Patriots did what the Patriots do, by trading away one of its top defenders (Chandler Jones) to Arizona this offseason. To fill the void left by Jones, the organization drafted Kamu Grugier-Hill, who could have huge upside for 2016 and beyond.
Kamu Grungier-Hill – Is an explosive athlete with major range and speed (4.45 second 40-yard dash). Belichek loves multi-dimensional players, so Grugier-Hill’s strengths will be valuable in cover and blitz situations for the Patriots. Selected in the 6th round out of Eastern Illinois, Grugier-Hill is only 215lbs, which may allow him to play SS as well. Although, if he stays at LB, he’ll need to bulk up to become an every-down backer.
The Bills organization invested their 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th round picks of the 2016 NFL draft on their front seven. The investment should pay off with players like Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland and Adolphus Washington all expected to make major contributions as rookies. However, one under-the-radar signing the Bills made this offseason was Zach Brown. The former Tennessee Titan was a solid starter, and is a nice veteran to have if the young Buffalo LBs struggle in training camp.
Zach Brown – Tallied 90+ tackles each of his first two NFL seasons before an injury derailed his third season. The Bills and head coach Rex Ryan confirmed in April, that Zach Brown was the team’s starter at WLB. The depth chart has since changed, but don’t count out Brown to earn snaps in 2016.