Heading into training camp, it’s worth taking a look at a few IDP position battles that have yet to be resolved. There is potential production available on the waiver wire depending on who wins each role. And knowing who’s competing in each battle will give you a leg-up when injuries inevitably occur.
Detroit Lions LB
The LB corp in the Motor City will likely be something to watch for the entire season. First Round Sophomore Jarrad Davis began his rookie season playing every snap. He became a liability in coverage, however, and in Week 10, his snaps were cut. He still played 70-80% of snaps for the remainder of the season, but the trend is the opposite of what we’re usually looking for…
Tahir Whitehead signed with the Raiders, the young buck of Oakland’s free agent class at the tender age of 28. Paul Worrilow signed with the Eagles. Worrilow tore his ACL in OTAs which likely wouldn’t even affect his athleticism, but they put him on IR anyway. So the only other guy left from last year’s LB group worth mentioning is 4th Round sophomore Jalen Reeves-Maybin. JRM played 239 snaps, weighted towards the end of the season. The rookie compiled 30 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and 1 FF.
New Head Coach Matt Patricia brought in Christian Jones from Chicago and Devon Kennard from the Giants. There’s been a lot of hype for these two as Patricia’s handpicked guys. I’m hesitant, however. Jones was 4th on the depth chart in Chicago last season behind Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, and Nick Kwiatkowski. Kennard topped out north of 60% of the snaps in just 2 of 15 games last season, while the Giants LB depth chart around him was a blazing dumpster fire of injuries.
It’s useful to take a look at how snaps played out for the LBs under Patricia in New England last season. In the two games Dont’a Hightower was fully healthy, Kyle Van Noy played 100% of snaps, Hightower topped 90% of snaps in both games, and Elandon Roberts was in the 30% range. In the games Hightower wasn’t healthy, Van Noy usually played 90-100% of snaps when healthy, but no one else did much outside of a few random games. Roberts played over 70% of snaps in 5 of 15 games. David Harris didn’t hit 50% in any game on the season. Marquis Flowers had two games over 70% of snaps while Van Noy missed time. Flowers also had five games where he didn’t see a defensive snap.
In Detroit, Davis will have a solid role. Past that, who knows? Kennard could play a 2-down SAM role similar to what he did in NYC, where he put together 41 tackles and 4.0 sacks last season. Jones and JRM both have a chance to win a productive role, but at this point, it’s just guesswork.
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