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#1 Jene Bramel

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:35 AM

These tiers will obviously change significantly between now and August. But it痴 never too early to take a stand and start sorting players into tiers.

I知 going to use this thread to update the linebacker tiers through the summer (they値l also be translated into my rankings starting in early May after the NFL Draft). Each update will have its own post in the thread, with later posts including a notation for changes from the previous version. I値l link the post to each version here to keep things (somewhat) organized.

For the purposes of the defensive line tiers, assume a league with 60+ LB rostered, 25+ starting LB, a balanced scoring system (about 4:1 sack to tackle) and a relatively strong upside bias.

Discussion is welcome and encouraged.

Post Coaching Changes / Pre Free Agency
Version 1.0 (Post 2)

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#2 Jene Bramel

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:36 AM

Version 1.0

ELITE
Desmond Bishop
D嘆well Jackson
Patrick Willis
Derrick Johnson

LB1 W/ ??? FLOOR
Colin McCarthy
Daryl Washington
Sean Lee
Curtis Lofton
James Laurinaitis
Ray Lewis
Pat Angerer
NaVorro Bowman
David Hawthorne

LB2 HIGH FLOOR
Paul Posluszny
Donald Butler
Jerod Mayo
Chad Greenway
Jon Beason
London Fletcher
DJ Williams
Brian Cushing
Brian Urlacher
Stephen Tulloch

LB2 HIGH CEILING
Lawrence Timmons
Rolando McClain
Sean Weatherspoon
James Anderson
Kelvin Sheppard
Karlos Dansby
Mason Foster
Perry Riley
Brandon Spikes

RUSH LB2
Von Miller
DeMarcus Ware
Tamba Hali
James Harrison
Kamerion Wimbley
Aldon Smith

LB3 LOW RISK/DEPTH
Lance Briggs
Kevin Burnett
Nick Barnett
David Harris
Jonathan Vilma
Michael Boley
Mathias Kiwanuka
Thomas Howard
Daryl Smith
Paris Lenon
DeAndre Levy
AJ Hawk
EJ Henderson

RUSH LB3
Connor Barwin
Clay Matthews
LaMarr Woodley
Ryan Kerrigan
Brooks Reed
Justin Houston
Shaun Phillips
Brian Orakpo
Sam Acho

UPSIDE ROSTERS/TIER JUMPERS
Bruce Carter
Rey Maualuga
Nate Irving
Jonathan Goff
Barrett Ruud
Thomas Davis
DeMeco Ryans
Martez Wilson
KJ Wright

ROOKIE WATCH
Luke Kuechly
Vontaze Burfict
Donta Hightower
Zach Brown
Lavonte David
Bobby Wagner
James-Michael Johnson
Sean Spence
Demario Davis
Audie Cole
Mychal Kendricks
Nigel Bradham
Keenan Robinson
Emmanuel Acho
Shea McClellin

Courtney Upshaw
Nick Perry
Melvin Ingram
Cam Johnson
Andre Branch
Vinny Curry
Bruce Irvin

#3 Shane Falco

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:52 AM

Clint Session done or just off the list in the next group?
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#4 jacobo_moses

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:06 AM

Clint Session is probably off the list because has too much of an injury history, is a 2 down Linebacker as well. Is that right Jene?

#5 Jene Bramel

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:07 AM

Clint Session done or just off the list in the next group?

I must be missing something with Session. I get asked about him a couple of times a month. I still think he can be a valuable run defender and wouldn't pigeonhole him as a Tampa-2 system player, but there's been no indication that the Jaguars see him as an every-down player. And he's not been productive enough against run-heavy matchups as guys like Dan Connor or Jovan Belcher to be considered as a LB5/bye week/matchup replacement. He'd fit into the "replacement level currently, needs an injury to have any real value" tier alongside guys like Jo-Lonn Dunbar or Justin Durant for me.

#6 Bronx Bomber

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:10 AM

Where would you put Lofa Tatupu is he ends up on Philly?

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#7 Jene Bramel

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:28 AM

Where would you put Lofa Tatupu is he ends up on Philly?

Toward the end of the LB3/depth tier if he's able to play every down. Would expect that I'd be lower on him than most if that happens. He'd have to show much better range and power between the tackles before I'd consider him. Instincts and proper run fits can only get you so far. I'd love to see his knees healthy enough to allow him to play as he did five years ago, but I think it's a longshot. Very much doubt that anyone signs him with the expectation that he can hold up as a starting inside linebacker.

#8 The Comedian

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 04:46 PM

What happens to Angerer's value if the Colts go to a 3-4?

#9 Illegal Pants Downfield

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 07:37 PM

Thanks, Jene... Thoughts on Kavell Conner or Jamar Chaney? A bit surprised to see neither of them listed...

#10 buck56

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 08:03 PM

Jene what do you think about Jasper Brinkley in Minny if he takes over the middle? Is he good enough in coverage to play 3 downs?

#11 Jene Bramel

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:04 PM

What happens to Angerer's value if the Colts go to a 3-4?

Colts are definitely moving toward hybrid base. Depends on how often they use the 3-4 as a base, which ILB role he plays and whether he plays every down. I think he's relatively safe but there's definitely risk there. New coach, new front office and new scheme. He was up and down last year and end of 2010, so there's reason for concern for what Pagano etal may see on film, too.

#12 Jene Bramel

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:07 PM

Thanks, Jene... Thoughts on Kavell Conner or Jamar Chaney? A bit surprised to see neither of them listed...

Marginal talents with marginal upside with no guarantee they'll be every down players. There's an argument both belong in "upside roster" or "high floor depth" tier but I think they're more likely sell high or cut for better upside than holds.

#13 Jene Bramel

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:12 PM

Jene what do you think about Jasper Brinkley in Minny if he takes over the middle? Is he good enough in coverage to play 3 downs?

I haven't seen anything that makes me confident that Brinkley will play every down. Both Hendersons are free agent, but I think it's likely that one or both re-signs. Brinkley probably in LB2 upside tier as every down player, but he'd have to look very good to hit 90+ solo ceiling.

#14 5-ish Finkle

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 02:23 PM

Think there's any chance Kiwanuka gets moved back to DE if Osi flies the coop in NY this year?
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#15 ADP

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 09:03 AM

Thoughts on Jordan Senn in Carolina?

#16 Bronx Bomber

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:16 AM

Is Johnathan Goff's upside dependent on him re-signing with the Giants or do you just like him as a player? If he leaves do you see Greg Jones as their every down MLB and where would you put him on this list?

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#17 Jene Bramel

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:23 AM

Think there's any chance Kiwanuka gets moved back to DE if Osi flies the coop in NY this year?

There's a chance. I think the staff likes him at linebacker on most downs, though.

Thoughts on Jordan Senn in Carolina?

Replacement level talent. Was never high on the list of injury replacements until this year; Gaither, Williams, Williams and others got shots ahead of him at times over the past two years. Ron Rivera had some nice things to say about his play, but if Jon Beason is healthy, Senn is a base defensive player at best. He'll be behind both Beason and James Anderson on the nickel depth chart.

Is Johnathan Goff's upside dependent on him re-signing with the Giants or do you just like him as a player? If he leaves do you see Greg Jones as their every down MLB and where would you put him on this list?

Dependent on him re-signing with the Giants and the expectation that the Giants may continue to prioritize other positions in the draft over ILB.

#18 Warhogs

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:27 AM

Excellent work as usual Jene. I can't wait to see your tiering for DB.

#19 chris_dub

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 11:55 AM

No Wesley Woodyard??

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#20 Jene Bramel

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 12:43 PM

No Wesley Woodyard??

Joe Mays is a free agent but I think we'll either see Mays re-signed or Irving in the middle before Woodyard gets a shot at an every-down job (which would necessitate Williams moving inside). Woodyard is a nice player, but he's a starter in subpackages only with the current depth chart.

#21 SlevinKelevra

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 09:28 PM

Why is McClain so low ? He had a strong finish last year (last 6 games after the arrest) Are you worried for a possible suspension ?

#22 Jene Bramel

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 10:32 AM

Why is McClain so low ?

He had a strong finish last year (last 6 games after the arrest)

Are you worried for a possible suspension ?

Ignore the following and skip to the end if you feel comfortable with the reasoning behind the tier process itself. :P

-------------

The beauty of tiers -- and the difficulty for those who prefer a straight rank list -- is that this particular group of players...

LB1 W/ ??? FLOOR
Colin McCarthy
Daryl Washington
Sean Lee
Curtis Lofton
James Laurinaitis
Ray Lewis
Pat Angerer
NaVorro Bowman
David Hawthorne

LB2 HIGH FLOOR
Paul Posluszny
Donald Butler
Jerod Mayo
Chad Greenway
Jon Beason
London Fletcher
DJ Williams
Brian Cushing
Brian Urlacher
Stephen Tulloch

LB2 HIGH CEILING
Lawrence Timmons
Rolando McClain
Sean Weatherspoon
James Anderson
Kelvin Sheppard
Karlos Dansby
Mason Foster
Perry Riley
Brandon Spikes

...isn't nearly as different when you're using tiers as when you're looking at a 1-XX rank list.

Though it suggests that Colin McCarthy is ranked 5th and Rolando McClain is ranked 26th, they're really aren't that far apart in reality.

LB1 with Unknown Floor
LB2 with High Floor
LB2 with High Ceiling

Is there really a big difference between what those three tiers mean? To me, there is. I think there's more upside (today) in the first tier, a lot of safety in the second tier and a mix of both (with a relatively lower ceiling) in the third. But it's close.

When I translate these into my rank list later this spring, I'd expect that some of the players in the second and third tiers here will rank above those listed in the tier above. That's because I have to make a call on how confident I am in a player's likely floor and upside (which includes some of my own biases on whether ceiling or floor is more important.

Don't look at McClain as "low" here.

See him as in a range between 10-12 and 20-25. Read those tiers as saying that I think he belongs in the LB2 tier, that I don't feel he has true LB1 upside, but that I think he has a relatively higher ceiling (with a little more risk) than those in the high floor tier "above."

-----------

Regarding McClain specifically...

I like the uptick in his peripheral stats last year (four sacks and 13 PDs) but his inconsistent effort and inability to finish plays he should have continue to limit his solo tackle upside. That bothers me enough (despite seven games with seven or more solos in a season where he dealt with leg injuries) that I'm not confident enough in his chances to hit a 95+ solo ceiling to slot him in the higher LB1 upside tier.

There's also reason, as you note, to be concerned about his off-field issues and I expect that the Raiders will use more 3-4 fronts in the base defense. I think McClain's expectation is closer to David Harris than Ray Lewis if he slots at 3-4 SILB / 4-3 MLB as I suspect he would.

Still, there's an argument that there isn't much difference between Timmons and McClain and Hawthorne. I've no argument with those who would put Timmons and McClain at the bottom of the LB1 with questionable floor tier alongside Hawthorne (or Hawthorne down with the Timmons and McClain). The order in Post 2 is how I felt about the three at the time.

#23 SlevinKelevra

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 04:36 PM

Ok, thanks for the explanation :thumbup:

#24 ninerfanatic492000

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 07:30 AM

does the dolphins possible scheme change back to a 4-3 help or hurt Dansby and Burnett? both had monster statisical games at times last year. i could be wrong but i don't believe Burnett has played in a 4-3 as a pro(nor misi of course). the fins don't seem to have a true 4-3 MLB. IMHO misi/dansby/burnett all seem to fit more of a SLB role with maybe Burnett having WLB ability.

#25 Jene Bramel

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 08:32 AM

does the dolphins possible scheme change back to a 4-3 help or hurt Dansby and Burnett? both had monster statisical games at times last year. i could be wrong but i don't believe Burnett has played in a 4-3 as a pro(nor misi of course). the fins don't seem to have a true 4-3 MLB. IMHO misi/dansby/burnett all seem to fit more of a SLB role with maybe Burnett having WLB ability.

I agree that the Dolphins' depth chart looks like a bunch of 4-3 OLBs. The prevailing thought in the local media seems to be Dansby MLB, Burnett WLB. I think that's probably the best lineup fit, too. You're correct that Burnett has never played in a four man front, though the brand of 3-4 he's played in resembles a 4-3 in many ways. Using last season's stats as a baseline, the 4-3 isn't likely to help either player significantly. Whichever player lines up inside has the better chance at a 90+ solo season, but I don't know that either will have true LB1 upside without well above-average opportunity.

#26 houndirish

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:18 AM

So is this offseason the time to buy Nate Irving before he potentially explodes or is Irving still very much a gamble? I liked Irving coming out but noticed he had a quiet rookie season. That in itself doesn't make me that nervous however I didn't see enough Broncos football to get a good estimation on how their personnel will shake out and if Irving really is their future or if he's just a prospect with an opportunity.
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#27 Jene Bramel

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:54 AM

So is this offseason the time to buy Nate Irving before he potentially explodes or is Irving still very much a gamble? I liked Irving coming out but noticed he had a quiet rookie season. That in itself doesn't make me that nervous however I didn't see enough Broncos football to get a good estimation on how their personnel will shake out and if Irving really is their future or if he's just a prospect with an opportunity.

Prospect with opportunity. It's a risk, but a prime buy low situation. If you can pay LB4 prices for his LB2+ upside, it's worth it. Joe Mays is a free agent, but he played well and may not draw that much attention on the market. If he's brought back, Irving will have to be very effective to win a job. There's also no guarantee that he'll play in subpackages if Wes Woodyard is re-signed.

#28 buck56

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 06:19 PM

Jene, word has it Nolan is going to bench Lofton on 3rd downs if he resigns w/ the Falcons? Do you think this will really happen? If so i would guess that Loftons value would plummet? :cry:

#29 Jene Bramel

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 05:40 AM

Jene, word has it Nolan is going to bench Lofton on 3rd downs if he resigns w/ the Falcons? Do you think this will really happen? If so i would guess that Loftons value would plummet? :cry:

Not sure what to make of that. It's not unreasonable, and I think Nicholas can handle the job well. But I wonder how connected Pasquarelli is anymore and whether this may be a negotiating tactic. We've seen what this would do to Lofton in his rookie season (and with many other guys). He's a matchup LB3 without subpackage snaps.

#30 houndirish

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:36 AM

What's the perceived effect of the regime change in Tampa on Mason Foster? I liked what I saw out of Foster in his first season. Tough to say what impact if any the front office housecleaning will have.
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#31 Jene Bramel

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:12 PM

What's the perceived effect of the regime change in Tampa on Mason Foster? I liked what I saw out of Foster in his first season. Tough to say what impact if any the front office housecleaning will have.

I think the new flavor of the 4-3 (assuming it's the same Miami style 4-3 Schiano and Butch Davis have favored in the past) could be very good for Foster. But I'm not sold on him. He really struggled between the tackles at times and was up and down in coverage. If he's the every-down MLB in a slightly more downhill scheme and the DTs are healthy, it'll be hard to keep him out of the top 20-25. But I'm not yet convinced his ceiling is as high as others who have thrived in that scheme before him.

#32 Drop

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 04:07 PM

Kavell Conner impressed me throughout the season. He in decisive and gets downhill quickly and hits hard. I don't have a complete picture of his coverage game because I don't have access to game tape that shows it completely, but from what I have seen he seems to be just fine. He is one of those guys that just "flashed" for me. Dekoda Watson is another player that "flashed" in my eyes, I think he needs to get more snaps. Sean Weatherspoon makes too many mistakes, I think he is a bad player although his fantasy production opportunity is a different story.

#33 saintfool

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 06:15 AM


Jene, word has it Nolan is going to bench Lofton on 3rd downs if he resigns w/ the Falcons? Do you think this will really happen? If so i would guess that Loftons value would plummet? :cry:

Not sure what to make of that.

It's not unreasonable, and I think Nicholas can handle the job well. But I wonder how connected Pasquarelli is anymore and whether this may be a negotiating tactic.

We've seen what this would do to Lofton in his rookie season (and with many other guys). He's a matchup LB3 without subpackage snaps.

is nicholas another of those "NFL-is-not-FF" players? i had high hopes for him going into the season.
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#34 Bdub

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 06:24 AM

I think a guy flying under the radar right now is Kelvin Sheppard. He didn't really go nuts or anything during his rookie season, but he got some serious playing time (like Lofton his rookie season) and looks to be ready to roll as the Bills new 4-3 MLB this spring. Check this out from Rotoworld: Kelvin Sheppard - Linebacker New DC Dave Wannstedt has singled out MLB Kelvin Sheppard as a nucleus player on the Bills defense. "I've got all the confidence in the world with Shep," said Wannstedt. "To me he's about what you're looking for in a 4-3 middle linebacker. ... I think it's going to fit his skills to a 'T'. I think he's going to be a very, very productive player for us." Sheppard is going to be a player to target in IDP formats in 2012. Feb 16 - 5:29 PM Jene, can you give us some thoughts about his play, opportunity, and expectations if he is their 3 down MLB? I'm liking this guy right now... Get him cheap before he goes Desmond Bishop all over your league!

#35 buck56

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 09:50 AM

I think a guy flying under the radar right now is Kelvin Sheppard. He didn't really go nuts or anything during his rookie season, but he got some serious playing time (like Lofton his rookie season) and looks to be ready to roll as the Bills new 4-3 MLB this spring. Check this out from Rotoworld: Kelvin Sheppard - Linebacker New DC Dave Wannstedt has singled out MLB Kelvin Sheppard as a nucleus player on the Bills defense. "I've got all the confidence in the world with Shep," said Wannstedt. "To me he's about what you're looking for in a 4-3 middle linebacker. ... I think it's going to fit his skills to a 'T'. I think he's going to be a very, very productive player for us." Sheppard is going to be a player to target in IDP formats in 2012. Feb 16 - 5:29 PM Jene, can you give us some thoughts about his play, opportunity, and expectations if he is their 3 down MLB? I'm liking this guy right now... Get him cheap before he goes Desmond Bishop all over your league!

I read a tweet from Wannstedt that went something like this, Nick Barnett played well last season and will play MLB for us in the nickle. If this is the case, i would temper my expectations.

#36 blend

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 11:39 AM

yeah, I thought I read someplace that Barnett would be Will in Base and move to MLB in Nickel

#37 jacobo_moses

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 11:49 AM

Let's have Jene weigh in here. A) Before we get too worried we should see how often the Bills go into a nickel formation. B) Does Sheppard not have the skill set to grow into a 3dwn MLB or not? Jene could tell us I think. :football:

#38 Jene Bramel

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 12:41 PM



Jene, word has it Nolan is going to bench Lofton on 3rd downs if he resigns w/ the Falcons? Do you think this will really happen? If so i would guess that Loftons value would plummet? :cry:

Not sure what to make of that.

It's not unreasonable, and I think Nicholas can handle the job well. But I wonder how connected Pasquarelli is anymore and whether this may be a negotiating tactic.

We've seen what this would do to Lofton in his rookie season (and with many other guys). He's a matchup LB3 without subpackage snaps.

is nicholas another of those "NFL-is-not-FF" players? i had high hopes for him going into the season.

I like Nicholas a lot as a player. He is very productive on a per snap basis and one of those guys who would jump tiers immediately if he's put in an every-down role by design or due to injury.

#39 Jene Bramel

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 12:46 PM

I read a tweet from Wannstedt that went something like this, Nick Barnett played well last season and will play MLB for us in the nickle.
If this is the case, i would temper my expectations.

Full transcript here with lots of detail about what to expect from the Buffalo base defense. In short, Wannstedt tried to keep from committing to specifics, but you can read between the lines and see that he'll favor the "Miami" 4-3 as we expected.

Here's the important part of the linebacker discussion (though Wannstedt had nice words for Sheppard later in the press conference).

The beautiful thing about Nick is really nothing has to change for Nick. He was an outside backer last year. He値l be an outside backer this year. He was our mike nickel in third-down. Nick Barnett had an outstanding year last year. And I learned this at Dallas, our first Super Bowl we had nobody go to the Super Bowl that year and after we go to the Super Bowl and have success as a team I think the next year we had six or seven guys. Were they the same guys? I think they were. But you know how that recognition thing works. Nick had a great year last year. There will be a few changes. I知 over simplifying it. But from a position standpoint, outside in the 4-3, inside in our nickel package that will remain the same.

Though there were subpackages in which Sheppard played when five DBs were on the field last year, it again would seem that the Bills would prefer Barnett as the primary nickel backer. Wannstedt didn't specifically say that Sheppard wouldn't play in the nickel, but there's no reason to flip the two roles in subpackages. If Barnett slides inside, Sheppard isn't flipping to a nickel OLB role.

#40 Fiddles

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 06:48 PM

Hearing Nolan is considering bringing crowder in if they let lofton go.

#41 voiceofunreason

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 07:42 PM

What about Mouton, is he likely to start this year and Spikes leaving?

#42 msommer

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:00 PM

Is it historical data that makes you value Daryl Smith low risk LB3 and Posluszny High floor LB2 despite almost bringing in the same FFP in 2011? It seems that Poz gets credited with a lot of assists (50 vs 33 for Smith) and big plays are virtually identical. Apart from that I'd like to know more about Mouton as well, but guess we'll have to wait for mini camp to see what kind of shape he is in

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#43 Jene Bramel

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:52 AM

What about Mouton, is he likely to start this year and Spikes leaving?

I think the Chargers would probably like Mouton to play based on draft position and immediate post-draft comments. Free agency, the draft and Mouton's health are all unknowns, but it won't be surprising to see Mouton at SILB. I wasn't a big fan of his prospects in that role last year (but I said the same about Bowman until I saw him on the field). That, and the uncertainty around his potential subpackage role, are keeping him out of these tiers for now.

#44 Jene Bramel

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:55 AM

Is it historical data that makes you value Daryl Smith low risk LB3 and Posluszny High floor LB2 despite almost bringing in the same FFP in 2011? It seems that Poz gets credited with a lot of assists (50 vs 33 for Smith) and big plays are virtually identical.

I think the 70 solos were an aberration last year for Posluszny. His play didn't fall off, his opportunity wasn't terrible and his supporting cast really wasn't that good. I think Posluszny still has a 90 solo ceiling. I've always liked Smith, but I still think he's a 75-82 solo player in his current role.

#45 Jaysports

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:45 AM

Gene, what's your personal take on Perry Riley? Are his numbers down the stretch last season what we should expect to see this year from him? Is he a 3-down LB? Is Fletcher back, and does his value go up when/if Fletcher is gone?

Edited by Jaysports, 24 February 2012 - 05:48 AM.

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#46 Alex P Keaton

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 07:18 AM

Kavell Conner impressed me throughout the season. He in decisive and gets downhill quickly and hits hard. I don't have a complete picture of his coverage game because I don't have access to game tape that shows it completely, but from what I have seen he seems to be just fine. He is one of those guys that just "flashed" for me.

Wow, have to say my eyes saw the exact opposite. I saw a guy who was slow to react, lacked explosiveness, always seemed to be a step slow to the ball, only got tackles if guys ran right into him.

#47 derek245583

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:51 PM

Jene What is the outlook for Sean Weatherspoon now? Is he gonna drop?

I am marginal at sports betting and get hot sometimes


#48 Jene Bramel

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 07:22 AM

Gene, what's your personal take on Perry Riley? Are his numbers down the stretch last season what we should expect to see this year from him? Is he a 3-down LB? Is Fletcher back, and does his value go up when/if Fletcher is gone?

I've always been a Riley supporter and was pretty disappointed when McIntosh was re-signed last summer and then Keyaron Fox got an early look in the base and subpackages with injuries early last year -- enough to cut him in a league or two and take him off my priority watch list. Excited to see him break out. I'd think that the Redskins would like Fletcher back. That shouldn't affect Riley too much. Riley had an every-down role alongside Fletcher over the last few games of 2011. Those guys are both in the LB2 tier for me -- barring a major FA shakeup -- with Riley a higher ceiling, higher variance player than Fletcher. I push Fletcher every year at least a tier over consensus, but we're (finally) starting to see signs of durability worries. I don't think we'll see a Tatupu/Crowder/Peterson like flame-out, but we might see his career slip as Farrior and Brackett have over a 1-3 year period. If Fletcher (and/or Landry) is gone, Riley's upside could be affected in either direction depending on how strong those replacements are.

#49 Jene Bramel

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 07:26 AM

Jene What is the outlook for Sean Weatherspoon now? Is he gonna drop?

I've been out of the loop this weekend, so I may have missed something, but I haven't seen anything to suggest that Weatherspoon will see a major change in role. I'm not worried about Mike Nolan -- if anything, any transition toward Nolan's preferred scheme would help Weatherspooon. I'm always a little leery of projecting a ceiling for 4-3 WLB (Greenway, Briggs, etc). Putting him as the WILB in a 1-gap 3-4 would push me toward a more stable statistical projection. Akeem Dent would be a slightly different style of MLB/ILB than Lofton, but that switch would likely be more in Weatherspoon's favor than not.

#50 BearsFan

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:07 PM

Jene What is the outlook for Sean Weatherspoon now? Is he gonna drop?

I've been out of the loop this weekend, so I may have missed something, but I haven't seen anything to suggest that Weatherspoon will see a major change in role. I'm not worried about Mike Nolan -- if anything, any transition toward Nolan's preferred scheme would help Weatherspooon. I'm always a little leery of projecting a ceiling for 4-3 WLB (Greenway, Briggs, etc). Putting him as the WILB in a 1-gap 3-4 would push me toward a more stable statistical projection. Akeem Dent would be a slightly different style of MLB/ILB than Lofton, but that switch would likely be more in Weatherspoon's favor than not.

Jene, what do you think of Dent and what tier would you have him in? How's the MLB situation in ATL going to play out? I think Lofton would be looking for a 3-down role and a contract reflective of that. ATL probably won't pay him what he'd be looking for.




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