I see all these position profiles flying around the site, and I wanted to get in on the fun. So I'm picking a position that, depending on your own feelings, is either set, or in trouble. I'll take a look at who we have, who's available in free agency, and who could be picked up via the Draft. I'll also look at both sides of the Joey Porter Trade Idea that's been circulating around here for a couple weeks.
First, let's take a look at what we already have. The starting OLB's were Joey Porter and Matt Roth. Charlie Anderson also played a pretty big role as a rotation guy. Quentin Moses didn't see much action as a reserve. Then there's the two special teamers, William Kershaw and Erik Walden. Kershaw will be going into his 3rd year, and Walden his 2nd. So here's a quick look at their production from the '08 season.
- Joey Porter - 47 tackles, 17.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles.
- Matt Roth - 53 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.
- Charlie Anderson - 27 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.
- Quentin Moses - 3 tackles.
- William Kershaw - 2 tackles, 1 forced fumble.
- Erik Walden - 5 tackles.
Porter and Roth played just about every snap at the OLB spots last season, and they did a solid job overall. Roth was good in the run game, but lacked any kind of consistent pass rush and didn't look very comfortable in coverage, which should be expected from a converted DE. Porter was spectacular early in the season rushing the quarterback, but after the 49ers game, when he closed the game out with a sack, he didn't get to the QB again. He hit a wall and looked like he didn't have the same explosiveness that he exhibited in the beginning of the year. Overall Grade - B
Now for the Free Agents. There are a few enticing options that may hit the market, and as of right now don't have contracts signed. We could upgrade the position instantly by bringing in one of these guys and sticking them in the rotation.
- Terrell Suggs, BAL - 26 y/o, 68 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, 2 TD's. Chance of getting him: 20%
- Julius Peppers, CAR - 29 y/o, 51 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles. Chance of getting him: 10%
- Karlos Dansby, ARI - 27 y/o, 115 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions. Chance of getting him: 35%
- Bart Scott, BAL - 28 y/o, 82 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles. Chance of getting him: 25%
Dansby and Scott both played ILB this season, but both possess the ability to make the move to the outside, as well as bounce back and forth when needed. Peppers is a 4-3 end with the physical ability to stand up and play the OLB position in a 3-4. Suggs is the best of the 4, but will likely be one of the most expensive, and may end up being franchised by the Ravens. Peppers can get more money as a DE, and will either be franchised, or cash in bigtime as an End. I don't think we can afford to bring him in. Of the two remaining, I think Dansby is the most attractive option, because he's a year younger, and will come cheaper than Scott. Although we saw how a relative unknown in Calvin Pace got a huge payday last offseason. It's more than likely we don't end up with any of these guys, but I think we should definitely make a run at Dansby if he hits the market.
As for the draft, I think this is the place where we will find our next Stud OLB. There should be a few guys available when our first rounder comes up, at pick 25, and we would also have the opportunity to nab a guy later in the draft. I'll start with the first rounders.
- Brian Orakpo, Texas - 6'3, 255. Played DE in college, but should have no problems standing up in a 3-4 set. He's an explosive athlete off the edge, but probably won't make it all the way to pick 25.
- Aaron Maybin, Penn St. - 6'3, 250. Similar to Orakpo in size and speed, but probably projects to a better LB prospect than the big guy from Texas. He's been mock drafted as high as 10, but could drop into the lower third of the first round.
- Aaron Curry, Wake Forest - 6'1 247. One of the top rated LB's in the draft, right up there with Mauluga from USC. Most likely won't be available to us.
- Brian Cushing, USC - 6'2, 253. He's the guy many people want to see here. Could be the most NFL ready OLB in the draft, and is probably one of the only guys that will almost assuredly be around when we pick. He's a beast, who was overshadowed by some of the other talent on that USC defense. This guy is the most likely of anybody in this column to end up with the Dolphins, in my opinion.
- Other 1st Round players - Clint Sintim, VA; Sean Witherspoon, Mizzou; Everette Brown, FSU.
In Round 2, there will still be talented OLB's available.
- Jerry Hughes, TCU - 6'2 245. Another DE that projects well as a 3-4 OLB. He was named on 7 All-American teams last season, and won the Mountain West Conference's Defensive POY award. If he's available in the second round, and we haven't taken an OLB yet, this guy should be the pick.
- Marcus Freeman, Ohio St. - 6'1 240. Almost a physical clone of Joey Porter, but not quite as strong. He's played the OLB in a 4-3, but his skillset fits the 3-4 because of his quickness and knack for stopping the run. I think he'll drop because the buzz seems to be off the OSU guys lately. That could change leading up to the draft, but for now I have him pegged somewhere in the second round. Could be a steal with our final pick of the day.
- Connor Barwin, Cincy - 6'4 255. Yet another D-end that could turn LB (seems like quite a few this year). Ranked right in the 40-60 range, so he should be a solid 2nd round pick, and possibly a steal in the third.
I have a sleeper guy for Day 2 as well.
- Orion Martin, VATech - 6'2, 253. Senior that was lauded for his quiet consistency at Virginia Tech. He's the type of kid that Parcells loves, never misses practice, always shows up to meetings, and lets his play do all the talking for him. He should be available late in the draft, and I think we should take a chance on him. He's got a solid work ethic and would have no problem at all playing Special Teams, as Coach Beamer is notorious for his special teams.
So there's a lot of options for us to pursue at the OLB position this offseason, and I have to believe that Parcells will address it at some point. There's also the prospect of trading Joey Porter while his value is at its highest. It's only an idea that's been kicked around here for a couple weeks, and there is no actual speculation from the team or the big media outlets that it could happen, but it's a good debate and both sides can make a good argument. I'm on the side that believes we can get a pretty good haul, at least a 2nd rounder and another pick, possibly 2 2nd's. But that's something we'll be able to discuss for a while because there's no indication it's even being mulled over by our Front Office at this point.