Camp Preview – LB: Can rookie Kirksey start for the Browns?

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The linebacking corps of the 2014 Cleveland Browns is mostly set. According to the depth chart, Paul Kruger is the left outside linebacker, and Jabaal Sheard has the right side. Both of them have those positions nailed down, and it is their job to lose. Moving inside, free agent acquisition Karlos Dansby will undoubtedly be the starting right inside linebacker.

The only position that may still have significant competition is the LILB. Currently, Craig Robertson holds the starting role on the depth chart. However, after a very underwhelming 2013, he needs to watch out for the new guy in Christian Kirksey. The rookie already has a slight advantage in that GM Ray Farmer liked him enough to take him early in the 3rd round of the 2014 Draft – way ahead of his 4th-5th round projection.

Another factor that favors Kirksey is the proficient passing offenses of today’s NFL. Robertson is fairly stout against the run, but if last year’s game film was any indicator, he was HORRID in pass protection. Kirksey is a fast, undersized middle linebacker, and while that may not fit the traditional image, the truth of it is that he is more suited in the pass-happy NFL. In fact, one might argue that Kirksey is the perfect complement to the bruiser that Is Dansby.

Maybe Farmer knew what he was doing when he made the extraordinarily unpopular Kirksey pick. Whether or not he shakes out, don’t be surprised if the rookie starts over Robertson.

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