Quick, name the best middle linebackers in the NFL today.
Patrick Willis! Luke Kuechly. James Laurinaitis?
This is not your father’s NFL.
Gone are the household names of yesteryear. Gone are the any-down blitzers that wreaked havoc and
terrified opposing quarterbacks.
Dick Butkus, Jack Lambert, Ray Lewis, to name a few.
The middle linebacker of today is more of an all-around athlete, able to drop into pass coverage, shed blockers, and wrap up the ball-carrier.
The 2014 Denver Broncos have reinforced their defense. They have added pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware. They brought in safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib to shore up the defensive backfield.
Yet, with both Wesley Woodyard and Paris Lenon leaving via free agency, the Broncos didn’t exactly jump at the chance to hire a replacement.
Sure, they brought in free agent D’Qwell Jackson, and even took a look at drafting C.J. Mosely the inside linebacker out of Alabama, but nothing came of either.
The fact is head coach John Fox and company feel that they can plug in someone else and maintain.
That someone else looks to be four-year veteran Nate Irving. Irving has primarily only been contributing on special teams so far in his career.
Or maybe it ends up being rookie fifth round draft pick Lamin Barrow.
Either way, the Broncos don’t seem to be worried. And that seems to be pretty standard in today’s NFL.
Like this? Click here to read about the position battles on the defensive line.