Pat Kirwan has an excellent article on this here:
Here is a preview:
The NFL Combine begins Wednesday, and as usual the conversation centers around the the quarterback. The signal caller on the other side of the ball, better known as the middle linebacker, is facing a mini crisis at the position.
People can continue to predict the demise of the middle linebacker in the modern game all they want, but the Super Bowl had middle linebackers named Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis. That should tell you something about the type of players that lead teams. Whether it is the Mike backer in a 4-3 defense or the inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense, teams need dynamic players to man the middle. The more I look at the state of affairs at the 'defensive quarterback' position the more I realize there are problems on the horizon for NFL teams.
Ray Lewis retired right after the Super Bowl. Brian Urlacher is close to the end of his career and has said he would take a pay cut to stay with the Bears, but the club hasn't jump at his offer. The Redskins aren't sure London Fletcher can return for his 16th season as a middle linebacker and how long can Takeo Spikes go on for the Chargers?
Michael Boley, Bart Scott, and Nick Barnett have already been released before the start of free agency, creating voids at those teams. Jonathan Vilma and Demeco Ryans once played for teams that switched to 3-4 defenses. Those teams -- the Jets and Texans respectively, didn't think they were great fits in the new scheme, so they let them go. Once again they find themselves on teams switching to 3-4 defenses and it remains to be seen if they can play in the defense.
I talked with Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga this week, who's future in Cincinnati is up in the air. He's a free agent and his anxiety about the situation was obvious. The Raiders have to get rid of Rolando McClain sooner or later with his off-the-field issues and his liability in coverage. The Broncos, Chiefs, Vikings, Giants and Steelers all have to find middle linebackers in this draft or settle for someone in free agency. Add it all up and more than half the NFL may need a middle linebacker. The point is, more teams need middle linebackers than the draft pool can provide.
I think he makes excellent points here. Read the whole thing on their site to finish it.