|05-25-2007, 12:27 AM||#1|
Chiefs > Broncos
Join Date: Apr 2004
Sporting News ranks the LB corps in the AFC
AFC focus: All raves for Ravens linebackers
Posted: May 24, 2007
Sporting News' AFC correspondents shift their focus to the top units of linebackers in the conference:
1. Ravens. Ray Lewis and Bart Scott communicate well on the inside. Terrell Suggs always has been a force as an outside pass rusher, but now he plays the run well, too. Jarret Johnson is strong against the run.
1. Chargers. It's difficult to imagine two better outside pass rushers on the same team than Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. The inside is new, with Matt Wilhelm replacing Donnie Edwards and Stephen Cooper taking over for Randall Godfrey.
3. Dolphins. Joey Porter is a big addition on the outside, but the unit's strongest spot is the middle, where Zach Thomas continues to play at a Pro Bowl level. With Channing Crowder developing on the weak side, this group could be a huge difference-maker in the team's success.
4. Patriots. Adding Adalius Thomas to a mix that includes the cerebral Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel in the middle, as well as solid pass rusher Rosevelt Colvin, makes the starting four formidable. The expected return of Junior Seau will provide badly needed depth.
5. Chiefs. Derrick Johnson, Donnie Edwards and middle linebacker Napoleon Harris fit well in the cover 2. Kendrell Bell is the top backup and will have a role as a rusher in passing situations.
6. Broncos. D.J. Williams must prove he can be instinctive in the middle. Ian Gold may be the fastest outside linebacker in the league. Warrick Holdman, the other likely starter, isn't a star but always is around the ball.
7. Jaguars. Mike Peterson is one of the league's top five middle linebackers. Outside starters Clint Ingram and Daryl Smith are young but proven.
8. Titans. Keith Bulluck and David Thornton tackle well and can match up against running backs and tight ends in coverage. Stephen Tulloch is battling Ryan Fowler to start in the middle.
9. Texans. The team upgraded in the offseason by acquiring Danny Clark and Shawn Barber. They will compete with Shantee Orr on the outside. In the middle, DeMeco Ryans is the defense's unquestioned leader.
10. Raiders. Kirk Morrison anchors the middle. Thomas Howard made an immediate impact as a rookie. Injury-prone Sam Williams still is trying to settle into a comfort zone.
11. Steelers. Clark Haggans is solid on the left side, but James Harrison must fill Joey Porter's shoes on the right. On the inside, James Farrior is the team's best linebacker, and Larry Foote plays well when he has a good supporting cast.
12. Jets. They are set on the outside with Bryan Thomas and Victor Hobson. On the inside, undersized Jonathan Vilma has struggled in the 3-4, and Eric Barton will be challenged by second-round pick David Harris.
13. Browns. Kamerion Wimbley and D'Qwell Jackson more than lived up to expectations as rookie starters. Willie McGinest is slipping, but he'll join Wimbley and Antwan Peek in a rotation on the outside. Andra Davis will start alongside Jackson in the middle.
14. Bengals. If newcomer Ed Hartwell can stay healthy, he will take on a leadership role for middleman Ahmad Brooks and Rashad Jeanty. This unit has talent but lacks experience playing together.
15. Colts. Gary Brackett returns as the inside starter, and Rob Morris likely will open camp as the strongside starter. The rest of the cast is unproven. Freddy Keiaho is the leading candidate to replace Cato June on the weak side.
16. Bills. Angelo Crowell, Keith Ellison and rookie Paul Posluszny fit well in the team's cover 2 because they run well and attack the line of scrimmage. Still, there is no star here.
|05-25-2007, 12:50 AM||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Florence, Colorado
All of them.
Thats not too far off. Going to be interesting to see how our defense meshes early.
|05-25-2007, 02:08 AM||#5|
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: America's Finest City
Shaun Phillips put up Pro-Bowl type numbers last year. He and Merriman are arguably the best past rushing duo in the league right now.
The ILBs in the Charger's 3-4 don't need to be playmaking studs like the OLB's. Godfrey was a run-stuffer and Edwards was more of a coverage LB. But Wilhelm and Cooper have gotten significant play time over the past few years and the dropoff hasn't been noticeable. I think we'll be fine with a little less experience and more youth and speed.
I think the Chargers are ranked about right. The only two teams that you could argue taking their spot is Miami or New England.