Will be interesting to see if Jack Campbell can buck the trend in Detroit

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Jun 28Liked by Seaside Joe

The LB and RB problems are really very different in my eyes. RB, it's become ever more of a pass first league. Therefore you only need "competent" play at RB to be a successful team as your QB and receivers are fare more important (see the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals). Ok yes if you can get a strong run game going it will help, but you still need that passing game to carry you most of the way (see Eagles, 49ers, Buccs under Brady). Therefore as a GM, why pay your RB a top end contract when that money could be sent on a more impactful player at another position on offence?

LB is different, and we are seeing, slowly, defences moving away from LB as a position - as we have seen the FB become a position of the past. The drive in the modern NFL is pass rush, get at that QB and don't let them throw. The games best LB's have often been excellent rushers, identifying the gaps created by their DLine and punching in to wreck the play. Modern LBs are now deployed ever more on the front foot as a 4th/5th rusher to get after the QB, or stuff what run there is nice and early. OR they are dropped deep into the box to hold up against slants/crosses and various other short/mid field pass plays. In essence operating as a high press DB to again take away the passing game. So as a LB you are either now really Edge or DB. The "true" MLB is less important, in no small part due to the shift to a pass-first league.

Does this mean LB's arn't getting payed? Arn't getting drafted? Arn't being successful? No, they are just shuffling to other spots on the field and being measured in different ways. In fact the 'Hawks are taking this concept up a notch. Nuwosu as an OLB is most used to put pressure towards the offence on the front foot. Hall, Mafe, Smith, Taylor all fall into this range of Edge/OLB who's role is to get after the backfield and so often we as fans, and pundits, will just call them Edge's or DE's as much as OLB's. Wagner, Bush, Brooks are all more traditional MLB's, but in this 'Hawks D that will entail them to play one or two steps behind the DLine and spy the gaps to fill. Not about standing off, not about zone coverage of the mid-field, their role is to disrupt and stuff the backfield as the gaps open (or last season, watching Barton trying to plug the flood of rushing yards being given up). In the new 6DB sets that high press coverage would come from a Adams-esque player, easily it could be Witherspoon, who are tasked to step up, disrupt and tackle any cross reception, and if the field is clear inside the numbers just add another body towards the line.

LB's are changing and being rolled into other primary focuses (would anyone really call Parsons a MLB in the traditional sense? Or an underrated stand out like Matt Milano who's far more stood back an additional step and sweeps like a Safety) and being payed accordingly to those new roles. If you can't pass rush or play coverage, yes you're in trouble as a LB in the same way a non-receiving/blocking RB is in trouble. But as we won't see the RB be fully eliminated, we won't see the LB become extinct either. No matter how good a receiving-RB you are, if you're not a WR first you are facing a tough future. Traditional LBs first, and solid rushers/coverages second will still be needed and wanted.

(Wider question, how long before we see the NFL really just become a bigger outdoor ARL that's all about explosive tricks and wide open offence only games?)

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There are many things to say, but foremost is that perhaps the league isn’t doing a great job of evaluating the desired qualities for an nfl linebacker.

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There was a tweet recently from PFF (or maybe it was CBS Sports, both do rankings all the time) with a list of the top linebackers in the league right now. Bobby Wagner was #3. If I recall, he was right behind Fred Warner and Roquan Smith. My first reaction was that Bobby has lost a couple of steps and is either getting by on reputation, or there just aren't many great LBs in the league today. Looking at the rest of the list, I was not "whelmed." There were some fine players, like Dre Greenlaw and Matt Milano, but nobody beyond Warner that I thought of as close to a star. In addition to the position being undervalued, are we simply in a time where the greats are aging out and there are few up and coming All-Pro level guys at the position? Just a theory on my part that may have no substance.

Happy 33rd birthday to Bobby, by the way!

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... gap assignments, sorry I got spell checked

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Joe Thank You for introducing me to Portlandia, that was hilarious. I never thought about the linebacker situation. Thinking about it, Seattle is not worried about the position, mostly because if Adams is healthy, the Hawks will play with 3 safeties. If there is one safety in the league that could Excell at this, it's a healthy Jamal Adams. Adams will not or should not have gap alignments, he is not big enough. What he should be doing is scraping down the line of scrimmage stiring up poo poo.

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Jun 27·edited Jun 27

Dadgummit, now you're making me think again.

Not my strong suit. We've had that conversation before.

Maybe the root problem you're trying to address is really the structure of the draft itself. Specifically, the rate at which the contract guarantees fall off down the draft order, which makes early picks such a high risk proposition.

I think the whole concept is a gamble, anyway, because the up-selection is so severe between college and the NFL (NFL collects a MUCH higher capability into a MUCH smaller venue). No matter what the position is, the relatively easy opposition in college might not (probably is not) good enough to really expose weaknesses. It also magnifies relative strengths. I'm thinking (look out!) that this is probably even more true in the mental aspects of the game.

In my own (non-athletic) profession, even an internship isn't always enough to expose how a candidate new hire will react to crap when it comes along (which it will). At 22, 23, 24 years of age, the prefrontal cortex simply isn't done baking yet for most of those kids. (Some of them it is getting close, but not most of them.) That alone makes hiring at that age a crap shoot. I'd bet that is probably true for football players, too.

Maybe the rightmost way to fix that problem is to smear the cash more gradually between the first and last pick. That would make the selection of RB or LB early less of a (relative) risk.


I mentioned using the concept of insurance in the RB context a few days ago. Insurance, by definition, is just a gamble; that is, a practical application of risk management. I can't tell (at the moment) whether I might be on to something, or just circling the drain. Regrettably, it is possible for both to be true.

Another aside:

NO! I was not just sitting here waiting for you to post!

Well...OK, a little bit, but not mostly.

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