- Derrick Morgan (OLB/DE), Zach Brown (ILB), Wesley Woodyard (ILB), Akeem Ayers (OLB)
Kamerion Wimbley (OLB/DE), Zaviar Gooden (ILB), Colin McCarthy (ILB), Shaun Phillips (OLB)
- James Gayle (OLB), Moises Fokou (ILB), Avery Williamson (ILB), Jamal Merrell (OLB)
There are a lot of questions to be answered about the linebacker corps this offseason, like who will start at either outside linebacker position.
The team failed to add anyone of significance via the draft to serve as a rush linebacker. The team signed Gayle and Merrell to help provide some extra bodies at the position, but neither is likely to play a big role in the upcoming season.
Wimbley, Ayers and Phillips all appear versatile enough to play either side of the position group, while Morgan seems like a lock to play the "Leo" position.
The position is a bit of a 'tweener of linebacker and defensive end that can both contain and rush the passer. Lavar Edwards is also a candidate to provide depth at the position.
At "Sam," the ability to stop the run and perform well in coverage become more important. Ayers already has experience doing both and seems to be a good fit to start there.
On the inside the duties are very similar, however, the team seems to be loaded with linebackers who are mostly suited for "Will" rather than "Mike" linebacker.
Woodyard, Brown and Gooden are all prototypical "Will" linebackers. Despite appearances, the team seems to believe Woodyard can play "Mike" with Brown playing the other side.
Williamson should compete for a role as a "Mike" as well. Director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield had a lot to say about the team's fifth-round pick:
“He’s got great intangibles. He’s a leadership-type player, he’s been a special teams player, he’s an inside backer,” Beddingfield said. “Like Coach said, he can probably play multiple positions as well as special teams. This is a kid that’s been productive on a high level of football versus very good competition. (He) played injured a little bit this year and played through it and was very tough. This is a kid that’s got a lot going for him.”
Shaun Phillips should be able to rotate in at outside linebacker if he does not win a starting job over the offseason. The team is banking on his addition and the scheme change to improve its pass rush.