Finding the next Linebackers

This is the dead zone. The part of the off-season where nothing, and I mean nothing, happens.

Players have participated in OTAs and practices. The new guys have gotten a taste of the playbook. Coaches have started learning some names. And then a month off. The last vacation before training camp and preseason.

I sat back and thought about what I truly wanted to see when the players returned. Ndamukong Suh? No I know what to expect. Ryan Tannehill working with his brand new receiving corps? Tempting but not at the tope of my list. No it was the linebackers. The linebacking corps is the biggest question for me.

Two spots are taken. Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins will clearly be starting when the season arrives. The question is who will join them and who will man the middle. That is a question that has been unanswered for far too long.

There are a lot of names: Chris McCain, Jordan Tripp, Kelvin Sheppard, Spenser Paysinger are the veterans. They are joined my undrafted rookies Neville Hewitt, Mike Hull, Jeff Luc and Zach Vigil. Eight players for perhaps five spots.

This is where it gets interesting. It is fun to see who rises to the top. I feel confident that McCain and Tripp will be there at the end but who else makes it. Some may assume Sheppard and Paysinger have the advantage being veterans but the rookies were all expected to be late round draft picks. Mike Hull and Zach Vigil in particular were projected to be drafted as early as the fourth round. Either player could conceivably compete for the middle linebacker spot within two years.

The question may come to experience versus potential. That is what defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle will have to decide. That is what training camp is for. Time to see the cream rise to the top.