Re: Our Linebackers and Defense this year.
I really don't see the strength widely touted at linebacker and spur. I'm hoping it will develop. I don't like bashing players (except for the yelling I did at my TV last year). At middle LB last year, I saw very bad diagnosing skills, too many bites on misdirection, and woeful pass coverage. I think we have a lack of stopping power at MLB, WLB and spur. Making tackles several yards downfield is a problem against power running teams. Poor pursuit downfield led to several big gainers and cost us the Tennessee game. Our highly-rated rising-soph wil linebacker has tons of football talent, but arm tackles a lot. A couple of our linebackers looked lost in short pass coverage last year even past the 8th game. I'm hoping to see a pickup in size and hitting ability matching the potential these players have.
On the DL, we likely have a bevvy of really good DT's and some questions at DE, especially with losing the disruptiveness Clowney brought. Last year, teams basically abandoned dropback passing in favor of 2 step stuff. They mostly attacked one side. This year, I think we have DL quality by depth with no stars and players going hard every play knowing they won't be playing 80 reps and with a big rotation at DT and special packages at DE. 3-4 will likely be mixed-in as appropriate if the team gets it mastered.
Corner worries me if we can't get pressure up front. We seem stronger at safety, and I think have some ball-hawks there. I think our linebackers and spurs might be able to turn in some opportunistic ints to help out as well.
J Thomas and D Johnson are a couple of DE's I'm hoping will shore up our edge-sealing. If they can pass rush well, I think we will have a few less headaches (and cuss sessions). Dixon 44 played solidly last year, and seems to have the desire and drive to get better. English has great promise that I hope gets fulfilled. Let's hope our tweeners fill the lack of size with heart and ill intent. Can't wait to see how fall camp opens.