Projection of Lions current 53-man roster
Starters – Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes
Reservations – Chris Board, Josh Woods, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jarrad Davis
The move to a 4-man front, in the world of defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, means only two linebackers will be on the field for the vast majority of reps and shots. They’ll just play one more LB than they play three, based on Saints usage patterns and similar patterns.
This makes the current roaster overload at the position difficult to sort out. Davis’ signing brings the LB count to nine, a number that also includes a freshly signed board. In fact, the Lions have signed five of the six listed above this same offseason, with Barnes – last year’s rookie – the sole exception.
Expect Barnes to play one of the starting roles. Anzalone, Davis, Board and Hamilton think of sharing playing time with him. Woods has great value on special teams.
Anthony Pittman, Curtis Bolton and Tavante Beckett are currently on the outside, subject to the offseason. All are capable of stepping up and claiming a place, especially in the special teams. It’s also entirely possible that the team will opt to keep just five LBs on the 53-man roster.
Given the importance the Lions have placed on signing so many of these players this offseason, it’s easy to conclude that they aren’t in the market to draft LBs of consequence. But it’s a very strong off-ball LB draft class and tapping into it still makes a lot of sense.