It is no secret that we have high expectations for our young group of LB's But being the realist that I am, I am left wondering..well, what is realistic? so, I will lay out what my expectations are for our LB's.
Lets begin with the projected starters:
Joey Porter- I agree he is not the LB he once was but I still think he is one of the top players at his position in the league. he is an outstanding pass rusher, and will bring a new sense of pride, toughness and swagger to our D. I think that there is plenty more behind the scene stuff he will also do to improve the cards immediately and for the long term. Porter is known as a great team influence (when in the right situation, and he is in the right situation with whiz and lots of minutes). Also, because i believe he is in the right situation, we will see some joey porter clones in the near future from guys like Davis, Brown and O'schofield...which is a very good thing.
Haggans - Again, on the downside of a great career. But, he is a solid, smart player who is very well rounded and an excellent leader. He and Porter will thrive together again like they did in college and for the steelers. Clark is another great mentor and his impact on our LB's will still be felt after he retires.
Hayes- Hopefully his back will be ready. we need him. A good run stuffer, that's about it. But he is reliable and consistent with is great praise for any pro athlete. I stated earlier that I thought he would break 100 tackles this year and if he stays healthy I believe he will do that.
Lenon- A bit of a question mark but I like the guy. Of course no one coming from the Rams is going to make headlines. he was undrafted out of richmond and has been a career overachiever, which speaks to his character. also, he is only 1 year removed from back to back 100 tackle seasons. Is he a downgrade from dansby: yes, could we do worse: yes!
Onto the young guns:
Brown- he is going into his second rookie season, hoefully he can stay healthy. He was one of the cards draft picks that I did not like in recent history. I would have preferred Micheal Johnson over Brown, but in Whiz we trust. Thus, I was waiting for him to give me a reason to like him last and all he did was get hurt. I hope he turns out to be worth the 2nd rounder, but right now I like Davis much better. * Cody, if you read this, I really want to like you, so please give me reason to*
Davis- love this guy. Seems like a great kid. Has nice speed of the edge and a high ceiling. With some tutelage from Porter, he could turn into a beast. some of the best pass rushers in the were selected after the 3rd round. (jared allen, mathis, dumervil..just saying).
Washington- I was so pumped when we moved up to get this guy. I love fast athletic linebackers. I know we will bring him along slow, but I think this guy has huge potential. He is intelligent, fast, good character and oh, did I mention he was fast. We need some youth and speed in the middle and he will bring that. I think his ability to cover tight ends will allow Billy Davis to get creative as well as allowing him to bring A-dub with pressure to destroy some more helpless QB's (see: trent edwards. Side note: A-Dub ruined edwards career with that hit, similar to how Baron Davis ended O'neal and AK-47 with 2 nasty dunks. youtube them.)
O'Schoefield- again stoked on getting this guy in the fourth round. With modern medicine his knee will be stronger when he is done rehab and the whole league will realize that they should not have let him slip all the way to the 4th round. He is one of the top 5 rushers out of this years draft and we got him late in the 4th. look for him to have a 2nd year similar to Campbell in which he will get like 8-12 sacks.
I am really excited about the potential of our LB's, but I still temper that with the reality that these young guys are yet to pan out. I think our special teams will benefit from all these young LB's, but it will take some time until they start to make in game contributions. If O'scho is on the IR, should we consider pursuing a guy like Antonio Pierce with a one year contract?