This season, Washington has surprising depth at some positions (wide receiver and defensive back), and pretty mediocre-to-poor depth at a couple of others, including linebacker. This article will take a quick glance at several teams with linebacking strength going into the 2023 season, to see if there might be diamonds in the rough that those teams could cut, and Washington could pounce on over the next several days.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have two of the best linebackers in the league on their team. By several accounts, Fred Warner is the best LB in the NFL, with Dre Greenlaw not too far behind him. Surely, both are assisted by San Francisco’s excellent defensive line, but that should be the case in DC as well.
According to Niners Nation, the 49ers are likely to carry five LBs, including:
- Fred Warner
- Dre Greenlaw
- Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
- Oren Burks
- Marcelino McCrary-Ball
That actually means they could be in a position to cut two intriguing linebacking prospects over the next few days.
The 5’ 11” 227 lbs linebacker participated in the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine where he ran a 4.49 second 40-yard dash and 30.5” vertical jump. He was a standout defensive leader, named a Captain and taking on the “quarterback of the defense” role in 2023. He showed great instincts attacking the run paired with pass rushing skills and coverage ability to be a force on every snap.
Dee Winters is going to fit right in with the 49ers pic.twitter.com/DZBrsqYLqo— Brad (@Graham_SFN) April 29, 2023
Jalen Graham is another Day 3, 2023 draft pick, taken out of Purdue, who has performed well for the Niners this preseason. After their win against the preseason earlier this month, he was praised by defensive coordinator Steve Wilks:
Middle linebacker [LB] Jalen [Graham] continued to stand out for us. He’s doing a great job playing the MIKE, great job communicating, getting everybody aligned. The physicality continued to show up each and every week playing downhill.
Rookie LB Jalen Graham sure can hit… Sheeesh pic.twitter.com/OVQM2H0zsn— Coach Yac (@Coach_Yac) August 20, 2023
I would prioritize poaching either of these guys if San Francisco cuts them. With Cody Barton on a one-year deal, and David Mayo currently holding down the LB4 spot, the need is serious for some additional LB depth.
Just behind the 49ers linebacking corps is the Bears. Chicago grabbed two high-priced free agents this offseason: Tremaine Edmunds from Buffalo and TJ Edwards from Philadelphia and immediately, massively, upgraded their linebacking room.
According to Windy City Gridiron, the Bears are likely to carry the following six linebackers this year:
- Tremaine Edmunds
- TJ Edwards
- Jack Sanborn
- Noah Sewell
- Dylan Cole
- Mykal Walker
That means that Micah Baskerville, an undrafted free agent out of LSU, is likely to be cut as the roster is pared down. Of his pre-season, the writers at Windy City Gridiron called him out as one of four Bears with a “sneaky good pre-season.”
Amidst the rapid turnover at linebacker around him this preseason, Baskerville has managed to put together some nice outings for himself.
Through two games, he has 9 total tackles, a sack and a pass deflection, and one could argue there was a play he had in coverage against Indianapolis that should have been counted in the official stat sheet as a deflection, too. He’s looked quick-twitched and fluid at the second level, which was a calling card of his at LSU. The undrafted rookie faces a steep hill to climb if he is to make the team with Chicago’s loaded linebacker group, but a practice squad opportunity seems like a no-brainer for him.
Check out #Bears UDFA Micah Baskerville nearly creating an INT with quick recognition and aggression -- playing the deep zone in Tampa 2, Baskerville does a great job managing space off LOS and undercutting his WR beautifully.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 21, 2023
Has he been doing this in camp? This is sweet pic.twitter.com/4aci0Rz9Iy
He can cover the middle of the field, so he’s an immediate upgrade on the lethargic Mayo. Plus, once the team name changes, we can call him the Hound of the Baskerville.
The Bengals have two very good linebackers, Jermaine Pratt and Logan Wilson, and excellent depth at the position as well. According to Cincy Jungle, the Bengals are likely to keep five linebackers, comprised of the group below:
- Jermaine Pratt
- Logan Wilson
- Akeem Davis-Gaither
- Joe Bachie
- Markus Bailey
That means undrafted free agent out of Alabama, Jaylen Moody, is unlikely to stick on Chicago’s 53-man roster. Moody, a weak-side linebacker who primarily played special teams in Tuscaloosa, had an injury-plagued senior season:
In 2022, Moody played in 10 games with eight starts for the Crimson Tide. He tallied 50 tackles, including eight tackles for loss, two sacks, one quarterback hurry, and a fumble recovery while battling injuries.
Sports Illustrated:— Shark Sports Management (@ManagementShark) July 29, 2023
Jaylen Moody was the type of player that Alabama loves to advertise: a player who trusted the process, and became a contributor for the Crimson ...https://t.co/bQozc01uU2
As a developmental option, Moody could be an interesting add to the practice squad.
There will be a massive number of NFL cuts coming over the next several days, and this is where pro scouts earn much of their keep. A closer examination of some of the better linebacking groups could provide insight into areas where Washington could improve the back end of its roster.
I’m curious to hear what you think about these options.
Which of these players would you prioritize pursuing?
This poll is closed
None of these.