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Packers by Position Offseason Preview: Outside Linebackers

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Packers by Position Offseason Preview: Outside Linebackers

Over the course of the next several days Cheesehead TV will have a brief position-by-position offseason preview, taking a look at what's in store for the Green Bay Packers in free agency and the NFL Draft..

Overview

This past offseason, the Packers made Clay Matthews the highest-paid linebacker in football but unfortunately Matthews missed six full games (including playoffs) and parts of three others due to injury.

After missing only one game due to injury the first three years of his career, Matthews has now missed 10 full games the past two season combined, frequently leaving the Packers without their best defensive player.

When healthy, Matthews can be a dominant force on the football field, as evidenced by his team-leading 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles despite all the time he missed.

For a change, Mike Neal played 16 games for the first time in his career and actually led the outside linebackers in total snaps played. He fought through an abdomen issue all season long and actually had to exit the Packers' playoff game, although the injury is reportedly not serious.

Neal's transition to outside linebacker and significant weight loss to play the position has been admirable. He led the team with 37 quarterback hurries (according to ProFootballFocus.com), but as a naturally big-bodied player, he still has issues playing in space.

The same can be said of Nick Perry, another defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid. Perry appeared to be coming on early in the season before a broken bone in his foot, compounded by a sprained ankle, made him far less effective down the stretch.

Now Neal is set to become a free agent and his future with the Packers is in question. The constants at the position are Matthews and Perry, but they need to stay healthy if the Packers are going to see major improvements on defense.

The addition of Andy Mulumba as an undrafted free agent was a nice development in Green Bay, and he appeared to make progress as the season went on.

Nate Palmer had a nondescript rookie season and has a lot of room to improve if he hopes to make the team again in 2014.

 

Long-Range Free Agency Outlook

Mike Neal––While Neal received occasional playing time as an interior pass rusher in 2013, he appears to have found his calling as a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid.

His stock might be his highest ever after staying largely healthy in 2013 and having a productive season, perhaps enough to generate significant interest on the free-agent market.

As a former second round draft choice, there will be teams looking to add Neal to their roster. The question is, "For how much?"

If former Packers outside linebacker Erik Walden could command a contract worth four million dollars annually in free agency, such as he did last year, Neal should be able to find a similar deal, if not more.

The Packers may not be willing to match such an offer if bidding gets that high. They have to save money to re-sign the likes of Sam Shields, Evan Dietrich-Smith and others, as well as extend Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

 

Long-Range NFL Draft Outlook

The Packers have already invested multiple recent first round draft picks into the outside linebacker position and don't figure to do so again, at least not in 2014.

For better or worse, the Packers will be banking on the health of Matthews and Perry, no matter what may happen to Neal in free agency.

Of course, if Neal departs, the need for depth at outside linebacker may increase in Green Bay, it just won't be filled in the first round.

Ted Thompson and the rest of his scouting and personnel department are undoubtedly hard at work looking for those college defensive end/outside linebacker hybrids that are not always easy to project to the pro game.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (60) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I like the OLB's but don't love them... Mathews obviously is our best player on defense, but we desperately need him to stay healthy.

Perry, I like, and he started to come on strong until he broke his foot. He also has to stay healthy. If he could stay healthy this next year, I really think we'll see him take a major step. He will be in his 3rd year transitioning from DE to OLB.

I am really high on Mulumba. I think he has a very bright future. He needs to develop some pass rush moves but I think he could be one rookie to take a huge leap in year 2.

When Palmer played, I thought he played well... An offseason will do him really good.

I don't know if the Packers will resign Neal. If they get him back pretty cheap I think they will sign him, but if they can't he will likely be gone.

I don't think the team will draft someone high, but I could see a mid-late round pick again at the position.

The key to this position is to have a healthy year for a change.

treg's picture

Mathews is a one dimensional LB. If you look at all the packers LB numbers Mathews is a sackman and that's about it.

I like Mathews but I'm not even sure he's our best LB. Compare his stats with the other Packers.

Brian Carriveau's picture

LOL, whut?

RC Packer Fan's picture

only explanation I have is he/she is drunk? Stoned? Drunk and Stoned? or just a moron...

The only explanation I can come up with...

Morgan Mundane's picture

Hawk had more tackles than any player on the team. Period. Mathews got hurt and missed games. So in essence, the guy who produced the most this year is Hawk.
Too many people want to reverse the clock to the 2010 Mathews.

RC Packer Fan's picture

stats don't tell the whole story. ILB's in this scheme are almost always going to lead the team in tackles in this defense.

zeke's picture

Okay, I give up. Who's the best LB on the team?

MarkinMadison's picture

Sam Barrington, obviously.

murphy's picture

They should never have let Eric Walden go.

murphy's picture

I should probably have put this in sarcasm tags.

The TKstinator's picture

Woo hoo, good stuff!

GrnMachine's picture

Almost tantamount to saying aaron rodgers isn't the best player on the team. Certainly tantamount to the phrase "I'm a clueless idiot whose analytical skills in terms of pro football fall ABSURDLY short of comprehensible logic or reasoning". Yeaup, that should do it.

pooch's picture

Put in the inside were he can stunt and cover and plug holes in the running game,330 lb tackles wear him out as he continually pulls hamstrings battling the big boys

Hank Scorpio's picture

I wonder about the toll Matthews takes from battling LTs regularly, too.

I have zero doubts about Matthews' ability to handle traditional LB duties from the middle of the field. He'd be great at diagnosing and relentless in pursuit. He rarely does it now but I think he's currently the Pack's best LB in coverage. He's a good tackler and has a knack for forcing fumbles. What else is there?

Clayton's picture

Mathews is obviously the packers best defender but I have to admit that his 2010 season was by far his best. Hes a sack artist but he should not be the NFLs highest paid linebacker for several reasons. Ive been a Packer fan my whole life and I have to say that just cuz hes the best defensive player on the team I cover doesnt mean he the very best. I used to think every packers player at theyre positions were the best in the nfl and then I grew up and matured and found out they all werent. Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, JJ Watt, James Harrison, etc are all better or have had better seasons. They should all be paid more than Mattews. Harrison is out of his prime. And Mathews does not have a knack for forcing fumbles. Umenyiora has a knack but mathews has never had more than 3 ff in a season. Nick Perry also had 3 ff fumbles so I guess u have to put him In Mattews category right lol. Btw I can name more lbs than I already did that deserve more money than CM3

Stroh's picture

You don't think Matthews forces enough fumbles? Most people think Woodson was great forcing fumbles. He has 27 FF in 16 seasons. Matthews has 10 in 5 seasons. Do the math!

I don't think Matthews is the very best defensive player, but he ranks right up there w/ the best. And when his contract was coming up he got the next big payday. When the next great Defensive player comes around, he'll be the highest paid. That's just how it works.

If I had my choice between Von Miller and Matthews I'd take Matthews. I think he's a much better all around defender than Miller. Miller gets a few more sacks (maybe), but he isn't nearly as good a run defender and Matthews is very good in coverage. If you look at glamour stats sure Miller looks better, but if you look at the totality of the game of football Matthews is better.

Phatgzus's picture

Tackles are about 310, not 330, regardless the difference in weight between a T and G or C is inconsequential in terms of energy expenditure. Also, Clay Matthews doesn't get tired, period.

Stroh's picture

The majority of OT are well over 310. I would guess on average 320 maybe more.

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

give him a break guys, he's just arrived from an alternate quantum universe where CMIII only has one arm, which limits him significantly. in that particular reality, he is actually a step behind Perry. Also they play for the Appleton Parkers.

Rymetyme81's picture

LOL. Holy hell, my only conclusion is that you don't understand football Treg. CM3, pound for pound, is one of the better run-stopping OLBs in football. He is also excellent at forcing fumbles and for a LB he excels at tipping balls when he can't get to the QB.

thedon's picture

I would really like to see the packers resign Neal, in fact, I think he should be the number 3 priority after Shields and EDS, but before Raji. I think another year at OLB would see Neal as a true disruptive force.

L's picture

The priority list as I see it for Packer player signing attempts:

#1 - Trying to sign S.Shields to a 4 or 5 year contract at the right price (or franchise tag him).

#2 - Trying to extend R.Cobb's contract 4 or 5 years at the right price.

#3 - Trying to sign BJ.Raji to a 3 year contract at the right price (or franchise tag him if S.Shields is signed).

#4 - Trying to sign M.Neal to a 3 year contract at the right price.

#5 - Trying to extend J.Nelson's contract for 3 more years at the right price.

#6 - Trying to sign EDS to a 2 or 3 year contract at the right price.

#7 - Trying to sign A.Quarless to a 2 or 3 year contract at the right price or scouring the FA pool to find a replacement at a bargain cost.

#8 - Trying to sign J.Jones to a 2 or 3 year contract at the right price.

#9 - Trying to sign M.Flynn to a 2 or 3 year contract at the right price or scouring the FA pool to find a replacement at a bargain cost.

#10 - Signing J.Lattimore to a 3 year contract at the right price or possibly matching an offer on him.

#11 - Offering R.Pickett a 1 or 2 year contract around the vets minimum to return or scouring the FA pool for a possible replacement at a bargain cost.

#12 - Offering J.Kuhn to a 1 or 2 year contract around the vets minimum to return or scouring the FA pool for a possible replacement at a bargain cost.

#13 - Trying to sign J.Starks to a 2 or 3 year contract at the right price or scouring the FA pool for a replacement or developmental depth at a bargain.

#14 - Signing C.Banjo to a 2 year contract at the bare minimum cost or possibly matching an offer he receives.

#15 - Offer CJ.Wilson a 1 year contract with little to no cost risk to the team. His priority is also linked directly to what happens with the other options for the DL.

#16 - Offer MD.Jennings a 1 year contract with little to no cost risk to the team.

#17 - Offer R.Francois a 1 year contract with no cost risk to the team.

#18 - Offer K.Bell a 1 year contract with no cost risk to the team.

#? - If J.Finley's injury is considered an acceptable risk then the Pack may offer him a 1 year deal at a low cost to re-establish his value.

#? - If J.Jolly's injury is considered an acceptable risk then the Pack may also offer him a 1 year deal at a low cost to ensure they have substantial DL depth.

Al's picture

You say at the right price a lot. Kind of obvious. But you don't sign Mr. Catches Everything Jordy Nelson "at the right price." You give him whatever the heck he wants and my wife, mother, house, and butt hole if he says so.

Icebowler's picture

I thought you were partially sane until you got to #16. We should pay the Bears, Lions, or Vikings to add M.D. Jennings to their 53 next year!

Lou's picture

The only reason he played 16 games is because he didn't practice much during the week - that won't cut it long with his team mates (they can accept a Woodson doing it) and without the practice his play will not get any better. I give him credit for attempting the move but the jury is still out as to whether or not he is just a work out warrior or a potential NFL starter (at either position). Mathews if he can stay healthy has a real chance to break his position coaches record for most sacks by an OLB (160), he is that good and he plays lights out on all plays just like Greene did. Mulumba has a chance based on his rookie year showing and Palmer did hold his own against the run. One way or another they will need a top backup for Mathews and Perry. Perry was just coming on when he had the multiple injuries, I would not bet against him being a disruptive pass rusher that is strong enough to hold the edge. Too bad Zombo left, he could have been that #3 guy, he filled in admirably for the Chiefs this year.

Clayton's picture

Dude Mathews career high in forced fumbles is 3. Do you want me to name all the players in the nfl that has more? Nick Perry who should not have been a first round pick also had 3 this year. I can name a number of cornerbacks that forced more fumbles. Im a huge packer fan but the packers arent my life. My god man!!!!!! Charles Tillman, Osi umenyioura have knacks for forcing fumbles Mattews gets a a career high of 3 this year and cuz he plays for ur team he must be made from the dna of god right? Dude u need to get out of ur house more. Stop playing ps3 bro and actually go kiss s girl. Do u know what females are? I know I like making love to women not playing madden 25 and fantasizing about which player im gonna form my madden franchise around. Seriously your talking like the packers are all I have. Got news for u bro... The packers players dont care about u or me. Now go move out of ur parents basement.

Derek in CO's picture

CM3 is by far the best LB on the team. Watch the freaking tape when he had two hands. I would have Perry drop weight to move around better, and have Neal gain his weight back to move back inside (assuming losing most of DLs). gotta sign or draft another OLB who can move and cover. Mulumba seemed like a more athletic Frank Zombo, who was just a guy, but Mulumba has more potential.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Not only best on our team. One of the best in the league..

I think Neal (if resigned) is far better off as an OLB then on the DL. I think in his first year of ever playing OLB, he got better as the season wore on. I think he could be a good OLB next year with a years worth of experience at the position.

MarkinMadison's picture

Matthews IS the complete package. He IS one of the best in the league. My only beef with Matthews is the injury issue. Even in years when he did not miss games, his hamstring limited his effectiveness for about 1/4 of the season. IF he cost a lot less then the Packes could compensate, but it is tough to have a player sucking up so much cap space when he seems to be perennially hampered by injuries. I made the same point when he signed his contract last spring.

I don't know if Neal has really shown enough to warrant a big contract, but Brian hit the nail on the head by referencing Eric Walden. Bottom line to me is that, unfortunately, the Packers will have to find a serviceable OLB somewhere if Neal leaves.

Stroh's picture

I would say Neal showed enough to warrant a deal similar or a little better than Walden. His 1st year playing 34 OLB and he picked it up pretty quickly. I like his potential as a 34 OLB. I just don't know that the Packers can offer him something in the 5M range or so.

Ben's picture

Mike Neal played every game this year, 16 games with 5 sacks. That's LESS THAN a sack every 3 games. In the 3-4, if your not getting production out of your OLB your struggling. Neal did an admiral job of adjusting, but was much more productive as a DE with a sack every 2.4 games. (from the same position BJ raji has had 0 sacks his last 30 games.) think stoh,come'on think, just a little

But stroh likes his potential as an OLB. Guess what stroh, he is a defensive lineman period and has played there his whole career for a reason. This is what most people who know football would call a farging fact, moron.

Previously I 1st posted:

There is no good options for the packers if they decide to stick with capers in the 3-4. Perry, Datone, & Mulumba are natural 4-3 DEs & played there in college. Daniels would be the next Cullen Jenkins in the 4-3. Neal, at his natural playing weight, is a much better 4-3 DE/DT than 3-4 OLB. Jolly, Boyd, & worthy could provide an excellent 4-3 rotation. Anything other than switching back to the 4-3 is a prelude to failure. The 3-4 is based on good linebacker play and a dominant nose tackle. We will have neither 2014. Matthews could be the next Urlacher as a 4-3 MLB. Datone,Neal,Daniels,Perry should be our nickel DLine with Matthews & LB#2 at the second level.
I don’t see this change happening & see us squandering another valuable year in the career of one of the most dominant QB’s to ever play the game. Too bad.

Dipshite responds: Datone played in a 34 in college, but you didn’t know that did you? He also made all his plays from pass rushing as a DT, not a DE. He doesn’t have the speed to turn the corner as a 43 DE! Mulumba is only 6’3 260, he doesn’t have the size to play 43 DE. But he’s the perfect size for 34 OLB. Quite making things up and trying to act like you know what your talking about!

My response:
If your arguing against my point that our personnel better fits a 4-3 scheme your an idiot. Plain and simple. As far a datone goes, I guess these professional evaluators were just making things up as well. “offers great value to NFL teams featuring the 4-3, Jones ranks as an intriguing hybrid defender who can hold up against the run as a base defensive end, while beating interior lineman with his quickness if moved inside on passing downs.” “Has the ability to rush from the 4-3 End.If needed he could add 10-15 pounds and move inside to 3-Tech where I believe he could develop into a stud as a pass rushing defensive tackle.”"He has the ability to play nearly every position along the defensive line.” “He was an integral part of UCLA’s defensive front, a mixture of three and FOUR linemen that were moved around like chess pieces.
When he wasn’t lined up at five-technique defensive end, he was in at the three-technique. If he wasn’t at the three-technique, he was at the zero-technique. And if he wasn’t at the zero-technique, then he was just about at any other technique.”
He made all his plays at nose tackle? ok stroh, I’m the one making things up.
& as far as Mulumba not having the size to play 4-3 DE your also wrong, obviously WRONG. He’s the same size as Jason babin, john Abraham, Jason pierre-paul, jared allen, cliff avril, Dwight freeney, & brian robison coming out of college. These are the best of the best 4-3 Defensive ends in the league. He’s also slower but stronger than most of these guys. But for some reason, according to you, despite playing there his whole career, is not 4-3 DE, but a OLB only?
take your own advice, “Quite making things up and trying to act like you know what your talking about!” moron.

Dipshite:
Hey IDIOT did you even read what I said?
Datone played in a 34 D in college and was used in the same fashion as he will be in GB! He’s 6’4 290, JJ Watt plays 6’5 295, same basic position. Datone was drafted to play a role very much like Watt plays. Could Datone play 43 DE? Yes, but the days of 300 lb 43 DE are over. Teams want fast, quick pass rushers at DE now. You can count on one hand the number of 43 DE that play at 300 lbs. Datone’s best position is what he is in GB. 34 DE and nickel DT rushing the QB. I never said a Damn thing about him playing NT did I?! NO, I didn’t… Start learning to read a little better moron! The role Datone is in now perfectly suits him. If he played DE in a 43 he would be better off dropping weight to be able to get the corner on the OT. Mulumba has marginal quickness as an OLB. But if he gained 10+ lbs to play DE he would lose even more quickness and wouldn’t be enough to turn the corner. JPP plays at nearly 280. Jared Allen at 270+, Freeney as closer to 270 but only 6’0. So he played more like a 280 lb player. Mulumba would lose too much quickness if he gained more wt to play 43 DE. Abraham is playing 34 OLB in AZ now, he doesn’t even play 43 DE anymore. Where have you been?! Mulumba at his current size is about the IDEAL ht and wt of a 34 OLB. Matthews 6’3 255, Suggs 6’3 260. Aldon Smith 6’4 265… Seeing a trend? Mulumba fits right in w/ them in size, if not talent. Which is EXACTLY what I said!
Start paying attention MORON!
Start watching and learning for a change.

Tell me Stoh, who here is the best canidate for Line Backer considering their weight, strength(reps), and speed(40).
(#1:260,4.62,28reps)
(#2:252,4.55, ?reps) (#3:270,4.71,19reps) (#4:260,4.80,23reps) (#5:265,4.72,13reps) (#6:253,4.51,27reps) (#7:266,4.48,28reps) (#8:259,4.67,27reps)
If you picked the bigger, slowest, stronger guy who's never played linebacker to be the OLB, congratulations, your a moron. All but 1 of these players are the top defensive ends in the NFL.

Stoh couldn't be more wrong or a bigger jerkoff

or stroh is bj raji's screen name

Ben's picture

& where might you think this guy should play. player #9:294,4.87,31reps

Defensive Tackle?
Defensive End?
Nope, he is obviously a linebacker and your are making things up and don't know what your talking about to suggest otherwise

WKUPackFan's picture

Ben can continue to post as many words as he wants, it still doesn't make them any more correct.

Stroh's picture

WKUPackfan. Short, succinct and right on the mark! Very well said!

The TKstinator's picture

Much in agreement.
Walden is a prime example of "it only takes one team"...
If Neal gets a Walden-esque offer, it'll be adios, 96.

In another vein: Has Ted EVER gotten into a bidding war over any player? He makes his offer, and what happens, happens.

(I bet he's a tough guy to sell a car to also.)

Hank Scorpio's picture

Perry and Neal both seem more like 4-3 ends than 3-4 OLBs to me. They're both decent rushing the QB but struggle a bit in space.

Matthews is a great LB. He's relentless. He can run. He can tackle. He can cover. He's a playmaker. He can play any LB spot in any LB system, IMO. If they didn't need him as a pass rusher, I wouldn't be opposed to moving him inside to solve that glaring weakness.

I doubt the Packers would draft a true 3-4 OLB early given those 3 were all high picks. But there are worse ways to try to improve the defense, IMO.

pooch's picture

I concur,see my earlier post

Morgan Mundane's picture

Too bad they screwed him up by rushing the passer and not playing the middle. He could be a dominant guy in the middle. I blame the 3-4 and the fact with the 3-4 you don't need to draft top quality DE's. just use linebackers and save the money. You get what you pay for Ted and Ted is paying for Dom to keep us a cheapo 3-4 defense.

Stroh's picture

I agree Neal and Perry are probably better as 43 DE, but I do think both can play 34 OLB. Both are quicker and faster than Paul Kruger who signed a nice contract in Cleve after leaving Balt. I think both will be better 34 OLB than Kruger.

Matthews can definitely play LB in any scheme. I think the Packers need to move Neal, Perry and even more Matthews around. If they bring Neal back I would like to see Perry rushing more from ROLB, Neal some in both and use Matthews in a lot of roles. Right now he is just too much better as a pass rusher than anyone else to take him out of that role often.

The TKstinator's picture

Right. GB would be doing opponents a favor by NOT using 52 to rush often. Although I also agree that he is our best LB in coverage as well as vs. the run. Just a beast. I just wish his hamstrings were made of titanium. Or some other indestructible substance.

4thand1's picture

How can u rush 52? I thought there was 11 on the field at a time. I know nothing about football, geeesh.

Evan's picture

Man, people sure are pissy today.

4thand1's picture

Just today?

Evan's picture

ha...fair point. Today seems especially agro.

The TKstinator's picture

I think it's the diuretics.

KennyPayne's picture

So despite investing 2 first round picks and a second in the position, we have 1 outstanding but oft-injured OLB, 2 DEs trying to play the OLB with limited success and a Mulumba.

I say let Neal go unless it is a very palatable contract for the Pack., He has rarely been healthy and simply is not an OLB.

Time to see what Perry can do in 2014 -- worrisome that he was behind Walden in 2012 and Neal in 2013 and fill the other position with a rookie or, heaven forbid, a low-budget free agent.

Morgan Mundane's picture

I say, take your average Packer snow shovel, put it againts Perry's as and I would wager his ass is wider than your shovel.
The guy is not and has never been in NFL football shape. Bust city. He had two years and did nada, year three doesn't automatically make him the guy. NOT

Stroh's picture

James Harrison didn't become a good starter until his 5th year in the NFL. Takes time to learn 34 OLB. Perry has played about the equivalent of one NFL season, but should know the D much better next year and be able to play faster.

ArodMoney's picture

Tbh I bet Neal wants to leave unless there is a huge money difference. He really could flourish as a 4-3 DE where his only responsibility is to attack. It seemed that he was more than a little frustrated by the position switch.

4thand1's picture

A lot of teams have been picking smallish college DE's and turning them into OLB's. Defenses want to get pressure as quick as they can. The best teams are the ones who get pressure without blitzing. You have to have a really good front 4. To run the 43 you better have the horses.

Evan's picture

Almost all 3-4 OLBs were college DEs. Few teams run a true 3-4 in college.

Morgan Mundane's picture

Point made. Using these guys as pass rushers is like having a BJ Raji covering wide receivers. Perry is proof, he is slow to the ball and teams have run at him all year with big gains because he is not mobile to play the outside.
Don't believe me, play back all the run plays and they were 75 at him. The rest moslty up the middle with a few going to the left side.

MarkinMadison's picture

That makes NO sense. Using pass rushing DEs as pass rushers is like putting Raji in coverage against wide outs? Seriously.

The TKstinator's picture

I was thinking the same thing!

"Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?" WHAT??

zeke's picture

Go back and sit in the corner, moron. Your paste is getting cold.

The TKstinator's picture

Agreed. So there is always some "projection" going on at the position.
Perry has been hurt. So, it could be said he hasn't PRODUCED much yet, but that is not to say he can't do it in the future. I'd just like to see the guy stay healthy over a full season and THEN decide what GB has in him.

scott's picture

Neal is another often injured Packer player who played through an injury to get a big pay check. Once he get's it his playing time will decrease because of injuries.

larry valdes's picture

Left tackles are better pass blockers and biger so why do we use our best rusher (matweus) wasting his energy insted of moving him to rush from the rigth side lets move perry to the left size where he is more suit.

4thand1's picture

Why do later posts seem to get garbled? OUI

WKUPackFan's picture

Brian, Really enjoying your position reviews. However, I have to pick one nit. I feel as though your several references to (paraphrasing) "DE/OLB hybrid" and "converting to OLB" is inviting people (not to mention the trolls) to criticize GB for playing Perry and Neal at OLB.

It is common practice, as posted by Evan and several others, that college DEs transition to pro 3-4 OLBs. Your own article on the bowl game all-stars noted two college DEs expected to play OLB. You wrote a fantastic piece before the season started about why the Neal transition was a smart move for GB.

I just got the feeling when originally reading this column that you were subtly encouraging these types of uninformed comments. I apologize if that was not your intent.

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