As is stands now, there are two proven players in Patterson and Bunkley. Next in line is Anotonio Dixon, a promising but raw talent, followed by the disappointing Trevor Laws and finally rookie Jeff Owens. For now, I’ll leave out the rookie free agents because they are longshots to make the final roster.
What if Laws lives up to his bust status and gets cut? What if Owens doesn’t show enough during training camp? That would leave the defense one injury away from disaster. Even if Te’o-Nesheim and Graham can play inside, neither is big enough to see extended snaps.
Darren Howard is gone and Abiamiri will likely miss the season. I guess they could re-sign Howard out of desperation, but I don’t think he has much left in the tank. If he did, they wouldn’t have dumped him in the first place. There might be a couple guys available on the streets after final roster cuts, but anyone brought aboard at that time would have to learn a whole new scheme.
Worst case scenario, this reeks of the middle linebacker and free safety debacles from last year. Relying on Laws and Owens to provide quality depth seems very risky. At the cost of adding rushing ends, speedy linebackers and hybrid secondary players, Reid and Co. have neglected the tackle position.
We better hope at least one of these young bucks pans out, or McDermott‘s new look defense could be in big trouble.