Many believe the Denver Broncos have a weak inside linebacker corps. I believe they have a strong group, provided they get and stay healthy. That is where the concerns lie.
This group has the ability to be great, especially in a defense that will play to their strengths, but they have to stay healthy. Last season the health at inside linebacker was what caused a lot of problems. Some players stepped up, or started showing signs of stepping up, but by that point it was essentially too late.
With that said, let us dive into who makes it this year at inside linebacker.
No. 1 Mo LB: Danny Trevathan
First up is Danny Trevathan as one of the two starters. Last year, Trevathan missed basically the whole season with knee injuries. In 2013, he broke onto the scene, leading the team in tackles. He was all over the place making plays.
His last full season, he defended the run greatly and was very good in coverage. As long as he stays healthy, he should have another big season.
After missing almost all of 2014, Trevathan is more than ready to get onto the field and play. He still has some recovery time before he can fully hit the field, but during OTAs, he said he'll be ready some time during training camp. I would expect him to have a year that is, at the very least, as good as his 2013 season.
Stat Prediction: 130 tackles, two sacks, five QB hits, 10 hurries, 70 stops and two interceptions.
No. 1 Mike LB: Brandon Marshall
The other starter is Brandon Marshall. When Trevathan went down last year, Marshall really stepped up in a big way. That is, until he missed time later in the season with a foot injury. After spending time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Marshall joined the Broncos in 2013 and spent the year doing great things on a mediocre special teams unit.
Like Trevathan, Marshall still needs time to rehab from his foot surgery but should be ready some time during training camp. Marshall and Trevathan complement one another pretty well. While Trevathan is a slightly better run defender, Marshall is better in coverage and more consistent in coverage.
In Wade Phillips' defensive scheme, you will see them both used to their strengths. I would expect Marshall to have a really good year, with numbers close to that of Trevathan, as long as they stay healthy.
Stat Prediction: 120 tackles, three sacks, four QB hits, 11 hurries, 55 stops and two interceptions.
Backup ILB: Steven Johnson
The first backup is Steven Johnson. Johnson has been doing really good with the first team during practices and adds value on special teams. The area Johnson has really shone during practice is in run defense.
He also, reportedly, picked up the defense really quick and is helping others to pick it up. I would be surprised, at this point, if he did not make the roster.
Stat Prediction: 60 tackles, zero sacks, one QB hit, seven hurries, 18 stops and zero interceptions.
Backup ILB: Todd Davis
The final backup is Todd Davis. I have seen a lot of people talking about how Davis won’t make it. However, he has been working with the first team with Trevathan and Marshall unable to practice, and Davis has been performing excellently.
Right now, he is the No. 2 inside linebacker. He is going to make the squad without a doubt, unless he takes a massive U-turn come training camp and preseason.
More Broncos Stories
Stat Prediction: 30 tackles, zero sacks, two QB hits, five hurries, six stops and zero interceptions.
With those four guys making the final roster, it leaves to two former draft picks from the 2014 NFL Draft getting the ax, along with an offseason free agent pickup. Reggie Walker was the free agent pickup, and so far he hasn’t been showing so well. He looks like he would just be a special teams player, and Denver can get that from Davis and Johnson.
With the rule changes to the practice squad, they could be competing for a spot. Nelson also may get a shot as a box safety, similar to how T.J. Ward has been used, although I find that to be a doubtful proposition.
That wraps up the inside linebackers. Stay tuned for the cornerbacks.
Related Story: Early Broncos 53-Man Roster Projection: QB
Related Story: Early Broncos 53-Man Roster Projection: RB
Related Story: Early Broncos 53-Man Roster Projection: WR
Related Story: Early Broncos 53-Man Roster Projection: TE
Related Story: Early Broncos 53-Man Roster Projection: OL
Related Story: Early Broncos 53-Man Roster Projection: DL
Related Story: Early Broncos 53-Man Roster Projection: OLB