Thursday, February 14, 2013
Cincinnati's LBs in 2013
By Tim Kavanagh
There is a lot of discussion over how the change in NFL offenses has yielded different value being placed on certain types of defenders, and it certainly has changed the way that teams formulate their plans on defense. With teams using more of their nickel package, an adept slot CB has become more of a need as opposed to a luxury, and it has diminished the necessity to have a top-flight player as the strong-side OLB. For many clubs, their MLB and WLB are the ones to stay on the field in the nickel set, so paying top dollar for a player that will only be on the field half the time simply doesn't make economic sense.
The Cincinnati Bengals may be losing all three players that made up their 2012 opening day roster at LB: MLB Rey Maualuga as well as OLBs Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson are all hitting unrestricted free agency this offseason. But it may not be that big of an issue: undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict stepped in as the starter at WLB after Howard's season-ending injury, and he is likely inheriting the starting MLB role in 2013. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Lamur -- who was promoted from the practice squad in Week 9 -- will likely replace him at WLB. If Lawson proves too pricey for Cincy, the SLB job could fall to 2011 third-rounder Dontay Moch, or they could fish another low-priced option out of the waters of free agency.