Lions Positional Analysis: Linebacker

In this 11 part series Adam Ostermeier and I are going to be profiling each position group on the Lions’ roster, with two groups a week, and three during the last week as we lead you to the first preseason game of the year against the Steelers on August 12. In this series of articles we will be giving you a general idea of what to expect for each player, project stats for the upcoming season, and predict who’s making the final cut to keep your off-season boredom at a low dim and give you a chance to look at the roster before the first kickoff happens. Today we will look at the defensive tackle position, so let’s kick this off!

DeAndre Levy is Back

Detroit was without Levy for 15 of the 16 games last year and even in the one game he started he didn’t do much and left the field early. Levy is 100 percent healthy and ready to roll into this upcoming season and help the linebacker core in Detroit as last year didn’t go as planned. He has done a good amount of work so far in the NFL, with 438 tackles, 173 assisted tackles, 12 interceptions, 33 pass deflections, three and a half sacks, two forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries – and with another healthy year he could look to add more to the stat line this season.

2016 Projection: 85 tackles, 25 assisted tackles, three interceptions, five pass deflections.

Jon Bostic Looks to Compete

Detroit needed some depth at linebacker and the trade for Jon Bostic filled that role. Bostic played two seasons with the Bears before going to New England and he has 103 tackles, 38 assisted tackles, four pass deflections, an interception and fumble recovery. He won’t start for the Lions, but he could easily be a backup that can contribute.

2016 Projection: 25 tackles, 10 assisted tackles, one pass deflection.

Josh Bynes Will Find a Role

Josh Bynes took over for DeAndre Levy last year and played some outside linebacker despite being a middle linebacker. He has gotten 113 tackles, 66 assisted tackles, one interception, 11 pass deflections, one forced fumble and recovery and a half a sack. With Stephen Tulloch getting cut just a few weeks ago, the door could open for him compete for the starting middle linebacker spot with Tahir Whitehead. Worst case scenario he could start at the opposite linebacker spot.

2016 Projection: 60 tackles, 20 assisted tackles, 10 pass deflections, one forced fumble.

Zaviar Gooden Won’t Last Long

Zaviar Gooden has been in the league for two years and only had 27 tackles and 10 assisted tackles. He played in a season and a half and with those low numbers shows that he won’t last long on this team and his chances of being one of the 53 are slim.

2016 Projection: Cut.

Antwione Williams Battling For Time

Detroit needed some depth in the position and decided to draft Williams in the fifth round of the draft this year. Williams had 172 tackles, 18.5 for loss, seven sacks, five pass deflections and five forced fumbles in his two years playing at Georgia Southern. He missed the 2013 season due to an injury, but has been healthy since being red shirted that year. Williams will battle for playing time, and end up making the team, just by a hair though.

2016 Projection: 10 tackles, two assisted tackles.

Kyle Van Noy Could Surprise People

Kyle Van Noy will have to show the coaches that he can make this year his best chance to play for the team in the future. Van Noy has dealt with injuries since entering the NFL, missing the entire 2013 season and playing in just eight games in 2014. Van Noy has only 11 tackles, two assisted tackles, and one sack.  This is his critical opportunity to have a good camp and show the team he can be a force on defense for the first time.

2016 Projection: 15 tackles, six assisted tackles, one sack and two pass deflections.

Khaseem Greene’s Time Will Run Out

Khaseem Greene didn’t play at all last season, and has 33 tackles, 12 assisted tackles, one interception, pass deflection and forced fumble in his career. Greene hasn’t been with the Lions for long and his time could run out by week one. Detroit has plenty of better linebackers on this team that Greene won’t have a shot to even make the team.

2016 Projection: Cut.

Dominique Tovell’s Experience Will Cost Him

The Detroit Lions just made this addition on Thursday, cutting Jerry Franklin and signing Dominique Tovell. Tovell is coming in as an undrafted free agent from University of Louisiana at Layfayette, having 222 total tackles, 34 for loss, 10.5 sacks, six pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles in his career. Both players, Franklin and Tovell, never did or never will have a shot to make the 53 man roster. Franklin has yet to put up any numbers, so Detroit cut him loose and brought in an undrafted rookie that did put up some good numbers in college. Tovell could be a practice squad body in the end.

2016 Projection: Practice Squad.

Tahir Whitehead Steps Up

Out comes Stephen Tulloch, in comes Tahir Whitehead. Tulloch finally was cut and Whitehead could be his replacement. Whitehead was at the outside linebacker spot while Tulloch was in the middle, but Whitehead thinks he can be in the middle now. Whitehead has done well with the Lions, getting 113 tackles, 34 assisted tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, 11 pass deflections, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Whitehead should have a solid year though taking over for Tulloch.

2016 Projection: 55 tackles, 20 assisted tackles, one sack, one interception, eight pass deflections.

Final Linebacker Depth Chart

Outside

  1. DeAndre Levy
  2. Josh Bynes
  3. Kyle Van Noy
  4. Antwione Williams

Inside

  1. Tahir Whitehead
  2. Jon Bostic

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BKnappBlogs, find me on Reddit at /u/sportsguy4life and leave me your thoughts on the Detroit Lions subreddit.

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About the Author

Brandon Knapp
Brandon Knapp is a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in Journalism, minoring in Sports Management. He was born and raised in the city of Marysville, MI. He also writes for myfantasysportstalk.com and covers the Michigan Wolverines Football team (his other love). Brandon also enjoys watching the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers.