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Safeties and Linebackers

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In today's game, the Safety as extra Linebacker and Linebacker as extra DT are supporting players at best. Otherwise Brandon Spikes and Donte Whitner would be making 10M per year.

They both need to be pass defenders first. For my team, anyway. I don't much care how tall most of them are, although I do need someone to cover Gronk who isn't going to be the subject of a red zone jump ball every time we play New England.

Priorities for each are the same:

1. Cover man to man.
2. Understand offenses so they are not out of position all the time.
3. Tackle effectively. I don't want a Michael Huff or Donte Whitner who tries to drop everyone with a shoulder. That is a path to failure. I don't care if you never make a network highlight reel so long as the ball-carrier never gets more than a fall down in extra yards every time you touch him. I will pay you as though you did make a highlight reel, trust me. This, the one previous, and the three to follow take care of stopping the run. Got that Rex and Doug?
4. Communicate effectively with your teammates. This is true of everyone everywhere regardless of industry, but these positions interact with other levels on every play, so if they cannot quickly communicate with their teammates they will too often be out of position.
5. Decisiveness. Also necessary of everyone everywhere if they hope to deliver excellence.
6. Either shed or tie up a blocker. Hopefully both, but in a pinch if you can do one reliably that will be good enough. I employ cornerbacks who can tackle, so it is OK to weaken an offensive play and let your teammate stop it.
7. Hands. That would be sweet. Least necessary of these, but still a nice thing to have.

This brings me to this year's draft and a general player acquisition policy I have touched on before.

1. Karl Joseph: No. Not another Whitner. Love him as a complementary player and he looks like he could be an amazing kicking game player, but I do not want to rely on him to be a Safety. Not a good enough tackler, and not quite good enough in coverage.
2. Jalen Ramsay. Looks like a masculine Deion Sanders. Play him at Corner as long as you can, and move him to Safety when he is 35.

3. I have seen a lot of comments suggesting that this year's draft is not particularly strong at Safety. I will address that by finding a good tackling corner who is a step behind the track stars but is never out of position otherwise and move him to Safety. If I am facing a weak Linebacker class, I will probably do the same by moving a solid but a step slow (because he is most likely a little too big) Safety to LB.

For example, Brandon Browner, anybody? No way in hell he is ever going to cover a wide receiver for me, but if he is willing to do it cheap, I would be happy to try him at OLB.

I have also seen a note somewhere that someone might want to move Myles Jack to Safety. Wrong direction. Don't try to turn him into Troy Polamalu. Enjoy him as potentially the best WILB you ever saw (knee and time willing.)

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