The Cleveland Browns are toying with the idea of the LSU rookie, Jacob Phillips, starting at linebacker.
The Cleveland Browns linebackers coach Jason Tarver has said that B.J. Goodson, Mack Wilson, Sione Takitaki, and rookie linebacker Jacob Phillips all have a shot at starting at linebacker this season; this according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Tarver, who participated in a video conference on Wednesday expressed the legitimacy of Phillips playing the position.
Tarver spoke highly of Phillips, not just for his athleticism but also for his intelligence with the game, “..very smart, productive young man and wants to know all of the positions.”
"We wanted football intelligence, we wanted length and speed. He has those. His skill set really fits for any of the spots. He’s a good box player who got better on a championship team."
Tarver cited some conflicting information, saying that there will be three starting linebacker spots, where defensive coordinator Joe Woods has expressed a desire to play more nickel-defense with three safeties. It turns out that maybe the nickel scheme is being overplayed by a bit, and the team may focus more on a base 4-3 then we were lead to believe.
For Phillips to play linebacker, the question of where would he play seems important. Tarver believes Phillips is good enough of a football player to line up inside at the middle position or at either outside spot.
Tarver is also very confident in the men he has for the linebacking corps overall. While he didn’t say he would have an issue with the team signing talent, it appears as though Tarver has the utmost confidence in Goodson, Takitaki, Wilson, and Phillips. As for Wilson, Tarver believes he’ll improve greatly from last season to this one due to the experience Wilson now has.
Tarver also preached the idea of versatility, perhaps hinting at Phillips being able to drop back in coverage on nickel plays instead of just taking him out of the game.
“A lot of our linebacker positioning is interchangeable. They’re all going to have to do certain things. We’re going to rush them, we’re going to drop them. They’re all going to have to be in situations and do similar movements.
What about it fans? Are you open to the idea of Phillips playing linebacker?