Who’s going to settle in as starters on the defense?
We know that Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Sheldon Richardson, and Larry Ogunjobi are your starters. That’s it. We know Olivier Vernon will lineup somewhere, but we don’t know where. We know that Andrew Billings will get a lot of reps, as will Mack Wilson, but neither are promised anything despite the expectations around them.
The team intends on running three-safety sets at times, yet no one’s really sure which one of the discount safeties the team got will in fact see playing time. Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph have injuries and some declining seasons of play to worry about. Grant Delpit is a rookie and may not even be a good pro, no one knows the answer to that question.
Then the linebacking corp, including Wilson’s spot, will be up for grabs with Sione Takitaki, B.J. Goodson, and rookie Jacob Phillips competing for the three slots. Someone’s going to miss out on a spot. This doesn’t even take into consideration what the team may still be doing with free agency. There’s no real word that the team isn’t still pursuing Jadeveon Clowney or still isn’t interested in Everson Griffen. There’s speculation that with the Vernon contract re-working that they are done looking at defensive ends, but GM Andrew Berry himself said they’re going to be looking to improve the roster year-round.
If they sign another defensive end, that could mean Vernon moves back to outside linebacker, which means that two of those linebackers previously mentioned don’t start.
Positions like the offensive have depth issues. The defense, on the other hand, has starter issues. They let some proven veterans go over the last two offseasons and this is what they find themselves having to navigate now.
It’s entirely possible this defense becomes a top-of-the-league unit with these new pieces. That doesn’t take away the fact it’s got the most questions to answer in training camp.