The Buffalo Bills enter the 2018 offseason with a linebacker group that is largely in flux. Preston Brown is a free agent, and Lorenzo Alexander had an up-and-down season as the starting SAM linebacker. The team could easily decide to move on from both players and look to get younger at the position by drafting their replacements. Going with the draft option would make additional financial sense, as cutting Alexander would save $2.5 million on the salary cap.
Below are some potential replacements for Lorenzo if the team decides to move on.
Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
The primary task of a SAM linebacker in a 4-3 defense is to lineup on the strong side of the formation and hold the edge against the run. On passing downs, their time is split between covering tight ends and rushing the passer. At 6’5” 236 pounds, Edmunds has the size and speed to play any of the linebacker positions, including SAM. His height would be an asset when attempting to hold the edge and when asked to cover tight ends. Ever since he declared for the draft, Edmunds stock has been on the rise and he is now firmly stamped as a first-round prospect.
Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss
Uchenna Nwosu, USC
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
This tier is make up of prospects that made their hay rushing the passer in college but, due to a lack of size or bulk, could make the transition to 4-3 linebacker. Nwosu and Okorunkwo are physically identical to Lorenzo Alexander at 6’2”, 245 pounds and 6’1”, 243 pounds, respectively. Carter and Haynes are a bit lighter, but their taller statures mean they could take on more coverage responsibilities. Tier II prospects are likely to be available on the second or even the third day of the draft.
Garret Dooley, Wisconsin
Mike McCray, Michigan
Jack Cichy, Wisconsin
Davin Bellamy, Georgia
Tier III prospects are either athletically limited and might be limited to only a two-down role (McCray, Bellamy, Dooley) or coming off a long-term injury (Cichy). The calling card of all four prospects is their physicality: they’re not afraid to mix it up with tight ends and blockers in the run game. While their upside is limited, they will likely be available on Day 3 of the draft.
- Film analysis: Lorenzo Alexander was solid, not spectacular, in 2017
- Bills could save some cap space by releasing Lorenzo Alexander
- Replacing Lorenzo Alexander too tall a task for already-thin Bills linebacker corps
- Potential free agent options if replacing Lorenzo Alexander is a priority
- State of the Bills roster: lots of free agents could lead to major overhaul