It seems the common consensus on the board is that Vrabel moves to OLB. I think that it is possible, perhaps even probable, but for the sake of argument, lets look at it from the "mike position."
Ted Johnson played the mike position in the 3-4 defense. As the mike, TJ took on the guards. It would seem he played it so well that he cracked some guys helmet, and had to retire with concussions.
Obviously our 266 lb Vrabel played it very well, so the 64,000 dollar question is who plays the Mike if Vrabel moves outside.
Bruschi and Beisel
There is no way that Beisel will ever be confused as a Mike. Unless he reports to camp with a lot more weight, he can't play that position.
Bruschi and Claridge
Possible. At 259 lb Claridge does have the necessary weight to play the position.
Bruschi and Roach
Roach obviously has no chance at breaking into the starting lineup, but he is a protypical Mike.
Thus, it can clearly be seen that if Vrabel moves out, as of now Claridge (our 5th round pick last year) probably will break the starting lineup as the Mike. Roach (like Randall Gay that one year), has an decent chance of making the 53 as the backup mike.
Beisel on the other hand, has a well-defined role as Bruschi's back-up, and as pass-covering LB who can sub out the Mike (see Roman Phifer).
Obviously Vrabel is the best player available to play Mike.
If Vrabel stays inside, our ILB depth chart looks like this:
Bruschi ............... Vrabel
Beisel ............... Claridge
Alexander ............... Roach
Our OLB would be:
Colvin ............. TBC or Claridge
Mincey .............. Claridge or TBC
Can TBC or Claridge man the outside position? As long as he sets the edge, doesn't try to do too much, forces everything back-up the middle, we'll be fine.
Conclusion #1, if Vrabel goes outside, Claridge starts. If Vrabel stays inside, TBC and Claridge could battle for the outside position. Winner gets the spot, the loser stays on the bench.
Conclusion #2, Roach (a projected 4th round pick) has the best shot of making the squad as UDFA, as Randall Gay did that year when he made the squad.
If I remember, we cut T. Buckley that year our depth chart looked like this:
Law, Poole, Samuels, Gay
Law and Poole got hurt, and Samuels and Gay were our starters in the Super Bowl
Edit: also BTW, Alexander weighs almost exactly the same as Beisel. Unless either of them put on significant weight, both of them cannot play the running down "mike" position.
Also, much of my musings is based on the fact that TBC has always played the OLB position, whereas, Claridge's role doesn't have much of a past to be defined. I think Claridge can play both OLB and ILB. JMO