The Patriots Linebacker corps is changing this off season. I have written before that I think the time of dedicated ST LBs is or will be drawing to a close. Don Davis had the most ST tackles last year and clearly outplayed Larry Izzo, as did departed Mike Stone. Larry cannot play a regular defensive LB position. He is older, slower, and way to small; he has severe problems shedding blocks. OTOH, Davis can also take a few snaps as a coverage LB; at one time he was a regular, and a starting MLB for the Rams Super bowl club, but not a star. He started out his career as a SS to LB conversion, so he did have legitimate speed for a LB, and some coverage ability. The OLB contingent contenders are: Vrabel 6-4 260# 31 Colvin 6-3 250# 29 TBC 6-2 250# 26 Brown 6-2 250# 35 Mincey 6-3 260# 22 Woods 6-5 255# 23 Oh and also Bruschi 6-1 247# 33 A total of 7 contenders for a3 or 4 man rotation. The ILB contingent contenders are: Bruschi 6-1 247# 33 Gardner 6-1 245# 29 Beisel 6-3 245# 27 Seau 6-3 255# 37 Vrabel 6-4 260# 31 Davis 6-1 235# 33 Izzo 5-10 228# 33 Alexander 6-2 240# 24 Roach 6-2 255# 23 A total of 9 contenders for a 4-5 man rotation including specialists. That is a total of 14 players and over the last few seasons the Patriots have carried ten guys nominally labeled as LBs. A couple were nothing but LBs in name only, and really just sizable ST tacklers. They could be substituted for by large SS who might have superior speed. So who are the Four cuts from this group? I think Larry Izzo is gone. I think C Brown injured, is waived but will return; meanwhile he is a safe "shadow roster " cut. I think F Roach is cut but may join the PS. I think E Alexander beats out Davis for the ST LB and Davis is cut. Alternative 1: one of Mincey/Woods is cut and signed to the PS. Davis survives, for his last season due to intangibles like "locker room leadership". Alternative 2: one of the safeties, like Tebuckey Jones or Sanders is kept (like Jerrod Cherry), and given the ST job. Then Davis goes as well. The Pats carry 9 LBs, instead of 10, all of whom can contribute in some way to the regular LB defense. In the case of my prime prediction the LB corps is 37,33,31,29,29,27, 26,24,23,23 years of age, averaging 28.2 years old. With the starters at 37,33,31,29. Its almost a young LB corps. In Alternative 1 the lb corps is 37,33,33,31,29,29, 27,26,24,23. year of age averaging 29.2 years old. And Alternative 2 the LB corps is: 37,33,31,29,29,27,26,24,23 years of age, averaging 28.7 years old. Now whether any of these contingents can play is a question but I see them as a relatively young and talented contingent. Among the LBs are three former pro bowlers, and five of whom were judged to be superior LBs. The first replacement is to recall Chad Brown 35, to add to the depth from the "shadow roster" rather than promoting a PS rookie, all of whom need seasoning... The Patriots are hardly devoid of talent in their LB corps, and I will make the assertion that this is probably the youngest, deepest and most talented LB corps, he has placed on the field, since his arrival in 2000. Its amazing to see BB and Pioli to rebuild, to fit the pieces, to patch, together a strong LB corps in the matter of a single off season. This is a much improved group in comparison to the relatively weak group that entered the 2005 seaon, even without Willie.