The big cry during the draft by the more critical was that we haven't done enough to address the defense. But it seemed to me between returning players, free agents, and draftees much of the defense fielded in the Super Bowl will be different than the defense that will be expected to take the field in 2018. Here are the snap counts for the defensive players in the Super Bowl. The thing that stood out to me right away is that James Harrison took 91% of the defensive snaps! Ye Gods. Think of all the players that had to wash out in order for us to use a 15th week waiver claim for 91% of snaps. Ninkovich, Ealy, Marsh, Rivers... all out. It was Harrison or Wise (who had only 6 snaps) or Eric Lee (16 snaps). Role Player in SB LII Pos Snaps Snap % DE/DT 1 Malcom Brown DT 62 83% DE/DT 2 Lawrence Guy DE 57 76% DE/DT 3 Ricky Jean-Francois DT 15 20% DE/DT 4 Adam Butler DT 13 17% Edge 1 Trey Flowers DE 75 100% Edge 2 James Harrison LB 68 91% Pass Rusher Eric Lee DE 16 21% Pass Rusher Deatrich Wise Jr. DE 6 8% LB 1 Kyle Van Noy LB 75 100% LB 2 Elandon Roberts LB 44 59% LB 3 Marquis Flowers LB 18 24% CB 1 Stephon Gilmore CB 75 100% CB 2 Eric Rowe CB 71 95% Safety 1 Devin McCourty FS 75 100% Safety 2 Patrick Chung SS 63 84% Nickel Duron Harmon FS 65 87% DB (Extra) Jordan Richards SS 16 21% DB (Extra) Johnson Bademosi CB 11 15% I bolded all of the players who are no longer with the team, and put in italics all of the players who would have a reduced or no role at all in the 2018 defense if everyone's healthy. Here are how these roles would probably be filled today, provided everyone is healthy and performing as well as expected. Role Player in 2018 Training Camp Pos DE/DT 1 Malcom Brown DT DE/DT 2 Danny Shelton DT DE/DT 3 Lawrence Guy DE DE/DT 4 Vincent Valentine DT Edge 1 Trey Flowers DE Edge 2 Adrian Clayborn DE Pass Rusher Derek Rivers DE Pass Rusher Deatrich Wise Jr. DE LB 1 Dont'a Hightower LB LB 2 Kyle Van Noy LB LB 3 Elandon Roberts LB CB 1 Stephon Gilmore CB CB 2 Jason McCourty CB Safety 1 Devin McCourty FS Safety 2 Patrick Chung SS Nickel Duron Harmon FS DB (Extra) Eric Rowe CB DB (Extra) Duke Dawson CB New players are in bold, returning players are in italics. Had snaps in Super Bowl but no longer expected to play on defense: A. Butler, Richards, Bademosi, M. Flowers, Lee. The roles seem pretty set. I could see Bentley/Sam taking over Roberts' spot, and A. Butler and Lee are there to step in for any DE/DT's that falter. Three guys named Jones and some more candidates are around for any DB's that falter. If we were to calculate what percentage of the total overall snaps will be taken by either new or returning players from players in the Super Bowl who have either departed or have had their role reduced, it would come out to 39.1% 10.1% of that are the snaps taken by the departed Harrison and Jean-Francois. 8.9% are from the "benched" A. Butler, Richards, Bedemosi, M. Flowers, and Eric Lee. And 18.7% are from players who'd be expected to take on a lesser role (Guy, Van Noy, Rowe, Roberts). That's the best possible outcome, of course. Injuries and underperformance will undoubtedly show up to some extent, but hopefully not as much as last year. Using the same methodology, the players penciled into the roles at the beginning of camp that did not wind up making it to the Super Bowl accounted for 39.1% of the snaps lost due to retirement (Ninkovich), underperformance (Branch, Ealy), injury (Hightower, Rivers, C. Jones & J. Jones), and still unexplained to some coach's decision (M. Butler). I think if our lost snaps this year is closer to 15% than 30% we'd all right. The first is near the equivalent of two full time starters. The second is near the equivalent of four. The general point I want to make is that the 2018 will be substantially different than the end of 2017 team, with new or returning personnel taking around 37% of the snaps. If you match up the player doing a job at the end of 2017 with the player expected to do that job in 2018, I think the only arguable downgrade is M. Butler to J. McCourty. Otherwise, Shelton is an upgrade over Jean-Francois. Valentine should be an upgrade over A. Butler (and if not, A. Butler is still here), Rivers vs. Eric Lee, Clayborn vs. Harrison. Hightower's return improves all three LB spots, plus we added two draftees for depth. And I would not expect to see Richards and Bademosi on defense unless we see multiple injuries.