This is a excerpt from a Matt Williamson article on ESPN. He is discussing what he believes to be several of the more intriguing linebacking corps in the league. See his take on the Carolina Panther's linebackers below...
"The loss of Thomas Davis (knee) for the season is brutal. I was extremely high on Davis before his series of major knee injuries. He was ready to explode onto the scene as one of the premier 4-3 outside linebackers. But football is a rough sport and injuries happen, so discussing Davis further is a rather moot point.
The acquisition of Jamar Williams was extremely timely and he will make the loss more bearable. Williams didn't play a ton of snaps for the Chicago Bears, as Lance Briggs is entrenched on the weak side in Chicago. When Williams did get on the field, he played exceptionally well. As much as I like Davis, the drop-off might not be massive.
The other option on the weak side is to move superstar MLB Jon Beason to that spot. Beason is one of the top middle linebackers in the game today and very adept at making all the defensive calls and adjustments. Surely he could handle those responsibilities from the weak side. With Williams now in the fold, I would be in favor of leaving Beason in the middle. Beason did begin his career on the weak side while Dan Morgan manned the middle for Carolina. But playing the vast majority of his time in the middle, Beason has accumulated a whopping 420 tackles in his three NFL seasons. He is an elite football player.
If Beason were to move outside, that would open up the middle for Dan Connor. An instinctive player, Connor is a good tackler and always around the ball. To me, this comes down to who is the better player: Connor or Williams? Give me Williams, but that doesn't mean that Connor has to stand on the sidelines holding his helmet all game, either.
Injuries hampered Connor's early development in the NFL, but there is still hope for him to develop into a very solid all-around player like he was at Penn State. However, he is a bit of a tweener in that he isn't a great take-on player and isn't a superb athletic specimen, which also limits his ceiling.
James Anderson is the early favorite for the strong side. He did little of consequence last season and overall is a very average player. Obviously, the Panthers knew this when they used a fourth-round pick on Eric Norwood. It might not be immediate, but Norwood is going to unseat Anderson. He is built for this position with a James Harrison -like body type and brings more big-play ability to the fold than Anderson, especially from a pass-rushing standpoint. Connor probably could handle the strong side, as well.
Overall, this isn't a bad group. It worries me a great deal that Carolina might just have the worst set of defensive tackles in the league and that there is much uncertainty along the entire defensive line. But considering that they just lost a player of Davis' status, the Panthers could be much worse off than they are at linebacker."
NOTE: All Content written by Matt Williamson for Scouts, Inc & ESPN.com
And yes, I highlighted the second to last sentence because there has been some spirited discussion on this subject in the past couple months. But what do you guys think about his evaluation? Its pretty similar to most of the opinions we've seen on this blog. Any slights, oversights, delusions, etc?
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