Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Linebackers (5): Drue Tranquill, Amen Ogbongbemiga, Kyzir White, Nick Niemann, Kenneth Murray
Drue Tranquill will be back after missing 15 games in 2020 with a season-ending injury. He was projected to be a breakout player by many prior to the season. It’ll be important to have him back in the fold with Kenneth Murray and Kyzir White.
Those three guys are locks to make the team and I’ll be curious to see what Brandon Staley does with them. Could we see more of Murray as a pass rusher and perhaps White in some more safety looks? Staley’s use of linebackers with the Rams certainly differed from what Bradley wanted to do most of the time. There probably won’t be so much emphasis on one player as the “green dot” linebacker.
Sixth-round pick Nick Niemann will need to play on defense at points just due to a slight lack of depth, but he’s capable of it. His value on special teams will be the primary focus for 2021 as I see it. If he can match about 70% of Tranquill’s former rookie special teams production, it would be a successful season.
Swinton noted that UDFA Amen Ogbongbemiga has impressed him on special teams. He’s one of the two or three UDFAs that have a realistic chance of making the team. Ogbongbemiga has some quick moves at the beginning of plays that can come in handy as well. Being able to read opposing offenses will help.