Linebacker Burning Questions Heading Into OTAs

Posted Apr 12, 2016

Intro: We are less than a week away from the Colts beginning their 2016 offseason program. Where do the questions start in the linebacker group this season?

INDIANAPOLIS – April on the calendar means work is about to start back up for the Indianapolis Colts.

With the team’s offseason program commencing on April 18, we start our burning question series.

This week, will take a look at the “Burning Questions” among the linebackers entering 2016.

Here’s a look at the linebacker questions heading into the offseason program:

  • Who starts next to D’Qwell Jackson in 2016?

Of the 11 starting spots on defense, this is certainly the most up in the air position as we enter the offseason program.

Jerrell Freeman’s departure has opened up a starting spot previously occupied for the past four years.

D’Qwell Jackson is looking for a running mate next to him at inside linebacker.

Chuck Pagano has mentioned five potential candidates
, but two stand out based off their past starting experience.

Nate Irving battled ACL recovery last season, after he tore it with Denver midway through the 2014 season.

With the Broncos, Irving started on one of the best defenses in the NFL.

If he can return to full health, Irving could see his playing time rise exponentially after starting just two games in Indy last season.

Sio Moore is the other name to watch.

Moore started 22 games in two seasons with the Raiders. The Colts acquired Moore via trade just prior to last season.

: D’Qwell Jackson has started 80 straight games, tied for the fourth highest among any NFL linebacker.

  • Who will join Robert Mathis in the pass rushing group this season?

Robert Mathis led the Colts in sacks last season.

That statement isn’t surprising when he’s also the franchise’s all-time sack leader.

It is quite impressive though when you consider Mathis didn’t become a full-time starter until Week Seven of last season.

Mathis had 7.0 sacks in 2015 and he’s going to look for some help off the edge.

Erik Walden (3.0) and Trent Cole (3.0) are returning, but the Colts are clearly in the market for some youth to develop behind the trio of veterans.

With these three all north of 30 years old, the Colts haven’t hesitated from their want to add a pass rusher in the draft.

That’s where the likely name will have to come to round out this threesome in 2016.

: The 118.0 career sacks for Robert Mathis are the most in Colts’ franchise history.

  • Will the Colts draft both an outside and inside linebacker later this month?

Anyone watching the Super Bowl saw the importance.

Outside of that franchise quarterback, a disruptive pass rusher has to be the most coveted position in the NFL nowadays.

The Colts are looking for their next one and drafting some sort of edge presence is extremely likely with one of their six draft picks.

From a numbers standpoint, taking an inside linebacker isn’t a must for the Colts.

But it’s a definite possibility.

Remember, D’Qwell Jackson turns 33 this season.

If the Colts are set on an inside guy learning behind Jackson in the draft (or even starting next to him, i.e. Alabama’s Reggie Ragland), they aren’t going to turn their heads too far away.

STAT TO NOTE: D’Qwell Jackson finished second in the NFL in tackles last season with 150.

ICYMI: Quarterback Burning Questions

ICYMI: Running Back Burning Questions

ICYMI: Wide Receiver/Tight End Burning Questions

ICYMI: Offensive Line Burning Questions

ICYMI: Defensive Line Burning Questions

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