Outside Linebacker: Jarvis Jones, Audie Cole, Chad Greenway, Aaron Williams, Deandre Levy
Inside Linebacker: Rey Maualuga, Perry Riley, Sio Moore
Linebackers: Shayne Skov, Khaseem Greene, James Laurinaitis, Arthur Brown, Aaron Curry, Brandon Spikes
Joe: Shayne Skov was the first linebacker I chose, and it provides me with an actual solid linebacker instead of just a random name that I have to hope for the best from. He was a very good linebacker for Stanford, but has never quite been able to make it as an active NFL player. The XFL is just what he needs.
Khaseem Greene is a guy who I really liked coming out of Rutgers. He played a couple years with the Bears before bouncing around various practice squads. It isn’t exciting, but he should be able to provide the team with competent linebacking and special teams play.
James Laurinaitis is my most exciting pick. He recently retired from the NFL, but considering his father is Road Warrior Animal, I feel like he could be convinced to give the XFL a go. And there’s a good chance he would wear facepaint during the game and at least keep the Zubaz on for warmups.
Arthur Brown is a guy that I would still legitimately be excited about if the Chicago Bears signed him. I do not understand how this guy isn’t at least a solid NFL linebacker. He was a five-star recruit who played well at Miami before transferring to Kansas State and becoming a first-team All-American. He then became a second round pick by the Baltimore Ravens, a team known for making smart draft choices, and then he just never found his footing in the NFL. The guy was a tackling machine, and I think he can cause some havoc in the XFL.
Aaron Curry was an even more highly touted linebacker coming out of Wake Forest. He was a first-team All-American and a Butkus Award winner which was enough for him to become the fourth overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks. Despite being considered the safest pick in the draft, he put together okay numbers but never made an impact and was probably harmed by the fact that he had so much hype around him. He retired in 2013, but he’s currently coaching football, so I think he still has enough of an itch to join the XFL.
Finally, I picked up Brandon Spikes. He was a two-time consensus All-American along with helping Florida win two national championships. Once he reached the NFL, he had some struggles with injuries, but what better way to avoid injuries than playing a brand of football with absolutely zero safety precautions?
Jonah: Jarvis Jones was a first round pick in 2013 so he’s young and has all the physical attributes you want. He played four decent years in the NFL showing flashes of his ability but never fully living up to it. He had a wrist injury a few years ago, but that’s nothing to worry about.
Audie Cole can play either outside or inside, so that’s nice to have. He’s another former Viking I got to watch play for a few years. He was even a starter on their team for a few years. He was never a world beater, but made a number of good plays and was always in good position. Frankly, I was surprised he was unsigned but I’ll take him at one of my linebacker positions.
Chad Greenway is an absolute stud as even Joe can attest. I don’t know if I can sum it up better than a tee shirt I once saw that said “Guns Don’t Kill People, Chad Greenway Kills People”. He retired this year, but it felt like he was a little forced out and I know he can still play. He’s an incredibly smart football player and great tackler even if he has lost a step. He’s a perfect running down linebacker.
Aaron Williams is a guy who can play linebacker or safety. He’s a little on the smaller side obviously, but that also makes him fast. He would be great on passing downs covering tight ends or as a backup safety.
Deandre Levy was an All Pro in 2014 and is still 30 years old. There’s plenty of time left for him to recover from the past couple of years of injuries. Injuries heal, especially these days so he should be fresh and ready to go. If he’s fully healthy he’s probably a starter.
Rey Maualuga is a guy I was surprised to see is a free agent. He played eight good years of football for the Bengals and it looks like he got released because he shoved a guy. If that’s the worst thing you did while on the Bengals, then you’re a pretty good guy.
Perry Riley started 11 games for the Raiders in 2016 and clearly his absence is why their defense was so horrible this year. He’s 29, played seven years in the NFL and played defense for LSU including as a true freshman on their National Championship team.
Sio Moore is 27 and played five years in the NFL. He is physically skilled and runs a 40 fast enough to keep up with tight ends in coverage. He had over 200 tackles in the NFL and was an all rookie in 2013. He’s got some football left in him and will be a solid contributor.
Joe: I like the picks of Maualuga, Jones, Levy, and especially Greenway. Maualuga still can play a decent linebacker. Jones is a hustle guy that is definitely worthy of being a good XFL player. Levy probably won’t be healthy enough to play, but it’s definitely worth the flier. And Greenway is not good at football anymore, but he’s totally awesome, so I can’t fault you for that.
The other three are speed guys who, although are very nice to have in Madden, tend to work less well in the real world.
Jonah: I love my linebackers and perhaps you didn’t read that shirt I saw in Kansas while grabbing beer from a gas station before my first and only NASCAR race, guns don’t kill people Chad Greenway kills people. Also, the speed guys are important for passing downs, there’s not a lot of teams that have three linebackers who play all three downs. That being said, your linebackers picks are very good too. I actually thought Arthur Brown was still in the NFL playing well. I’m a huge fan. Most of your other guys are talented linebackers, I’m very impressed with your linebacker scouting. I don’t like Curry nearly as much as you do. He didn’t play that well in the NFL and clearly has some issues. There was something behind his sudden trade from Seattle and I just don’t think he has it. That being said, your other linebackers are good enough that it doesn’t really matter.
That’s it for the linebackers. Next time, we start our secondary picks with each team’s cornerbacks.