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Georgia Tech Football: Way-too-Early Look at 2016 - The Linebackers

Today, we look at a group that could stand to be improved.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Last Season

Georgia Tech's linebackers missed Quayshawn Nealy this year. A lot. Losing Nealy, the Yellow Jackets lost their best coverage linebacker and they very sorely missed him this year.

The linebackers weren't all bad though. PJ Davis was still very solid, leading the team with 77 tackles (45 solo), while also adding 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble.

Tyler Marcordes wasn't bad either. He had 51 tackles (34 solo), 6.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks and two forced fumbles.

The problem with these two guys wasn't that they weren't good at tackling; they were. The problem was that they weren't that great in coverage.

Tech also had a hole at linebacker for a good chunk of the season. Davis and Marcordes were two of the starters, but for a while, it was more linebacker-by-committee in the final spot. By the end of the season, though, that spot was filled by true freshman Brant Mitchell, who finished with 36 tackles (25 solo), 2.5 TFL, 1.0 sack and two interceptions, including a 32-yard pick-six against Virginia Tech.

Who's Gone?

The main player that is gone from the linebackers is Marcordes. Though he came in as a 3-4 rush linebacker under Al Groh, Marcordes ended up being a decent strongside linebacker for us, especially this year.

The other two players that are gone are Rusty Scott and Domonique Noble. Scott was a walk-on backup who only played a handful of snaps during his career. Noble is a bigger loss, though. Noble began his career as a defensive back and then moved to the Nickel when Ted Roof decided to move to the 4-2-5 defense. This past year, Roof decided to get him to bulk up and move to linebacker. He was decent, racking up 19 tackles (11 solo) and 0.5 TFL.

Who's New?

The Yellow Jackets currently have two linebackers committed to play for them. The first is Emmanuel Bridges, who is already enrolled at Georgia Tech. Jakob Brashear is the other one. Both are three-star recruits. I think Bridges will likely end up on the strong side (think of as more of a run stopper), but Brashear will definitely end up on the weak side (think of more as a coverage guy).

In addition to these two guys, Tech also had two guys at linebacker redshirt in David Curry and Tyler Cooksey. Both of them profile best as weak side guys.

Depth Chart Breakdown

Position First String Second String
Strongside Linebacker PJ Davis Vic Alexander
Inside Linebacker Brant Mitchell Tre' Jackson
Weakside Linebacker Tyler Cooksey OR
David Curry OR
Terrell Lewis
Chase Alford

For this depth chart, we're looking at Tech's base 4-3 set. The only competition I anticipate here is weakside linebacker. Technically, this is where PJ Davis played last year, but I think he's a better fit on the strongside, so I went ahead and moved him over.

As for the competitors here, we've only actually seen Terrell Lewis play, though it was fairly limited. All three of these guys are pretty talented, but I think Cooksey will be the standout here, with Curry right behind him. Curry has somewhat of an advantage in coverage, being a former defensive back, but I think Cooksey is more of an all-around player which will get him the job.

Position First String Second String
Strongside Linebacker PJ Davis Vic Alexander
Tre' Jackson
Weakside Linebacker Brant Mitchell OR
Tyler Cooksey OR
David Curry OR
Terrell Lewis
Chase Alford

In this depth chart, we're looking at situations where Tech breaks out the 4-2-5. Davis will be the obvious guy there, but the other spot is up for grabs. I get the feeling that it will most likely end up being either Mitchell or Cooksey, but if they want a guy that is more of a cover guy than anything else, we could see Curry get the call, though I also think he's a candidate for the Nickel position in this set.