Re-Sign Or Rebuild: Will Tahir Whitehead Return In 2018?

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With New Head Coach Matt Patricia Coming In, Does He See Value In Tahir Whitehead?

One of the Detroit Lions that fans have a love/hate relationship with. While starting tight end Eric Ebron has it locked down on offense, starting outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead has it on defense. Whitehead is a mixed bag when it comes to playing on defense. His tackling skills are there, but his coverage skills are where he gets hurt.

One of the biggest questions coming into the 2018 season with a new head coach is how will he change up the defense? Detroit runs a 4-3 type of defense, could they keep it the same, change to a 3-4, or something else? Depending on what kind of defense the Lions run, jobs on that side of the ball may be limited, or unchanged, but for now, we will assume the Lions stick to a 4-3 defense.

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Tahir Whitehead Is A Double-Edged Sword

When it comes to the linebacker position, there are many things you have to know how to do. Cover a tight end, a running back, possibly a wide receiver, blitz to the quarterback, rush to the running back between the tackles or the outside, or read the QB’s  eyes and watch for any option plays, and play action.

Whitehead can do some well, others not so well. While he does have 19 career pass deflections and four interceptions, Whitehead still has issues in pass coverage, no matter who he is up against. Tackling is something he does well though, and while he went down from 99 to 78 tackles in 2017, that was mostly because of rookie Jarrad Davis taking over the starting middle linebacker role and Whitehead was asked to be outside, something he is better at.

Keeping Whitehead won’t be expensive, but if the team can find somebody better at the position, he might be letting go. If the team can’t find any replacements, then keeping him wouldn’t be a horrible option. Detroit has the money too, but other players like defensive end Ziggy Ansah may need to get paid over Whitehead.

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Re-Sign Or Rebuild Tahir Whitehead?

Re-sign. The upcoming free agent class doesn’t have many interesting players and with the main focus being the defensive line in the upcoming draft, Detroit shouldn’t pass up on the talent coming in to accommodate with the linebacker spot that can be still ok with Whitehead returning. Keeping Whitehead won’t hurt this team, but it won’t progress this unit forwards much either.

If Detroit looks past Whitehead and figures free agency will be a good place to find a replacement, three players they could look at are Zach Brown from the Washington Redskins, Paul Posluszny from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Nigel Bradham from the Philidelphia Eagles.

The NFL draft may be a better place for the Lions to find a linebacker, but even if they keep Whitehead, they could still draft one for depth as linebackers Paul Worrilow and Nick Bellore are upcoming free agents. Three linebackers that the Lions could target are Lorenzo Carter from Georgia, Jerome Baker from Ohio State, and Tre Williams from Auburn.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BKnappBlogs, find me on Reddit at /u/sportsguy4life and leave me your thoughts on the Detroit Lions subreddit.

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About the Author

Brandon Knapp
Brandon Knapp is a senior at Central Michigan University, majoring in Journalism, minoring in Sports Management. He was born and raised in the city of Marysville, MI. He also writes for and covers the Michigan Wolverines Football team (his other love). Brandon also enjoys watching the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers.