2015 Detroit Lions Roster Analysis: Linebackers

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Oct 12, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead (59) is tackled by Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata (44) after his interception during the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

No. 59 Tahir Whitehead

Age: 25

Height: 6-foot-2

College: Temple

Speaking of underrated — Tahir Whitehead probably deserves a little more respect as well. After playing well as a plug-in player in Stephen Tulloch’s absence, Whitehead has been hard at work again this offseason in hopes of improving his game at even starting again in 2015.

What he’s done in the past – Tahir Whitehead is a former fifth-round pick of the Detroit Lions. He spent the beginning contributing on special teams, and actually didn’t take a defensive snap for the first two seasons. Yet in his first start, against the New York Jets in Week 4, he racked up 12 tackles.

What he needs to do moving forward – Despite the positive vibes that originated from Whitehead’s play in 2015 there were a few things he could work on to get better.

Despite grading out positively against the run by Pro Football Focus, Whitehead didn’t like the way he looked when reviewing his 2014 cut-ups. He decided the most important thing he could do this offseason was get bigger.

“Watching back last season, sometimes in the run game, I wasn’t as sturdy as I could have been. I bulked up a bit to be more stout against the run.” – Whitehead

At the end of last year, Whitehead weighed 238 pounds. In the several months since, he’s packed on seven pounds to his already chiseled frame. Beyond adding mass, he put an emphasis on maintaining his speed, which he believes is one of his most important attributes.

With Tulloch primed and ready to re-claim his starting role as the teams middle linebacker, Whitehead has shifted his attention to the strong side, or SAM linebacker spot. Consensus has now become that a formidable position battle may be brewing between Whitehead and sophomore Kyle Van Noy.

Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Like Tulloch, Van Noy is coming off a year that he missed a large amount of time due to injury. Although now believed to be fully recovered, there is still the learning curve present for the former BYU standout due to his lost time in his rookie season.

It’s hard to say who will win this position battle at this juncture in the offseason, but it certainly appears that Tahir Whitehead is motivated and ready to go to battle.

Next: Stephen Tulloch