For the Detroit Lions, there are still a lot of questions at linebacker. This little-known player could be one of the answers.
A true Detroit Lions fan would know that one of the biggest positional weaknesses on last years’ roster was linebacker. Injuries, players lining up in new positions and even lack of talent all played a part in the struggles they faced all season. Out of all the moves made this offseason to help combat this problem, the one addition that seems to elude everyone’s attention is Nick Bellore.
This Central Michigan alum is not well-known to the average football fan. The signing of Bellore could turn out to be a major steal.
He spent his first four seasons with the New York Jets and another two with the San Francisco 49ers. The seven-year veteran never started a game until injuries forced him in the lineup this past season.
After compiling 10 starts in 14 games, he logged 83 tackles, five passes defended, 1.0 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The lack of supporting cast didn’t stop him from making plays.
Bellore is the only linebacker on the Lions roster with a turnover and/or sack in the NFL last season. Let that sink in.
A linebacking core full of mediocrity and youth means it shouldn’t be hard for Bellore to get a fair shot at making this roster. The idea of him earning a starting role isn’t so far-fetched.
Tahir Whitehead is nursing a bad knee and was absent during OTAs. Rookie Jarrad Davis missed four games last season with an ankle injury along with fellow rookie Jalen Reeves-Maybin playing just four games due to an injured shoulder. Both are entering the NFL with extensive injury histories.
Based on his size, 6-foot-1, 250 pounds, he is the biggest linebacker on the Lions’ current roster. The former undrafted free agent brings phenomenal special teams capabilities and fits best at middle and strongside linebacker.
The Lions have plans for their players but poor play and injuries could change that instantly. Regardless of how much they want someone to play, all the linebacker spots are open. Everyone has to earn their spot, so Bellore has a shot just like anyone else.
Known for his hard collisions, it comes as no surprise that he is an excellent special teamer. Versatility is paramount to help your team win. Bellore can do it in all three phases of the game, even adding value as a fullback on offense.
"“A special-teams ace the past four years, Bellore earned himself a starting role in Week 5 due to NaVorro Bowman’s injury,” wrote John Kosko for Pro Football Focus. “Bellore didn’t exactly light it up in replacing Bowman but considering the 49ers’ DL was atrocious in 2016, having better players up front could help the former undrafted free agent from Central Michigan. Considering Bellore’s excellent special teams play his career, Bellore will be targeted if only for that ability”."
Signing a potential starter for only $855,000 is a bargain. The Lions have a low risk, high reward player that should really throw people for a loop when he hits the field. Just watch, Detroit fans will be pleasantly surprised by Nick Bellore.