After having a career-year at the middle linebacker position, the Detroit Lions are moving veteran Tahir Whitehead to the weakside. And he’s fine with it.
One of the Detroit Lions weakest positional groups from last season was their linebacker corps. Despite this, middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead still posted a career-high in tackles. A whopping 132 total tackles to be exact. After that kind of production, why would you ever want to move him?
Well, there are two reasons. One is named Jarrad Davis. And the other is the fact those numbers are deceiving.
First, the Lions elected to use their first round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft on the Florida linebacker, 21st overall. The investment in the 6-foot-1, 238 pound middle linebacker makes Davis an instant starter in Detroit. Thus Whitehead must move if he wants to be a starter.
Second, despite posting a career-high in tackles, Whitehead actually had his worst season as a professional according to the football analytic website Pro Football Focus. For 2016, PFF ranked the five-year veteran 86th among linebackers in overall grade (38.0) due to posting career-lows as a run defender (45.6) and in coverage (42.5).
In fact, they believe the 27-year old linebacker had his best season in 2015 when he was alternating between the MIKE and WILL positions. And according to the player himself, he’s perfectly fine moving wherever the Lions want him.
"“You go through an adjustment period,” Whitehead told the Detroit Free Press. “But, at the end of the day, I know all the positions and I’ve played them all, so really to change positions is not that big of a deal. If they want Jarrad to play MIKE, I’ll play WILL. I’ll go out there and make the best of playing WILL.”"
Despite the gaudy numbers, moving Tahir Whitehead back to weakside linebacker seems to be a win-win for all involved. It not only moves the veteran to a position he is better suited to play, but it opens up the door for first rounder Jarrad Davis to wreak havoc in the middle of the Detroit Lions’ defense.