Detroit Lions, NFC North positional preview: Linebacker

Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bears

Key returning players: Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, Nick KwiatkoskiJoel Iyiegbuniwe

New Additions: None

Key Losses: None

The Chicago Bears have a storied legacy at the linebacker position, with names like Dick ButkusBrian Urlacher, Mike Singletary and Lance Briggs representing some of the best defensive players of their respective generations. The Bears are hoping that second year stud Roquan Smith can approach that list while their Super Bowl window remains ajar.

After a excellent college career at Georgia, Smith was the Bears’ first round pick in 2018 at number six overall. Despite some natural growing pains and rookie missteps in year one, he has all the makings of an A-list middle linebacker. He is very good in coverage, and even chipped in with five sacks last year. He is a consummate leader and figures to make a big jump in year two.

Veteran Danny Trevathan returns for year three in Chicago. Trevathan has never put up big numbers in any one category, but he is reliable, and he finally played in all 16 games in 2018 after missing 11 games in his first two years in Chicago. The Bears are better with him on the field.

The Bears’ deep and gifted secondary, along with their rugged front line, should make it relatively easy for new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to switch to nickel or dime packages with regularity. This will often result in two middle linebacker sets, with Smith and Trevathan generally getting the call.

The third inside linebacker role will be filled again by Nick Kwiatkoski, who is entering his third year in Chicago. He has yet to make much of an impression in the NFL, and could receive some competition from special teamer Joel Iyiegbuniwe, who will be looking for a bigger role in 2019.

With all the playmakers surrounding them, the Bears linebackers have the luxury of doing the little things and providing a solid base in the middle of the defense. Smith though, seems like a star in the making and another step from him could mean trouble for the rest of the NFC North. After helping surrender the third fewest yards in the NFL last season, the Bears linebacking corps could help them be even more dominant this year.

Next. Ranking every Lions team from the last 25 years. dark

Which NFC North team do you think has the best group of linebackers? Let us know in the comments section below.