So what in the hell is a Ted Linebacker? I threw that into Google and came out with a reference page that didn’t even mention the position, and link to another page that took me back to the page that didn’t mention the position, and then the "Niners Nation" piece that was linked here on AP not too long ago (although all the searching in the world, or at least 5 minutes of it, couldn’t find that damn link) that I derived the name Ted from. In fact, neither profootballfocus.com nor footballoutsiders.com mentioned it either. I was stumped, so I just decided to reread the NN piece to see what I could find out. After noticing the mention of the "Fairbank-Bulloughs" system, I did a quick wiki search and, AHA! I discovered that "Ted" is also, and maybe more commonly, known as a "Jack" linebacker, which I could find several descriptions of.
A Ted or Jack, or, if you are Field Yates tweeting, a T/J, linebacker seems to be about as glamorous of a job as a fullback. In fact, let’s think of him as exactly that. We want the defensive equivalent of Tony Richardson. An elite T/J is hardworking (ignoring semi-obvious racial joke there), will not get many stats at all, and is willing to completely sacrifice his body for the glory of the man standing behind him (in the Chiefs case that would be DJ, Arenas, or Berry). Sure he will have to be able to drop in to coverage, and might blitz once or twice a season, but that will be more of just trying to catch the QB not paying attention. Coaches and GMs have been known to fill this position with college defensive ends that just aren’t big enough and not fast enough to be an OLB.
It is no secret that the Chiefs have a very solid line backing corps. In fact, most of us would put up three of our four guys (Houston, Hali, and Johnson) against the best in the history of the game, and be very satisfied. Side bar here for a second, I had a dream the other night that in our final game at Denver, Houston had 7 sacks in the first half, and came back out for the second wearing #58. Anybody else think that would be just insanely awesome? Not just to see Manning on the ground that many times, but to see Elway’s face on the sidelines… Anyways, back to the topic. So we know we have three great linebackers, and all we need is that fourth to make things perfect.
Currently on our roster we have Belcher, Siler, Sheffield, and perhaps even Studie that could fill the hole. Most of us have seen Studie’s ceiling, which is solid depth, but maybe not quite enough for perfection. Siler and Sheffield just can’t seem to avoid the freak injuries. Belcher? Well he is the big dilemma. He isn’t quite there yet, but has shown improvement every year. So there is a chance he could be that guy, but we just don’t know yet. This uncertainty is what creates the buzz to go after an ILB with our 1st.
Nfl.com lists the top 5 ILBs in the draft as Kuechly, Hightower, Kendricks, Robinson, and Spence. Most mocks only have Kuechly and Hightower going in the first round, but I will look at all 5. The main things to look at are physical strength, mental flexibility, and selflessness (if I can find indicators of such). I will admit quite readily that Kuechly just does not fit the profile at all. His main strengths are his instincts and his chasing and tackling ability. I am sure Kuechly will make a great addition to some team, but he just borders on what we are asking DJ to do, and nobody wants to go back to being the unheralded once you get a bite of the big show, just ask Peyton Hillis. So immediately Kuechly is out, sorry folks.
Next up is Hightower. Ironically enough one of his weaknesses listed is that he is too big, and isn’t quick enough to chase down the scatbacks. However he is capable of engaging offensive linemen, which tells you we are on the right track. A history of playing DE (remember what I said above?) is another hint. Throw in that he was the T/J for Rolondo McClain in 2008, and we know that Pioli has gotten some of his (quite precious) game tape at the position. Throw in that he is looked at to be taken at picks 10-15, and we know that picking him will give us solid value. Kendricks is better suited to a MLB in a 4-3, Robinson and Spence are more of Sam/OLB prospects, and as none of them are expected to be taken very early, they are out. It’s fairly easy to see that Hightower is the best choice for the Chiefs. Considering we might even be able to trade down and still get him, while grabbing an extra pick makes him even more enticing.