The AFC East Dream Team roster is continuing to take shape and the linebacking corps, the big time playmakers of the 3-4 defense, are ready to buckle up their chin straps and wreak havoc on offenses across the NFL. The inside linebackers were chosen without much disagreement, but there was plenty of debate to fill outside linebacker slots. You’ll notice that there isn’t a single Patriot in the linebacking corps, which highlights some of the issues the Pats’ defense has. However, there certainly could have been a familiar face inserted at inside linebacker: Jerod Mayo. Mayo is unquestionably on the rise and had over 100 tackles despite missing time due to a knee injury. He continued to play through that injury and was selected in just his second year to be a defensive captain. That being said, you can’t really argue against the players that were chosen to fill those linebacker slots. Follow the jump to see who made the cut.
The newest Miami Dolphin, Karlos Dansby, mans the first inside linebacker slot on the AFC BEast Dream Team. Dansby made a name for himself in Arizona with the Cardinals and became one of the hottest free agents this past offseason. Miami made a splash and signed the linebacker to a fat new contract in hopes that he can continue his playmaking ways in the East.
Taking the other inside linebacker slot is the quiet but steady David Harris from the New York Jets. You don’t hear much about Harris but he is a steady playmaker for the Jets defense and has solid numbers to back up his demands for a contract extension. Last season, Harris totaled 127 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions.
Outside linebackers is the primary pass-rushing position in the 3-4 defense, akin to the defensive ends in 4-3 defenses. Aaron Schobel from the Buffalo Bills takes the first outside linebacker spot on the AFC BEast defense. Schobel is making the transition this season to outside linebacker after playing defensive end for most of his career, but his production cannot be ignored. Last season, Schobel had 56 tackles, 10 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and an interception. Pats fans should be familiar with Schobel, as he has been a thorn in Tom Brady’s side for years.
The final linebacker spot on the other side of the defense is the Jets’ Calvin Pace, their prized free agent from last year’s offseason. Pace joined the Jets from the Arizona Cardinals and continued making plays, totaling 55 tackles, 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles.