Projected Starters: Mike Peterson, Curtis Lofton, Stephen Nicholas.
As opposed to years past, Atlanta finally has some flexibility in their linebacking group. Peterson is a veteran that will play outside, but can substitute in the middle if need be. Lofton has the look of a 10-year starter in middle after a successful 2008 campaign. Nicholas is a wildcard – I could see any of the reserves getting time in the starting lineup at this point in the off-season.
Reserves: Spencer Adkins, Tony Gilbert, Robert James, Coy Wire.
Adkins could be the steal of the draft. He’s from Miami, great speed and big-play potential, but fell with his height (under 6-feet) and attitude. James is essentially a rookie again after his 2008 season was derailed with injury. Wire got plenty of playing time in 2008 with Boley struggling and Brooking having to man the middle most of the season. Ideally Wire and Adkins would focus on special teams because that would mean the projected starting trio is playing well and keeping them on the sidelines. Depth is a great thing on defense and Atlanta looks to have plenty at the linbacking position in 2009.