A day-by-day Broncos player breakdown is something we've been doing since our days at BroncoTalk nearly a decade ago. This year the tradition continues as we look at the Denver Broncos roster heading into the 2015 season in our 90-in-90 series.
Name: Lamin Barrow
Position: Inside Linebacker
Height: 6'1 Weight: 237
Age: 24 Experience: 2 College: LSU
For the longest time, the Denver Broncos have been on a continuous search for their man in the middle ever since Al Wilson decided to hang up his cleats. Nate Webster, Niko Koutouvides, Stewart Bradley, Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving — just a few names of players who have made their way through the Broncos linebacking ranks, but none of them were a solution to the revolving door the Broncos have had the position for well over a decade.
Though the tides have started to turn and after years of searching, the team has endured some success with players who have made the transition to the inside. When Jack Del Rio was the defensive coordinator, there wasn't a doubt that his experience as a linebacker during his playing days helped him be a quality mentor for young players on the squad. A few years ago, nobody would have expected Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall to become some of the most efficient linebackers in the NFL. Their quality play has been a blessing in disguise for a franchise that has never been able to find their next Wilson.
Even with their caliber of play, numerous injuries to Trevathan and Marshall over the course of their young careers have been a cause of concern for the team. Both players are scheduled to be free agents (Trevathan, UFA and Marshalll, RFA) at the end of this season. It is unknown whether or not both players will receive long-term deals to stay in Denver past their original contracts.
How will their injury history factor in? Will they perform adequately in a 3-4 defense? Furthermore, will there be enough money to go around given the number of players the Broncos have hitting the market next spring.
When more questions than answers are present, a back-up plan is necessary. That is why the Broncos front office was smart to invest a selection in Lamin Barrow, who has the potential to be a successful starter in the NFL.
Off his 2014 performance alone one wouldn't expect much from the former Tiger. He was active in every game and earned one start. However, the wealth of his experience on the field came on special teams where he recorded nine tackles over the course of the year. The statistics aren't mind-blowing, but it is important to keep realistic expectations for a player drafted in the fifth-round that was just getting acclimated to the NFL. It may not be this year, but I expect Barrow to be an important player for the Broncos defense in the near future.
The good: Highly athletic player who had one of the best 40 times amongst all linebackers in the 2014 draft class. Two-year starter at LSU who amassed 195 tackles (13 for loss), 1.5 sacks and seven passes defended with the Tigers. Excellent range and has the ability to move sideline to sideline. Good instincts and has above-average pass defending skills. High football character and is dedicated to improving his game spending time by analyzing tape and is regarded as a weight room junkie. Considered to be a better fit for the 3-4 system, as opposed to the 4-3 the Broncos had under Jack Del Rio.
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The bad: Lacks functional strength and needs to continue his diligence in the weight room to fill out his frame. Has been known to be extremely aggressive on the gridiron, often overpursuing run plays and action on the field. Coupled with the aforementioned, he is more of a read-and-react defender and doesn't play downhill as well as he should. A majority of tackling production in college came further down the field rather than near the line of scrimmage. Tackling form needs work and must use more authority in taking down ball carriers instead of dragging them down.
Quotable: "He’s a tough guy and a good kid. He can play ‘Mike’ or ‘Will.’ He’s got good speed, can run and has good instincts. He’s going to bring great competition to the linebacker group." — John Elway in regard to the selection of Lamin Barrow
Status: Barrow is a player who has the traits necessary to become a starter in the NFL. Until he improves upon some of his deficiencies, he will likely remain a special team player and sub-package defender. His future seems bright, as most his issues are certainly correctable. Nevertheless, he is an intelligent football player willing to put in extra time to perfect his craft. With Trevathan and Marshall expect to recover and start the season, Barrow will be competing amongst the likes of Todd Davis and Steven Johnson for a reserve role. I expect all five to make the roster, with teammate and 2014 draft pick Corey Nelson being the odd man out.