When the Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley to a three-year contract, it was a move in the right direction. A young player that would immediately provide depth in the middle, Brinkley brings a nasty mean streak to an up and coming Cardinals defense. And although the Cardinals recently brought back linebacker Karlos Dansby, Brinkley is younger, faster, and stronger. The former South Carolina Gamecock will be a nice compliment to Daryl Washington and add a physical presence that is unmatched, as Brinkley can lay the wood on just about anyone.
However, Brinkley will need to show the coaching staff he is starter worthy, considering the Cardinals just drafted second-round linebacker Kevin Minter. The LSU product is also tough, physical, and aggressive, so it will be interesting to see which of these two linebackers wins out, as training camp and OTA’s are set to begin.
Aside from entering a camp battle with Minter and Dansby, Brinkley will have to adopt to a new look Cardinals defense led by Todd Bowles. The former Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach and interim defensive coordinator, Bowles will intall a 3-4 defense. This bodes well for Brinkley as he has a rare combination of speed and power. A player that plays downhill, Brinkley will rack up tackles like no one’s business. In 2012, the former fifth-round pick had a career season with the Minnesota Vikings as he registered 63 solo tackles and three forced fumbles. A drastic improvement over his previous two seasons as he had a combined 45 tackles, the Cardinals catch a break as they sign a player in the prime of his career.
Whether Brinkley starts or not remains to be seen, but if I had to take a guess, I would say that not only will Brinkley start but he will also turn some heads doing it.