Zach Brown, ILB
With the addition of Jordan Hicks and Haason Reddick‘s likely move to inside linebacker, you’d think the Cardinals would be set at the position. But, Hicks’ injury history and Reddick’s inconsistent play along with a lack of depth at the position give me concern for their outlook at inside linebacker.
Cue recently released linebacker Zach Brown — an impact player for the Washington Redskins over the past two seasons.
Brown was likely released due to a $5.75 million cap hit, but at 29-years-old, he’s far from his decline. A Pro Football Focus favorite, Brown finished the year with an 89.2 grade, good for third in the NFL amongst eligible linebackers. He’s one of the best run defenders in the NFL, and their grading system reflects that as he finished 2018 with an 84.2 run defense grade and pilled up 45 run stops.
Per Pro Football Focus, Brown had a monumental improvement in pass coverage in 2018 from his previous seasons. He only allowed 35 catches on 45 catches and 283 yards. His pass defense grade finished as seventh out of all off-ball linebackers as well.
For the Cardinals, adding Zach Brown to start alongside Jordan Hicks could pay dividends for a run defense that was among the leagues worst in 2018. Brown could either serve as a stopgap while Reddick develops or as his replacement. Simply put, he would be a significant improvement over any inside linebacker on the roster not named Jordan Hicks.