Atlanta Firebirds

Joplo Bartu – 9

Armonty Bryant – 8aa

Rennie Curran – 7

Jayson DiManche – 6aa

Amario Herrera – 6a

A.J. Klein – 8aa

Cameron Lynch – 6aa

Phillip Steward – 8

Projected Starters
OLB: Joplo Bartu
MLB: A.J. Klein
OLB: Armonty Bryant

Summary: Despite dealing their best linebacker in Danny Trevathan to the Philadelphia Bulldogs in exchange for Alfred Morris to boost the run game Atlanta still fields an impressive starting linebacker corps. Joplo Bartu is a bit overrated after coming off a 40 tackle season, but could have a more successful 2016 season being moved outside and at middle linebacker A.J. Klein looks to be the defenses field general after coming off a very impressive 2015 season. All eyes will be on Armonty Bryant who will try to replace Trevathan after having a solid season as a sub recording four sacks and 48 tackles. Bryant is built more for the role of an outside ‘backer in the 3-4 at 265lbs., but should provide the Firebirds with plenty of scheme versatility.

Carolina Generals

Travis Hughes – 6a

Norkeithus Otis – 6a

Summary: The Generals still continue to build their roster having only yet added a pair of UNC products.

Charleston Dragons

Bryon Archambault – 6a

Ray-Ray Armstrong – 8

Miles Burris – 8

Jake Doughty – 6aa

Kyle Emmanuel – 7aa

Cameron Lawrence – 7a

Andy Mulumba – 7a

Craig Roh – 7aa

Brandon Spikes – 10

Andy Studebaker – 7

Zach Vigil – 7aa

Chris White – 7d

Aston Whiteside – 7aa

Projected Starters
OLB: Ray-Ray Armstrong
MLB: Brandon Spikes
MLB: Miles Burris
OLB: Kyle Emmanuel

Summary: Charleston owner Colin Durina looks to bring the 3-4 defense to the expansion Dragons this year, but lacks a man opposite of Brandon Spikes who looks suitable for the starting position on the inside. Ray-Ray Armstrong and Kyle Emmanuel are the best quality players on the outside, but are far from being the best starting options. Armstrong is vastly undersized at 220lbs. and will be a vulnerability at setting the edge while Emmanuel is a rookie that will have a lot of learning on the fly. Some players that may be rotating on the outside are Aston Whiteside and Craig Roh who possess tremendous potential and could end up starters before the end of the season.

Columbus Explorers 

Jason Ankrah – 6aa

Brian Brikowski – 6aa

Justin Cole – 6aa

Kyler Elsworth – 7a

L.J. Fort – 7

Thaddeus Gibson – 6aa

Christian Jones – 8aa

Thomas Keiser – 8

Jake Knott – 6a

Jeff Luc – 6aa

John Simon – 9a$

Scott Solomon – 7a

Projected Starters 
OLB: Thomas Keiser
MLB: Kyler Elsworth
MLB: Christian Jones
OLB: John Simon

Summary: Columbus had standout years from Thomas Keiser and John Simon last season with Keiser leading the team in sacks with eight and Simon leading the team with 114 tackles. Keiser and Simon look to have finally given Columbus the quality outside linebackers they’ve been searching for over the past few years. Inside, Christian Jones is a young, sideline-to-sideline player that should have a great comeback year after being injured last year and is paired with an interesting, but very undersized up-and-comer in Kyler Elsworth.

Dallas Six-Shooters

Zaire Anderson – 6a

Will Compton – 9a

Eric Martin – 6aa

Steve Octavien – 7d

Taylor Reed – 7aa

Trevor Roach – 6aa

Juwan Simpson – 7c

Projected Starters
OLB: Taylor Reed
MLB: Will Compton
OLB: Juwan Simpson

Summary: Dallas lost their two most productive linebackers from 2015 in Beau Bell and Ray-Ray Armstrong, but have been very impressed with the emergence of former Cornhusker Will Compton. Compton showed signs of stardom last year when he racked up 69 tackles and could be an All-SFL candidate by the end of the season. Flanking him will be Taylor Reed, an impressive local recruit whom the team feels very excited about and Juwan Simpson returns for another year, but is very much on his last leg with the backup situation being shaky at best.

Louisville Cougars

Kevin Demichelis – 6a

Ausar Walcott – 6a

Summary: The Cougars continue to assemble their roster and have signed Ausar Walcott from the AIF and Kevin Demichelis from the IFAF.

Los Angeles Stars

Kyle Bosworth – 7d

Solomon Elimimian – 8

Najee Goode – 7a

Devon Kennard – 9a

James Morris – 6aa

Hayes Pullard – 7aa

Shayne Skov – 6aa

Projected Starters
OLB: Solomon Elimimian
MLB: Hayes Pullard
OLB: Devon Kennard

Summary: The Stars’ defense struggled last year after suffering several major injuries in the first half of the season. Najee Goode struggled last season and Shayne Skov was pressed into action, however rookie Devon Kennard flourished. Kennard proved himself as a starter and potential future star in the SFL and will be joined by former college Hayes Pullard. The former Trojans are young and could help the Stars develop one of the top linebacker corps in the league. Veteran Solomon Eliminian is hoping for a return to greatness after suffering a season ending injury in 2015.

Michigan Stags 

Justin Anderson – 6aa

Tank Carder – 7a$

Moise Fokou – 7c

Simoni Lawrence – 8aa

Rocky McIntosh – 7d$

Jake Ryan – 8aaf

Ian Wild – 6aa

Projected Starters
OLB: Simoni Lawrence
MLB: Jake Ryan
OLB: Tank Carder

Summary: Moise Fokou and Rocky McIntosh combined for 184 tackles last year for the Stags, but it looks like they will be primarily watching from the sidelines in 2016. Looking to replace McIntosh’s production will be Simoni Lawrence who was added in week two of last season yet recorded 70 tackles and five sacks. Taking over for Fokou at middle linebacker is rookie Jake Ryan who looks to be picking up where he left off in Ann Arbor and could be a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate. In a contract year it looks like Tank Carder will finally get the opportunity to prove his abilities beyond just special teams at outside linebacker.

Minnesota Freeze

Thurston Armbrister – 7aa

Jamar Chaney – 7c

Brock Coyle – 6aa

Jonathan Massaquoi – 7c

Stephen Nicholas – 8D

Paul Worrilow – 9a

Projected Starters
OLB: Thurston Armbrister
MLB: Paul Worrilow
OLB: Stephen Nicholas

Summary: Replacing Geno Hayes or Mark Herzlich will not be an easy task for the Freeze as they revamp their linebackers. Paul Worrilow is the only returning starter and should do an adequate job leading the defense while rookie Thurston Armbrister will be pressed into action and will need to do his best to minimize the loss of Hayes. Stephen Nicholas, a future SFL Hall of Famer in many eyes, will be asked for a more extended role beyond the 14 tackles he recorded last year as he steps in to replace Herzlich.

Nashville Renegades 

Kwon Alexander – 9a

Jay Elliott – 7aa

Jerry Franklin – 6a

Geno Hayes – 9d

AJ Johnson – N/A

Dontavis Sapp – 6a

Brandon Watts – 6aa

Projected Starters
OLB: Jay Elliott
MLB: Kwon Alexander
OLB: Geno Hayes

Summary: Nashville’s linebacker corps has not improved its depth, but the starting three look to be a major upgrade. Why New Orleans traded away Kwon Alexander, we may never know, as the deal is looking very lopsided at this point. Alexander not only looks like a guy who could be a star player as a rookie, but a defensive MVP candidate. Geno Hayes, a former All-Star, is coming off another 100 tackle season and looks to bring leadership and put some bite into the ‘Gades defense. Second year man Jay Elliott had a much improved camp and looks to make his mark as a starter in Nashville. Why A.J. Johnson is still on the roster when in the middle of a rape trial, we may never know.

New Orleans Nightmare

Nick Barnett – 7d

Lamin Barrow – 6aa

Nate Dreilling – 6aa

Shea Emry – 7

Parys Haralson – 9d

Justin Hickman – 8

Jamari Lattimore – 8c

J.C. Sherritt – 8c

Ramik Wilson – 7aa

Projected Starters 
OLB: Parys Haralson
MLB: Ramik Wilson
OLB: Jamari Lattimore

Summary: The Nightmare defense looks to make a big upgrade with three new starters at linebacker. Parys Haralson is a perennial All-SFL player at the end of his career – best known for his play as a 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker with the Nashville Renegades. Another former Renegade now in New Orleans is Jamari Lattimore who started inside for Nashville last season and had 109 tackles and three sack. With J.C. Sherritt, Justin Hickman and Nick Barnett (all former SFL starters) added to the roster, the depth looks outstanding. However, while Ramik Wilson had a solid camp it’s still a head scratcher why the Nightmare would trade away a player with Kwon Alexander’s potential.

New York Marauders

Vontaze Burfict – 10f

Adrian Hamilton – 6aa

Deron Mayo – 7aa

Jasper Simmons – 7c

Telvin Smith – 9a

Winston Venable – 8aa

Kenny Tate – 6

Bear Woods – 7

Projected Starters
OLB: Winston Venable
MLB: Vontaze Burfict
OLB: Telvin Smith

Summary: New York has lost a lot of pieces to its monster defense, but the linebacker corps is looking just as fierce as the year before. Burfict looks primed to repeat his All-SFL performance while Telvin Smith could not have had a better training camp. The second year man had high expectations a year ago but was limited to just 19 tackles. If he stays healthy, he will give Burfict a run for his money as the leading tackler on the team. Out of the CFL, Winston Venable may be the best, or at least most underrated, signing off the off-season. Depth wise, Bear Woods, Deron Mayo and Jasper Simmons are hard to beat.

Orlando Rockets

Khalil Bass – 7aa

Adam Bighill – 9

Tyre Glasper – 7aa

Jelani Jenkins – 9a

Arthur Moats – 8aa

Henoc Muamba – 8aa

Terrance Plummer – 6aa

Projected Starters
OLB: Jelani Jenkins
MLB: Adam Bighill
OLB: Arthur Moats

Summary: Even with Jerrell Freeman leaving for the Indianapolis Colts, the Rockets don’t look to be any worse for wear. Adam Bighill recorded 44 tackles last year as a rotational player and the franchise has always felt he has the potential to be a star player. Jelani Jenkins returns after a solid season while the other outside linebacker gig is a toss-up between Arthur Moats and Henoc Muamba. Depth wise, Khalil Bass looks like a capable player should he be pressed into service while Tyre Glasper had 66 tackles and three sacks in a part time starting role last year.

Philadelphia Bulldogs 

Beau Bell – 8

Brandon Copeland – 6aa

Joe Goosby – 7

Ben Heeney – 7aa

Gerald Hodges – 8aa$

Mike Hull – 6aa

Danny Trevathan – 10

Jacquain Williams – 9

Projected Starters
OLB: Jacquain Williams
MLB: Danny Trevathan
OLB: Gerald Hodges

Summary: It was apparent to ownership that Nick Barnett was past his time last season and failed to adequately fill the shoes Bulldog great Dan Connor left behind. In one of the biggest offseason headlines comes in Danny Trevathan via trade for Alfred Morris. Trevathan joins last year’s starters of Gerald Hodges and Jacquain Williams. Management is hoping that Trevathan can produce another All-SFL performance and in doing so elevate the linebacking corps to new heights.

Phoenix Scorpions

Khairi Fortt – 6aa

Alonzo Highsmith Jr. – 7

Josh Kaddu – 6a

Ronnell Lewis – 6aa

Kaluka Maiava – 8D

Prince Shembo – 8c

Yawin Smallwood – 6aa

Projected Starters
OLB: Alonzo Highsmith Jr.
MLB: Kaluka Maiva
OLB: Prince Shembo

Summary: The expansion Scorpions probably couldn’t have done a better job of assembly a linebacker corps so late into the off-season. Prince Shembo, Kaluka Maiava and Alonzo Highsmith Jr. might all be gap starters for the next one or two season, but they aren’t exactly your average Joe. Two players to keep an eye on is Ronnell Lewis that might be moved to defensive end in the future and Yawin Smallwood who was a tackling machine in college that has struggled to latch on in the pro’s, but might find a home with the Scorpions.

San Antonio Marshalls 

Emmanuel Acho – 7a

Adrian Clarke – 6a

David Mayo – 7a

Alex Okafor – 9$

Shaquille Riddick – 6aa

Keenan Robinson – 9$

Will Smith – 6a

Chase Thomas – 6a

Projected Starters 
OLB: Alex Okafor
MLB: Keenan Robinson
OLB: Emmanuel Acho

Summary: The Marshalls had two out of only three players in the league last season to record double digit sacks. Alex Okafor and Keenan Robinson combined for 20 sacks and nearly 200 tackles, but were also the product of a very blitz heavy defense that took chances and was playing behind much of the time. Second round draft choice David Mayo is an interesting player and really the only quality depth the Marshalls have who could develop into a starter in the future.

Seattle Orcas

Alex Hoffman-Ellis – 7aa

Steven Johnson – 7a

Jeff Knox Jr. – 8aa

Aaron Lynch – 8aa

Kevin Reddick – 6aa

Brian Rolle – 7c

John Timu – 7aa

Tourek Williams – 7ac

Vince Williams – 8a

Avery Williamson – 9a

Projected Starters 
OLB: Jeff Knox Jr.
MLB: Avery Williamson
OLB: Aaron Lynch

Summary: The Orcas lost an All-SFL linebacker in Barrett Ruud, but made an outstanding addition with the selection of Jeff Knox Jr. in the third round of the draft. The small school prospect had a superb camp and looks to have beaten out several veterans for a starting spot. Avery Williamson and Aaron Lynch are both players who could earn All-SFL honors, but will need to step up their performances from last year. Backups Vince Williams, Tourek Williams, John Timu, and Alex Hoffman-Ellis provide great depth and will push for playing time and possible starts.

Washington Wave

Cole Farrand – 6aa

Summary: The Wave are still assembling their roster and have one linebacker on the roster. Ferrand is an interesting prospect who could mold into a quality backup or gap starter.

Top 5 Linebackers 

1. Vontaze Burfict, New York Marauders
2. Danny Trevathan, Philadelphia Bulldogs
3. Brandon Spikes, Charleston Dragons
4. Alex Okafor, San Antonio Marshalls
5. Parys Haralson, New Orleans Nightmare

Top 5 Paid Linebackers
1. Parys Haralson, New Orleans Nightmare – $2.4M
t2. Jacquain Williams, Philadelphia Bulldogs $1.1M
t2. Keenan Robinson, San Antonio Marshalls – $1.1M
t2. Rocky McIntosh, Michigan Stags – $1.1M
3. Seven tied at $900K