Whether you're looking at veterans DeMeco Ryans, Chaun Thompson, Kevin Bentley, and the newly added Cato June, or the young guys featuring Xavier Adibi, Zac Diles, or free agent pick-up Buster Davis, not to mention the first-round pick from football factory USC, Brian Cushing, and the undrafted free agent rookie Toddrick Verdell (Florida State), depth and talent are overflowing.
So what should the Texans do? They could switch things up to the 3-4, but who would play the nose? Shaun Cody? That could possibly work, if only he wasn't 6'4". Ideally you want a shorter, wider player to clog up that middle and get underneath the blocks from across the trenches. Amobi Okoye would be probably your best bet if he could add another 20 pounds or so. The 4-3 is what they will probably stick with though and so that means it's decision time in Houston. Which six (the most likely number) of the nine linebackers are going to make the squad? You have to look at the obvious selections to make the team. DeMeco Ryans is the defensive captain and one of the best young middle linebackers in the game, and a former defensive rookie of the year. Zac Diles could be the best of the group if he can remain healthy. After watching some highlight plays on him, he has the ability to become the next Ray Lewis. Xavier Adibi's work ethic, football IQ, and his ability to lead both on and off the field make him a staple in the Texans plans for years to come.
Bud Foster, the defensive coordinator for Virginia Tech and Adibi's former coach, spoke in the Roanoke Times about his former linebacker—
"Xavier might be the fastest guy and the most athletic linebacker I've had the opportunity to coach. His first asset is he's got great speed. Plus, he's physical. He's a complete linebacker. On top of all that, he has a good football IQ and will be a great team guy."
Having several talented players at a position is a problem that many coaches would love to have, but it's nevertheless a problem. Head Coach Gary Kubiak, Defensive Coordinator Frank Bush Sr., and Linebacker Coach Johnny Holland now have the unenviable task of determining who should stay and who should go. The players who will make the squad will be aiming to inflict pain and shut-outs against the AFC South and the rest of the league.