Brandon Smith - Carolina Panthers LB
Much like the situation on the defensive line, a period of adjustment is expected within the linebacking room as Ejiro Evero moves to a 3-4 base scheme that will feature multiple different alignments. Having experienced figures such as Brian Burns and Shaq Thompson around can smooth the transition, but it's been a crash course over early offseason workouts for all involved before training camp.
For all the positive noises coming out of Carolina, one player seems to be getting overlooked. Brandon Smith has all the athletic intangibles needed to make a real go of things after flashing as a rookie, but a new regime and some big system changes have him working alongside the backups currently.
This is unlikely to change given the presence of Thompson and Frankie Luvu on the second-level interior. Burns will occupy a 3-4 outside linebacker role with multiple other candidates fighting for the other starting position.
The former fourth-round selection out of Penn State is a primary candidate for the 53-man roster thanks to his explosiveness and ability to assist on special teams. But anyone who expected Smith to be a prominent figure in the defensive lineup could be out of luck unless he shines above all else at training camp.
Again, it all comes down to Smith's desire. He's still young enough to develop significantly under improved coaches, so a core rotational role might still be in the offing with a decent showing in Spartanburg.