Curtis Lofton is a fixture in the middle, and it’s pretty much a sure bet that Mike Peterson will be a starter at one of the outside spots, most likely being the weak side. There will be some competition between Stephen Nicholas and Coy Wire for the strong side position.
Nicholas is the more likely of the two to win the job, as the coaching staff wants to develop him. Wire is undersized, but performed well as a reserve off the bench last year, particularly towards the end of the season. But it remains to be seen if he has the needed size and strength to hold up for 16 games as a starter at linebacker. Nicholas presents much greater upside, and it’s really his job to lose. Wire is a much better coming off the bench in nickel situations.
The other spots will be settled via camp competition. Right now, Tony Gilbert is the incumbent backup middle linebacker behind Lofton. He’ll most likely be pushed by undrafted rookie Rashad Bobino out of Texas. Gilbert was inactive for all sixteen games last year, but due to his experience and familiarity with the coaches makes him a relatively sure bet to beat Bobino.
On the outside, the two most likely candidates to fill the reserve spots will be rookie Spencer Adkins and second-year player Robert James. James missed all of last year with injury. Both players are most likely to work on on special teams. But James has good speed, and Adkins showed nice pass rush potential at Miami last year as a situational player. That likely leaves Edmond Miles on the outside looking in along with Bobino, most likely aiming for spots on the practice squad.