Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey will make a return to his college roots as the team is planning to move him to outside linebacker in 2017.
The arrival of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams brings not only a new defensive system to the Cleveland Browns, but also some new roles for players within that system.
One such change will come from the linebackers as Christian Kirksey will move from the middle linebacker role he has filled for the past three seasons to one of the outside linebacker spots opposite Jamie Collins, according to clevelandbrowns.com.
Much like Nate Orchard, who will try to transition to defensive end, the position he played in college, Kirksey sliding to the outside will be a return to his college days at Iowa, Kirskey told ESPN.com:
"“I played outside in college, so I’m pretty familiar with playing outside. Last year playing inside was a big year for me. I think I took some strides forward. But I’m adapted to any position they want to play me at, so I don’t think I’m too frustrated at thinking about going to outside from inside."
"“A linebacker is a linebacker. You gotta be in a lot of positions to make a lot of plays. Gregg, he knows what he’s doing on defense. He knows the best spot to put me. So I’ll be ready to play wherever he wants me to play.”"
Hopefully the switch won’t slow Kirksey’s progress as the has gone from being a third-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft to one of Cleveland’s cornerstone players on defense. This past season was his first as a full-time starter and he responded by leading the team in tackles with 148, a number that put him at third in the entire NFL.
And, as he said, no matter where he lines up Kirksey will need to make plays.
Change is inevitable, especially when it comes to the Browns, so seeing the team shuffle players around is a common theme for an organization that will be going on its fourth defensive coordinator in five seasons.
Just as long as when the Browns are done with all the shuffling they don’t flip over a joker, then everything should be fine.