Let him walk or re-sign him: Kyle Emanuel & Hayes Pullard
To me Kyle Emanuel is something of a failed experiment. Coming out of collage at North Dakota State he was an undersized defensive end that the team envisioned becoming a hybrid outside linebacker when they ran a 3-4 defense. Not only did they convert to a 4-3 defense in his third year but he has never shown the ability to put pressure on the quarterback the way he did in collage. He lacks the speed from sideline to sideline often being beat to the outside in the flat’s even when he has read the play perfectly. He has the strength to be a starter in this league but yet simply lacks the pure athleticism. On the plus side he has had some looks at the middle linebacker position, both this season and more so back in 2016. While he has seemed to have more success at the mike position, he is best suited more for special team’s role and as a backup. The only way I see him getting any playing time is on a team that is very needy for linebacker help. I would honestly only use him in short yardage and goal line situation in which it is obvious that it is a running situation.
Not only does Emanuel not pass the eye test but pro football focus was not kind to him either. He was graded out at an 48.6 overall grade for the season. The team envisioned him being a blitzing linebacker on the strong side and not only has that not worked out but the team also drafted Uchenna Nwosu in the second round of last year’s draft out of USC. Nwosu is a pass rush specialist and a sure fire upgrade and replacement for Kyle Emanuel. In fact once Emanuel moved to middle linebacker Nwosu was essentially handed Emanuels job and he never relinquished it. It’s not just me who thinks of Emanuel as being incompetent however, as the coaching staff showed little to no faith in either Emanuel or Hayes Pullard down the stretch in either of the two playoff games of season finally. Head coach Anthony Lynn preaches the “next man up” theory yet despite Emanuel and Pullard being the only two healthy linebackers left on the roster after the slew of injuries they still trusted backup Safeties to do the job more than the last remaining linebackers. This is something that will need to change moving forward. I say if you didn’t trust them when it counted then dump the both of them and let them walk. Start over and rebuild the linebacker depth with some trusted backup linebackers who can fill in if another situation, similar to the one we saw takes place again. While Hayes Pullard seems to have more athletic ability than Emanuel, he also seems to lack instincts and or has too many mental lapses in coverage’s. Either way I wouldn’t hesitate to wave goodbye to the both of them.