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2015 Detroit Lions roster review: Linebackers: Don't forget about 'Dre

A look back at how the Lions' linebackers performed in 2015 and a look ahead to 2016.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As part of our season wrap-up series, we are going to examine how each player on the roster performed in 2015. Next, let's take a look at the Detroit Lions' linebackers.

Stephen Tulloch

2015 stats: 16 games (16 starts) | 107 tackles, 1.0 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 forced fumble
2016 status: Signed through 2016

Say what you will about Tulloch, but he was the most impactful linebacker for the Lions in 2015. He easily led the team in tackles, and had the second-highest run defense grade on the team according to PFF. However, his liability as a pass defender was undeniable. Tulloch was exposed time and time again as too slow of a coverage player and that eventually became the entire narrative of his season.

Josh Bynes

2015 stats: 16 games (11 starts) | 82 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 5 PDs, 1 FF
2016 status: Signed through 2016

At the beginning of the season, Bynes was expected to simply be around as a depth and special teams player. However, injuries forced Bynes into the lineup, where he stayed as a starter for the majority of the season. He graded moderately positive as both a pass and run defender. Bynes actually had more snaps than any other linebacker on the team.

Tahir Whitehead

2015 stats: 16 games (8 starts) | 50 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 6 PDs, 1 interception
2016 status: Unrestricted free agent

Whitehead puzzlingly lost his starter status to Bynes at the beginning of the season. However, Tahir worked his way back up the depth chart and ended up as the team's highest-graded linebacker according to PFF.

Travis Lewis

2015 stats: 15 games (4 starts) | 21 tackles, 1.0 sacks
2016 status: Unrestricted free agent

Lewis mostly spent time as a special teams body, but managed to get in a fair amount of playing time with defense as well. Lewis' play didn't move the needle too far in either direction.

Brandon Copeland

2015 stats: 16 games (0 starts) | 14 tackles
2016 status: Exclusive rights free agent

Copeland had nearly given up on football before he impressed during the preseason and was one of the most surprising players to make the Lions' 53-man roster. Copeland's contributions were mostly on special teams during the year, but he eventually worked his way into the defensive lineup and improved as the season went on.

Kyle Van Noy

2015 stats: 15 games (0 starts) |  10 tackles, 1.0 sacks
2016 status: Signed through 2017

Van Noy's second year in the NFL was just as disappointing as his rookie season. This year, Van Noy did not have an injury holding him back; rather, he was simply just not good enough to see the field very often. One has to wonder how much longer he will stick around.

DeAndre Levy

2015 stats: 1 game (1 start) 
2016 status: Signed through 2019

Levy's 2015 season will be defined by his mysterious hip injury, which he suffered in practice shortly after the Lions' second preseason game. The injury did not appear to be serious, but it lingered well into the regular season. When Levy finally returned to the lineup, it only took a half of play for Detroit to realize the injury was serious enough to end Levy's season.

Outlook for 2016

Things are looking up for the Lions linebackers, as they will likely get the full services of their All Pro linebacker again. Outside of Levy, the Lions have some serious questions to consider. Tulloch is one of the Lions' biggest candidates to be a cap casualty. Detroit can save $6 million by cutting him, but Tulloch still possesses strong tackling abilities and leadership that may make this decision harder than it looks.

Additionally, Whitehead is scheduled to be a free agent, and the Lions may want to lock the young defender up before he hits the market. He certainly seems like a more promising player than Van Noy, who is just one year younger.

Previously: Quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends,offensive tackles, offensive guards, centers, defensive ends, defensive tackles

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