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Film Room: Analyzing Karlos Dansby's 2015 season with Cleveland

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After being released by the rebuilding Browns, Dansby signed with the Bengals for a chance at the Super Bowl. The 34-year-old is still pretty good, but is he the answer to all the question marks surrounding the Bengals linebacker corps?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We're taking a look at the tape from Karlos Dansby, the former Browns linebacker who joined the Bengals on a one-year deal last week.

I'll begin with this, I really liked the Dansby signing. He is a proven player and comes at a great price. He is still pretty good despite being 34, and turning 35 during the 2016 season. About to playing his 13th season in the NFL, Dansby also helps the Bengals at a position of need, not only providing depth and veteran leadership at the linebacker unit - which will be missing Vontaze Burfict for three games due to suspension - but giving them some freedom in the draft. Cleveland cut ties with Dansby in order to go full rebuild under new head coach Hue Jackson, but the talent is there quite frankly.

I revisited four of last season's Browns games in which Dansby had to face some of the toughest offenses in the league, the Raiders, Cardinals, Bengals and Broncos - okay, maybe Denver wasn't that tough. His signing with the Bengals has been lauded by many because of the skills he still has, and on tape, Dansby proves that Father Time is losing its battle against him. He has some flaws, which is normal given his age, but the move from a pretty bad defense to an above average one, should help. Dansby played a lot last season - 1,031 snaps on defense, more than 98% of the Browns' defensive snaps, and looked tired at times. It's likely the Bengals will use Dansby in more of a rotation, so a smaller role on a better team will allow him to have even more of an impact on the game.

Dansby is a great fit for the nickel linebacker position. His play recognition abilities are very good, and he's excellent at tracking the ball down the line. He is not a run stuffer anymore, and blockers have an easier job going up against him now than they did years ago. By the way, those horrible Browns jerseys make it look like number 58, but wore number 56 in Cleveland.




He will have some trouble, in my opinion, playing the SAM position that A.J. Hawk held in 2015 because he doesn't have the meat to fight blockers at the line of scrimmage anymore. That should be fine with Rey Maualuga already on the roster. Against Arizona in their Week 8 game, Dansby was often taken out of the play at ease by former Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham.


Dansby is a very good tackler though, and even at 34 he has great closing speed and a relentless motor. He has pretty solid technique, and uses his size to bring down the ball carrier, rarely missing.


Even if he did not make the stop on this play, you can tell Dansby is still fast for a linebacker his size.


The new Bengal also provides much needed versatility, and despite coming from a 3-4 defense, the Browns ran a 2-4 nickel formation that is similar to the 4-2 nickel the Bengals often deploy. Dansby has played all three positions and with Burfict out in the early part of the season, he could play alongside Vinny Rey on passing downs.

His bread and butter these days is coverage, where the rangy Alabama native was one of the best in the NFL last season and has been elite for the past decade. He uses his 6'3" frame to blanket opposing tight ends and also saw time against running backs and some wide receivers - including a good effort against then-Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in the teams' Week 9 clash. Dansby's eye discipline stands out and his active feet ensure he doesn't react a second slow.

And speaking of his motor, there were a number of plays in which many other players would have given up but Dansby didn't, nothing shocking considering his resumé, but it's very good to actually see on tape.



I'm also convinced he can get back some of his pass rushing skills in a smaller role, because despite not getting a sack for the first time in his career in 2015, there is still some juice left there.


I believe Dansby is a very good signing for Cincinnati and plugs a big hole they had going on to the draft, helping the Bengals to be able to select the best players available without expecting them to be the answer right away.