Don’t discount the newcomers
The presumed starters for the 2018 season are inside linebackers Ben Burr-Kirven and Brandon Wellington. Burr-Kirven was the 2017 starter, and Wellington was the ipso facto understudy to Bierra. And for now, that is just fine. Burr-Kirven and Wellington understand the system, have earned their minutes, and now have the opportunity to showcase as defensive starters.
Don’t discount either Tafisi or Kaho. Clearly both players have untapped potential and they could very easily be quite impressive in training camp. And beyond that, each will have opportunities to perform on special teams and amidst defensive rotations. After all, it’s hard not to slide in Kaho into the defense with his upgrade to 5-star.
And there is plenty of time to assess and reproject. After all, that process is already underway. You can bet that the coaching staff is multitasking to attract more talent to the team, while simultaneously working to field the best 11 men on both offense and defense. And as they familarize themselves with the 2018 roster, they will change their depth chart.
While there is no expectation of incoming freshmen to earn starting roles with this team, the talent level is so great that I wouldn’t eliminate the possiblity too hastily.