The exodus of Missouri linebackers at the conclusion of the ‘23 regular season certainly raised some eye brows from Tiger faithful, especially with the potential additional loss of Ty’Ron Hopper.
Eli Drinwitz and Blake Baker heard those concerns and addressed them. Like they do.
Flagg was recruited by Baker at Miami and has played in this particular 4-2-5 scheme that Baker utilizes. He’s also been a very productive player in said scheme while seeing his playing time diminish over the years. That seems like a win-win to me!
Where He Fits: In Miami’s 4-2-5 defense, Flagg lined up as an inside linebacker, outside linebacker and, occasionally, a hand-in-the-dirt edge rusher. He was sent in on blitzes much more frequently than the other linebackers and, much like Ty’Ron Hopper, seems happiest when he has the opportunity to create some havoc plays. Given his skills and production, it seems he’s being brought in to either backup or replace Hopper at the weakside position.
When He’ll Play: It all depends on how he does compared to Triston Newson. The JUCO product came in last year and quickly became the trusted backup to Hopper, seeing his highest usage towards the end of the year and starting when Hopper was injured. If Flagg is an upgrade over Newson, then I imagine Flagg will play plenty this year. If not then the staff might find ways to rotate him in as Chuck Hicks’ backup. Even with the COVID extension, Flagg has two years to play one so, given that he’s essentially a one-year rental, expect to see him on the field in whatever capacity they can utilize him.
The Stat Stuff: Of all the transfer portal additions of this cycle, Flagg is easily the most experienced. He’s played 8+ games every year of his career and has logged 1,531 defensive snaps over 43 games, racking up 160 tackles, 21 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, 28 run stuffs, 5 passes broken up, 1 interception, and 1 fumble. His snap counts and production have diminished every year since his freshman year but has a consistently accurate tackler (over 85% tackle success in all four years) and a pressure rate over 10% for his career.
What It All Means: Flagg provides a ton of experience and havoc capabilities to a defense that might need an influx of both. The fact that’s he played under Blake Baker’s tutelage before and has experience in big time games are just additional benefits to this acquisition. Regardless of whether he starts or not, it’s easy to anticipate seeing a lot of Flagg next season.