Willie Yarbary has been a very crucial member of the Birmingham Stallions defense for two seasons. So much so that he started all 10 games last season, and has accounted for 7 sacks over two years despite seeing snaps on the interior defensive line.

Yarbary was placed on injured reserve on March 19th, and in a corresponding move, Zach Potter, went into his rolodex, and simply brought in another recent NFL player. This one was a first round pick in 2017, and has a very unique name. Taco Charlton has signed a contract with the Birmingham Stallions for the 2024 season.

Taco Charlton, and Willie Yarbary Not a One for One Replacement

Make no mistake Taco Charlton and Willie Yarbary are by no stretch of the imagination the same player, nor would they serve the same purpose for this defense in 2024. While we are talking fairly small margins, Charlton is a leaner, faster player than Yarbary. Yarbary is the stronger player, who sees most of his time on the interior defensive line.

Charlton has spent the majority of his career playing as a 4 or 5 technique. This essentially means he lines up outside of or over the offensive tackle, and even sometimes inside the tackle, but rarely did he play straight up over a guard, or center. Yarbary on the other hand is the type of player who did the exact opposite. Most of his damage has been done from the 1, 2, or 3 technique positions between the center, and over or just outside of the guards.

This isn’t to say Charlton couldn’t have decided to put on some weight and try and add to his resume, but I assume the thought process here is to simply put more of those snaps on Jaylen Twyman who is closer to a Yarbary style player than Charlton, and take off some of the snaps Twyman would otherwise see at the 4 or 5 and give those back to Charlton. There are many ways to fill an injury hole, and I believe this is simply the Stallions doing what they do best. Sign the best player available, find a way to make them fit, and win games. They aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, or force a square peg into a round hole and that is EXACTLY what makes them so successful. It’s the same recipe that turned the New England Patriots into a dynasty, and its been followed to a letter in Birmingham with the Stallions.

Defensive Line and Linebacker Look to be an All-Star Unit

To the casual fan, they see a name like Taco Charlton, knowing he was a first round pick and likely assume he will come in and run roughshod through the UFL like he owns the place. They may end up sorely mistaken, in fact, his career with the Stallions may turn out to look very similar to his last few seasons with the NFL in which he was nothing more than a role player, and injury replacement at best.

That might shock some, but in reality the Stallions have shown a lot of loyalty to players that have found success in their system. This was shown across their roster when many of their original 2022 players were retained coming out of the UFL dispersal draft. Looking at this front four in my mind the depth chart will likely look something like this. I also expect to see Chauncey Rivers used as a pass rushing defensive end situationally.

4/5 technique: Anree Saint-Amour, Jonathon Garvin, DaMarcus Mitchell

0/1 technique: Carlos Davis, Marvin Wilson

2/3 technique: Jordan Thompson/Marvin Wilson, Jaylen Twyman

4/5 technique: Dondrea Tillman, Taco Charlton

I expect Charlton to make an impact because the Stallions like to rotate their defensive linemen as the season goes on to keep them fresh. Having capable players to step into the lineup when needed is important even if it is only a ten game season. I will say Charlton must know he will see playing time otherwise he likely wouldn’t have signed the contract. This is a guy who has made over $11,000,000 over his career so far, I don’t believe money is his motivation. This is more about reminding teams what he is capable of, while also leaving a mark on professional football an add to a legacy that currently lacks any real wow factor after being selected in round 1. This is the type of reclamation project the UFL is built for, and I expect he will be far from the last, it wouldn’t even surprise me to see more players brought in, or sent packing on the defensive line alone.

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Sam Just

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