I'll be interested to see if James Williams remains at S or gets shifted to a LB/Striker so he can cover or at times rush the passer. In short, put him in a position to take advantage of his freakish abilities better in different ways.
Jahfari Harvey if he’s moved to an OLB Jack rusher position as opposed to a traditional 4-3 DE.
Elijah Roberts & Leonard Taylor as either 5 or 7-technique rushers as well.
It’ll help Kamren Kinchens a lot too by giving him a more defined role on the backend rather than having to play in Manny’s chaotic scheme that places the responsibility of 3 different coverage shells on one Safety.
Who will it hurt? Depends on who they view as the starters at ILB, in a more 3-4 base front you’d prefer more athleticism in the middle so theoretically speaking there’s a number of LB’s you could put there. It may inadvertently hurt Keontra Smith if he’s not put in a more defined position, in a 3-4 you could play him at Sam Backer, but it’s not really his fault because manny basically like a Rover Nickel that played LB & Striker at the same time. Gilbert is in that same category, in a traditional 3-4 his role will be less clear, in the 4-2-5 he was a Hybrid LB/S, Keontra & Gil are actually better suited for a 3-3-5 system, but both of them can still be valuable assets if used correctly.
It should help TAC see the field much quicker as well, he’d be perfect at Mike LB in a new scheme.
Chase Smith has kinda already broke out, but he’s definitely going to be a rising star in the new defense.
Fair question because regardless of DC, we're likely going to see odd fronts.
In no particular order:
DL Jordan Miller - the need for a nose should breathe some life into his last year with us. Unless we find a portal player and even if we do, he'll need to be on the field or be required depth. J Harvey - In add odd front, his role should be a better fit for his skill set. He can rush the passer and generally play standing up. C Williams - Same as above, though he'll have to set the edge. E Roberts - I pegged him as a 3T in Manny's defense (I was apparently wrong), but he didn't gain the weight I expected. Usually means he was well-fed coming in as opposed to how many of our guys come in seemingly malnourished. Ha. Anyway, what previously made him a tweener makes him a great fit now to play the 4i or 5T positions in an odd front.
*Wildcard: Sam Brooks may get some time rushing the passer in certain packages.
*Youngsters: depending on their size coming in, a player like Kelly and/or Moss can see immediate PT.
BTW, we need the portal here.
LB Chase Smith - He was going to see the field regardless, I think, but a move to an odd front defense frees up his athleticism and hopefully makes it less about randomly guessing gaps in the wild front approach we previously saw. Someone mentioned Telvin Smith, and well, I agree this profile of athlete can do serious things behind an odd front - yes, even one with 1-gap principles. I can see him playing two different LB positions in an odd front, so will be really interesting this Spring season.
*Wildcard: I don't know the nuances of odd front LB play enough to say with real confidence, but I'm generally curious to see what happens to Keontra Smith. Does he become a sub-package guy? He should see the field regardless.
*Youngters: Being made "free" to run to their [clearer] responsibility in an odd front may get some younger guy (like Bissainthe) on the field sooner.
Listen, this is an entire thread for another day, and this particular question was seemingly pointed at our fronts, but I think many will be surprised how this change will positively affect Safety play. It was really a difficult position in Manny's scheme because of the responsibilities. You had to be absolutely clean in filling and pray someone up front made the ballcarrier change direction a couple times. JWilliams (who I don't even know will stay at S), AWilliams, Kinchens, Balom, and others will all benefit. Their tackling will suddenly seem better (practicing tackling might help, too) to most fans.