Welcome to the second installment of the defensive NFL Divisional power rankings by position groups.
Early in the week we ranked Defensive Line
Last week’s offensive divisional rankings:
Today we focus on the linebacker groups. I will rank the divisions from 8 through 1. Focused on the top 3 linebackers within each team’s depth chart. Some players who you may more associate with DL but are listed as LB will be included within these rankings.
Let the rankings begin:
8. NFC EAST
Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee
Eagles: Nathan Gerry, Jatavis Brown, Alex Singleton
Giants: Markus Golden, David Mayo, Blake Martinez
Redskins: Thomas Davis, Jon Bostic, Reuben Foster
This division absolutely has some studs and has the chance to finish the season MUCH higher… But there are also a ton of question marks. Can Thomas Davis still play? Besides Nathan Gerry do you know one linebacker on the Eagles? Markus Golden is a stud but after him.. Sean Lee is a billion years old, Leighton Vander Esch is coming off neck surgery and Jaylon Smith literally can’t cover.
7. AFC NORTH
Bengals: Germaine Pratt, Josh Bynes, Logan Wilson
Browns: B.J. Goodson, Mack Wilson, Sione Takitaki
Ravens: Matthew Judon, L.J. Fort, Patrick Queen
Steelers: T.J. Watt, Vince Williams, Bud Dupree
Another group that has the potential to finish the season ranked possibly in the top 3-4. I mean T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree together is a hell of a tandem. I can’t wait to see what kind of player Patrick Queen becomes at the next level, especially getting to play with Judon. But after those guys… Who the hell is Sione Takitaki, sounds like something I would order at a Hibachi grill. We shall see.
6. AFC EAST
Bills: Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds, A.J. Klein
Dolphins: Emmanuel Ogbah, Raekwon McMillan, Kyle Van Noy
Jets: Jabari Zuniga, C.J. Mosley, Avery Williamson
Patriots: Chase Winovich, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Don’t’a Hightower
Again, the AFC East toward the bottom of the rankings. C.J. Mosley can be a top 5 LB in the NFL, but was not healthy at all last season. Tremaine Edmunds will make sure the Bill’s LB play above where they should. I absolutely love the addition of Kyle Van Noy for the Dolphins, especially for Emmanuel Ogbah. I would say the Patriots have the most solid group with Winovich and Hightower.
5. AFC WEST
Broncos: Von Miller, Alexander Johnson, Bradley Chubb
Chargers: Denzel Perryman, Kenneth Murrary, Drue Tranquill
Chiefs: Willie Gay Jr., Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson
Raiders: Nick Kwiatkoski, Cory Littleton, Nicholas Morrow
I think this is right where this group should be. I mean Von Miller and Bradley Chubb may be the best duo in the league at getting after the QB from their positions. Drue Tranquill played out of his mind as a rookie and that group gets even younger with the addition of first round pick Kennth Murrary. Anthony Hitchens is the ultimate lunch pale go to work and knock heads linebacker in KC. The weak link within this group will be coming from Las Vegas, prove me wrong.
4. NFC NORTH
Bears: Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan
Lions: Jamie Collins, Jarrad Davis, Reggie Ragland
Packers: Preston Smith, Christian Kirksey, Oren Burks
Vikings: Eric Wilson, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr
When healthy name a better group of Mack, Smith and Trevathan… I will wait. The addition of Jamie Collins is huge for the Lions and Reggie Ragland. I hope he can play outside of New England. Preston Smith was a madman playing his first season for the Packers last year. Kendricks and Barr have been holding it down in Minnesota3 for a long time now, and don’t expect that to end this season.
3. NFC SOUTH
Buccaneers: Devin White, Levonte David, Shaquil Barrett
Falcons: Dante Fowler Jr., Deion Jones, Foyesade Oluokun
Panthers: Shaq Thompson, Tahir Whitehead, Jarmaine Carter
Saints: Demario Davis, Kiko Alonso, Alex Anzalone
You could argue that I could switch the NFC North and the NFC South and I wouldn’t fight you that hard. But Shaq Barrett led the league in sacks last year and I feel like that has to count for something. Deion Jones can cover anyone in the NFL, and I think Dante Fowler has a chance to ball out this season. The Panthers got younger and I really like the addition of Whitehead holding down the middle for them. Damario Davis is the best linebacker in New Orleans and has a chance to get Kiko to play at a very high level.
2. NFC WEST
49ers: Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw
Cardinals: Chandler Jones, Jordan Hicks, Isaiah Simmons
Rams: Samson Ebukam, Micah Kiser, Leonard Floyd
Seahawks: Jordyn Brooks, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright
I mean look at the names in this group… Kwon Alexander, Chandler Jones, Jordan Hicks, Leonard Floyd, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright. Ballers, all ballers. Some at different points in their career, like Wright who may have lost a step but can still play. Bobby Wagner is still the best MLB in football, Jordan Hicks had about 700 tackles last year and Kwon Alexander is an absolute monster playing for the 49ers. Again, if you wanted to make this group the top dog I wouldn’t fight you too hard.
1. AFC SOUTH
Colts: Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker, Bobby Okereke
Jaguars: Myles Jack, Joe Schobert, Cassius Marsh Sr.
Texans: Whitney Mercilus, Benadrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham
Titans: Vic Beasley Jr., Jayon Brown, Rashaan Evans
Darius Leonard is an absolute MONSTER for the Colts. The former rookie defensive player of the year can legit do it all. Myles Jack was told he may only play a few years, I think he has only missed one game in his career and is an absolute beast. Whitney Mercilus sometimes is better at getting at the QB than his teammate J.J. Watt. I really like Vic Beasley getting out of Atlanta and getting a new shot with the Titans. Also, watch out for rookie Bobby Orereke in Indy to step in and be a real contributor with Leonard.
Those are the linebacker rankings. I have to be honest, that was the hardest group yet. Absoultely the rankings could be changed a bit and I would probably agree.
Tomorrow we move on to the cornerback groups.
Let us know what you think about the LB rankings.