Linebackers (23)

Derrick Brooks, Kevin Greene, Ray Lewis, Junior Seau Brian Urlacher.

Modern Positional Average

Linebackers: Derrick Brooks (2014), Kevin Greene (2016), Ray Lewis (2018), Junior Seau (2015),  Brian Urlacher (2018).

Stats

  • Games 220
  • Approximate Value 174.8
  • AV/G 0.7945
  • Pro Bowls 9.8
  • First Team All-Pros 4.8
  • Interceptions 20.2
  • Quarterback Sacks 62.6
  • Tackles 1478.8

Last Year’s Rank #10.

Already a Super Bowl Champion (and Super Bowl MVP) Miller is on a Hall of Fame pace and could be considered a Hall of Famer right now based on AV/G.  The Linebacker is still in his prime and has been a Pro Bowl Selection in eight of his nine seasons.  His AV/G is also more than Hall of Fame worthy for his position.  Miller missed the 2020 season due to injury, so we will see what he has left in 2021.

Stats

  • Games 135 (-85)
  • Approximate Value 118 (-56.8)
  • AV/G 0.8222 (+0.0277)
  • Pro Bowls 8 (-1.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 3 (-1.8)
  • Interceptions 2 (-18.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 106 (+43.4)
  • Tackles 490 (-988.8)

Last Year’s Rank #18.

Wagner is on a seven-year streak of Pro Bowls and five-year streak (six overall) of First Team All-Pros.  The former Super Bowl winner’s fifth First Team All-Pro eclipsed the MPA, and the Middle Linebacker led the NFL in Combined Tackles (2019), which was the second time he was the league-leader in that category.  Wagner has never had a year where he did not have three digits in Combined Tackles, and he appears to have a lot more in him.

Stats

  • Games 135 (-85)
  • Approximate Value 116 (-58.8)
  • AV/G 0.8593 (+0.0648)
  • Pro Bowls 7 (-2.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 6 (+1.2)
  • Interceptions 10 (-10.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 22.5 (-40.1)
  • Tackles 1213 (-265.8)

Last Year’s Rank #11.

With our split on Defensive Ends/Tackles and Linebackers, Suggs now makes the MPA for Sacks and Games Played among Linebackers.  A Free Agent as of this writing, Suggs joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020, and now is a two-time Super Bowl Champion.  If he does not sign with anyone again (which appears likely), it is a great way to leave the game.

Stats

  • Games 244 (+24)
  • Approximate Value 152 (-22.8)
  • AV/G 0.6230 (-0.1715)
  • Pro Bowls 7 (-2.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 1 (-3.8)
  • Interceptions 7 (-13.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 139 (+76.4)
  • Tackles 895 (-583.8)

Last Year’s Rank #29.

A former Defensive Player of the Year, and now an All-Decade member, Mack has had six straight years as a Pro Bowl Selection and he has been rewarded three times as a First Team All-Pro.  Turning 30, Mack has an AV/G that is slightly under the MPA, but if he adds two more Pro Bowls, an eight-time Pro Bowler and former DPOY will be hard to keep out.

Stats

  • Games 110 (-110)
  • Approximate Value 87 (-87.8)
  • AV/G 0.7909 (-0.0035999999999999)
  • Pro Bowls 6 (-3.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 3 (-1.8)
  • Interceptions 3 (-17.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 70.5 (+7.9)
  • Tackles 448 (-1030.8)

Last Year’s Rank #38.

Matthews played one season for the Rams in 2019, after playing a decade in Green Bay, but a second never came as he was released before the 2020 season.  Still looking for work as of this writing, Matthews is a six-time Pro Bowler, but his last one was in 2015.  This may be it for Matthews, and it could be as simple as waiting for him to announce his retirement.

Stats

  • Games 155 (-65)
  • Approximate Value 92 (-82.8)
  • AV/G 0.5936 (-0.2009)
  • Pro Bowls 6 (-3.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 1 (-3.8)
  • Interceptions 6 (-14.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 91.5 (+28.9)
  • Tackles 519 (-959.8)
Mosley’s AV/G is well higher than the average MPA for a Linebacker, though his traditional numbers are low for this stage of his career, and he doesn’t have that First Team All-Pro.  After five years in Baltimore, Mosley joined the Jets in 2019, but only played two games due to a groin injury, and he is opting out this season due to COVID concerns.  This definitely puts a hold on his Hall of Fame chances.

Stats

  • Games 79 (-141)
  • Approximate Value 68 (-106.8)
  • AV/G 0.8608 (+0.0663)
  • Pro Bowls 4 (-5.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 10 (-10.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 8.5 (-54.1)
  • Tackles 588 (-890.8)

Last Year’s Rank #102.

A four-year veteran, T.J. Watt, is on a three-season Pro Bowl streak, and a two-year run of First Team All-Pros.  Considered one of the top pass rushers in the NFL, Watt led the NFL last year in Sacks (15) and Tackles for Loss (23), and was in serious consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year.

Stats

  • Games 62 (-158)
  • Approximate Value 49 (-125.8)
  • AV/G 0.6801 (-0.1144)
  • Pro Bowls 3 (-6.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 2 (-2.8)
  • Interceptions 4 (-16.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 49.5 (-13.1)
  • Tackles 230 (-1248.8)

Last Year’s Rank #68.

In 2014, Houston led the NFL with 22 Sacks, and he went to four straight Pro Bowls ending in 2015.  That seems like a long time ago, as he has been average since, and unless he has another Pro Bowl worthy year, he won’t make it to Canton.  Houston now joins the Baltimore Ravens, a bona fide Super Bowl contender.  A ring and an additional personal accolade would be monstrous for his chances.

Stats

  • Games 134 (-86)
  • Approximate Value 80 (-94.8)
  • AV/G 0.5970 (-0.1975)
  • Pro Bowls 4 (-5.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 1 (-3.8)
  • Interceptions 4 (-16.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 97.5 (+34.9)
  • Tackles 451 (-1027.8)

Last Year’s Rank #77.

Sure, it is only three years, but that AV/G of 1.0000 is higher than any other defensive player on this list.  If Leonard and the Colts rise like many people think they can, it could be another huge vault up this list for the young Linebacker.

Stats

  • Games 42 (-178)
  • Approximate Value 42 (-132.8)
  • AV/G 1.0000 (+0.2055)
  • Pro Bowls 2 (-7.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 2 (-2.8)
  • Interceptions 7 (-13.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 15 (-47.6)
  • Tackles 416 (-1062.8)

Last Year’s Rank #74.

At the start of 2020, Jones was only four Sacks away from 100, but he only played five Games due to a torn bicep, and the contests he was in only yielded one Sack.  Jones has to bounce back to reclaim the momentum he lost.

Stats

  • Games 124 (-96)
  • Approximate Value 75 (-99.8)
  • AV/G 0.6048 (-0.1897)
  • Pro Bowls 3 (-6.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 2 (-2.8)
  • Interceptions 0 (-20.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 97 (+34.4)
  • Tackles 432 (-1046.8)

Last Year’s Rank #94.

We argued that Lavonte David was one of the most underrated player of the 2010s, and we think that is even more true in general, as he did not add to his lone Pro Bowl despite an excellent season with a 15 in Approximate Value.  A tackling machine who could reach the AV/G in a few years, David could use Pro Bowls and All-Pros, but his recently acquired Super Bowl ring provides a lot of comfort, and is a nice add to the resume.

Stats

  • Games 137 (-83)
  • Approximate Value 88 (-86.8)
  • AV/G 0.6423 (-0.1522)
  • Pro Bowls 1 (-8.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 1 (-3.8)
  • Interceptions 12 (-8.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 24 (-38.6)
  • Tackles 1125 T (-353.8)

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Last Year’s Rank #79.

Barr had four consecutive Pro Bowl years (2015-18) but did so without a First or Second Team All-Pro Selection.  He faces a real test in 2021, after missing 14 Games due to a torn pectoral muscle.

Stats

  • Games 87 (-133)
  • Approximate Value 55 (-119.8)
  • AV/G 0.6222 (-0.1723)
  • Pro Bowls 4 (-5.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 2 (-18.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 15.5 (-47.1)
  • Tackles 423 (-1055.8)

Last Year’s Rank #85.

Clowney went to three straight Pro Bowls (2016-18) with the Texans but his 2019 season in Seattle was not spectacular and 2020 in Tennessee was worse.  He joins Cleveland this year, but his peak period seems light year ago.

Stats

  • Games 83 (-137)
  • Approximate Value 50 (-124.8)
  • AV/G 0.6024 (-0.1921)
  • Pro Bowls 3 (-6.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 1 (-19.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 32 (-30.6)
  • Tackles 258 (-1220.8)

Last Year’s Rank #122.

We noted last year that JPP hasn’t been to the Pro Bowl since 2012 and his best days seem like a lifetime ago.  Perhaps he aimed to prove us wrong as he was healthy in 2020, returned to the Pro Bowl (his third), and won his second Super Bowl.  Is this beginning of a late-career renaissance?  

Stats

  • Games 153 (-67)
  • Approximate Value 80 (-94.8)
  • AV/G 0.5230 (-0.2715)
  • Pro Bowls 3 (-6.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 1 (-3.8)
  • Interceptions 4 (-16.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 89.0 (+26.4)
  • Tackles 572 (-906.8)

Last Year’s Rank #96.

Kerrigan moved to a bench role in 2020, in what was his last year with Washington.  The four-time Pro Bowl Selection moves to division rival Philadelphia, but there is little reason to think he will be a potent starter again.  Kerrigan is at best a pass rushing specialist, and the reasonable goal now might be reaching 100 Sacks, of which he is 4.5 away.

Stats

  • Games 156 (-64)
  • Approximate Value 76 (-98.8)
  • AV/G 0.4873 (-0.3072)
  • Pro Bowls 4 (-5.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 3 (-17.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 95.5 (+32.9)
  • Tackles 454 (-1024.8)
Playing for the New England since 2012 and winning three Super Bowls will raise your profile, but he is a two-time Pro Bowler and he put himself on the fringe of the Hall of Fame hunt last year with an Approximate Value season of 17.  The momentum will end this year as he has opted out of 2020 due to COVID-19.

Stats

  • Games 102 (-118)
  • Approximate Value 63 (-111.8)
  • AV/G 0.6177 (-0.1768)
  • Pro Bowls 2 (-7.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 1 (-19.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 25.5 (-37.1)
  • Tackles 505 (-973.8)

Last Year’s Rank #142.

Edmunds has only played three seasons, but is now a two-time Pro Bowl Selection on what is one of the best young defences in football.  He could rocket up this list next year.

Stats

  • Games 46 (-174)
  • Approximate Value 32 (-142.8)
  • AV/G 0.6957 (-0.0988)
  • Pro Bowls 2 (-7.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 3 (-17.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 5.5 (-57.1)
  • Tackles 355 (-1123.8)

Last Year’s Rank #126.

K.J. Wright finished his tenth and last year with Seattle, and is looking for employment as of this writing.  He does have over 900 Tackles, a Pro Bowl, a Super Bowl, but clearly needs a lot more for a Canton radar.

Stats

  • Games 144 (-76)
  • Approximate Value 73 (-101.8)
  • AV/G 0.5069 (-0.2876)
  • Pro Bowls 1 (-8.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 6 (-14.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 13.5 (-49.1)
  • Tackles 941 (-537.8)

Last Year’s Rank #Unranked.

Young has only played one season, but the Linebacker was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and showed limitless potential.

Stats

  • Games 15 (-205)
  • Approximate Value 14 (-160.8)
  • AV/G .9333 (+0.1388)
  • Pro Bowls 1 (-8.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 0 (-20.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 7.5 (-55.1)
  • Tackles 44 (-1434.8)

Last Year’s Rank #Unranked.

Warner quietly had a monster 2020, and with only three years of NFL service on a decent team (San Francisco) he could replicate that in 2021.

Stats

  • Games 48 (-172)
  • Approximate Value 34 (-140.8)
  • AV/G .7083 (-0.0862)
  • Pro Bowls 1 (-8.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 1 (-3.8)
  • Interceptions 3 (-17.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 4.0 (-58.6)
  • Tackles 367 (-1111.8)

Last Year’s Rank #Unranked.

Kendricks was a First Team All-Pro in 2019, and needs a year like that again.

Stats

  • Games 85 (-135)
  • Approximate Value 52 (-122.8)
  • AV/G .6118 (-0.1827)
  • Pro Bowls 1 (-8.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 1 (-3.8)
  • Interceptions 7 (-13.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 9.5 (-53.1)
  • Tackles 639 (-839.8)

Last Year’s Rank #Unranked.

Smith was a Second Team All-Pro last year, which is the first major individual accolade that the Linebacker earned as a pro.  He has only played three years so there should be plenty of time for Smith to make a Hall of Fame case.

Stats

  • Games 44 (-176)
  • Approximate Value 30 (-144.8)
  • AV/G .6818 (-0.1127)
  • Pro Bowls 0 (-9.8)
  • First Team All-Pros 0 (-4.8)
  • Interceptions 4 (-16.2)
  • Quarterback Sacks 11 (-51.6)
  • Tackles 361 (-1117.8)