The Quarterback Blog looks at the Top 25 NFL Linebackers as part of our look at the Top Active NFL Players. The Linebacker position is broken into a variety of different types of LB, including 4-3 and 3-4 Linebackers who play a variety of positions within those schemes. This list is reserved for those LB’s who primarily play the ILB, MLB and OLB in a 4-3 scheme – pure linebackers who focus less on pressuring the QB.
TOP 25 NFL LINEBACKERS
T25.) BRENDON AYANBADEJO, Free Agent: In 10 seasons in the NFL, Brendon Ayanbadejo, now a Free Agent, was a great role player on defense with the Dolphins, Bears and Ravens. Ayanbadejo’s biggest impact was on Special Teams where he was a 3-time Pro Bowler and twice named 1st Team All-Pro. Played 142 NFL games recording 4.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 215 tackles with a 2012 Super Bowl victory.
T25.) LARRY FOOTE, Pittsburgh Steelers: In now his 12th NFL season, 11 with Pittsburgh, Foote has accumulated 23 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 720 tackles to go with his 2 Super Bowl rings.
24.) ZACH BROWN, Tennessee Titans: Now in his 2nd NFL season, the Will Linebacker in Tennessee has 25 games under his belt with 8.5 sacks, 3 intercepted passes (2 for TD’s), 6 passes defended and 144 tackles.
23.) JAMES LAURINAITIS, St. Louis Rams: The former Ohio State standout, Laurinaitis is the Rams play-caller on D having played 74 games in his short 5-year career with 10.5 sacks, 9 interceptions, 26 passes defended and 593 tackles.
22.) BOBBY WAGNER, Seattle Seahawks: Wagner, in his second season now, has 24 games in with 3.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 6 passes defended and 199 tackles in one of the NFL’s best defenses.
21.) LAVONTE DAVID, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Another young LB, David has 25 games in his 2nd NFL season with 7 sacks, 2 picks, 10 passes defended to go with 216 tackles.
20.) JON BEASON, New York Giants: Injury plagued since 2011, started his first 64 straight games since his rookie season in 2007 (only played in 12 since then), Beason was a force having accumulated 609 tackles, 9 picks and 31 passes defended. Beason was selected to the Pro Bowl in 3 consecutive seasons and twice named a 1st Team All-Pro.
19.) SEAN LEE, Dallas Cowboys: In his 4th NFL season with Dallas, Lee has 11 interceptions (2 for TD’s), 18 passes defended and 278 tackles in just 45 NFL games.
18.) KARLOS DANSBY, Arizona Dolphins: After starting his career in the desert, Dansby returns to Arizona in his 10th NFL season in which he’s played 145 games with 34.5 sacks, 12 interceptions, 60 passes defended, 17 forced fumbles and 968 tackles.
17.) D’QWELL JACKSON, Cleveland Browns: The Brown of 7-seasons, Jackson has a career 11.5 sacks, 7 picks, 24 passes defended, 5 forced fumbles with 7 recovered and 753 tackles.
16.) VONTAZE BURFICT, Cincinnati Bengals: With question marks surrounding Burfict out of college, Burfict has exploded onto the scene with 218 career tackles in 26 games, with 2 sacks, 1 pick, 6 passes defended and 3 fumbles recovered.
T14.) LUKE KUECHLY, Carolina Panthers: Kuechly has 240 tackles in just 25 NFL games to go along with 5 interceptions, 2 sacks, 13 passes defended and 3 fumbles recovered.
T14.) KIKO ALONSO, Buffalo Bills: You can’t start a career any hotter than Kiko. In just 10 NFL games, Alonso has 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, 4 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 1 recovered and 99 tackles.
13.) DAVID HARRIS, New York Jets: Harris, now in his 7th season with the Jets, has flown under the radar, but has career sacks of 24.5, 6 interceptions (1 for a TD), 22 passes defended, 6 forced fumbles with 4 recovered, and 703 career tackles in jus 100 games.
12.) DERRICK JOHNSON, Kansas City Chiefs: The former Texas Longhorn and career Chief (131 total games), has 21.5 sacks, 9 inercepted passes with 3 going the other way for TD’s, 55 passes defended, 19 forced fumbles with 6 recovered and 826 tackles and Pro Bowl nominations in 2011 and 2012 and a 1st Team All-Pro selection last season as well.
11.) DARYL WASHINGTON, Arizona Cardinals: The troubled Washington, has 17 sacks, 6 interceptions, 18 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles and 2 recovered with 345 tackles in 52 games. Also a Pro Bowler in 2012 and 2nd Team All-Pro.
10.) DEMECO RYANS, Philadelphia Eagles: Hasn’t been as spectacular as he was in Houston, but the now Eagle Ryans, has 11.5 sacks, 5 picks, 34 passes defended, 7 forced fumbles with 8 recovered and 844 tackles in 112 career games. Also nominated to 2 Pro Bowls and a 1st Team All-Pro selection.
9.) JONATHAN VILMA, New Orleans Saints: Drafted by the Jets, a Super Bowl winner with the Saints, and “Bountygate” focal point, Vilma has 10.5 career sacks, 12 interceptions, 40 passes defended, 11 forced fumbles with 11 recovered and 977 career tackles in 125 games. Selected to 3 Pro Bowls.
8.) BRIAN CUSHING, Houston Texans: Recently injured, for the second season in a row, Cushing has 11 sacks, 8 picks, 24 passes defended and 7 forced fumbles to go with 411 tackles in 56 career games in the NFL. Was nominated to a Pro Bowl and 1st Team All-Pro selection.
7.) JEROD MAYO, New England Patriots: Mayo has been selected to 2 Pro Bowls and a 1st Team All-Pro in 2010. Mayo also has 9 sacks, 3 picks, 18 passes defended with 8 forced fumbles and 708 tackles in his 6th NFL season.
6.) CHAD GREENWAY, Minnesota Vikings: Doesn’t often get the credit, Greenway has 13.5 sacks, 8 picks, 25 passes defended with 7 forced fumbles with 11 recovered and 838 tackles in his 7th NFL season with the Vikings. Was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his last two seasons and an All-Pro selection.
5.) NAVORRO BOWMAN, San Francisco 49ers: In just 4 seasons has made his mark as one of the best interior linebackers in the NFL having produced 6 sacks, 20 passes defended and 398 tackles with a Pro Bowl selection in 2012 and 1st Team All-Pro selection in 2011 and 2012.
4.) LANCE BRIGGS, Chicago Bears: The longtime Bear has 1,133 tackles in his 163 career games in his 11th NFL season to go with 14 sacks, 15 interceptions, 83 passes defended, 15 forced fumbles, 7 recoveries and 6 TD’s on defense. Has earned his way to 7 Pro Bowls and a three-time 1st Team All-Pro recipient.
3.) LONDON FLETCHER, Washington Redskins: The durable middle-linebacker, Fletcher, has started over 200 straight NFL games and played in nearly 250 with 38 career sacks, 23 interceptions, 85 passes defended, 19 forced fumbles with 12 recovered and 1,994 career tackles and 2 safeties and 3 TD’s. Fletcher, has been voted to only 4 Pro Bowls despite his performances on the field and 2-time 2nd Team All-Pro selection. Also won a Super Bowl in St. Louis.
2.) JAMES HARRISON, Cincinnati Bengals: Amongst the most frightening players in the NFL, Harrison has 66 career sacks, 5 interceptions, 20 passes defended, 29 forced fumbles with 9 recovered and 628 career tackles in his 11th NFL season, where’s he’s been selected to 5 Pro Bowl games and 2-time 1st Team All-Pro and 2-time 2nd Team All-Pro recipient with 2 Super Bowl wins and an NFL and AFC conference Player of the Year award.
1.) PATRICK WILLIS, San Francisco 49ers: Willis might not yet have the accolades of the men ranked behind him, but he’s on track. In just 99 career games with the 49ers, Willis has 18.5 sacks, 7 picks, 50 passes defended, 16 forced fumbles and 868 career tackles in his 7th NFL season. Each season he has played in, Willis has been selected to the Pro Bowl and 1st Team All-Pro.