With the 2018 NFL season right around the corner, here is a quick preview of the NFL’s top linebackers.
Linebackers have evolved incredibly in recent years. While still used a lot for run stuffing and thumping in the Ray Lewis mold, linebackers have evolved to become far more versatile in other things such as pass coverage (primarily strong-side linebackers covering tight ends).
Another thing that fascinates me with today’s NFL is the popularity of safeties being used as linebackers. People that were safeties coming out of college such as Mark Barron and Deon Buchanan have become essentially full-time linebackers (and very good ones I may add).
The Green Bay Packers, in recent years when their defense was run by Dom Capers, heavily embraced safety/linebacker hybrids primarily with Morgan Burnett, but with Josh Jones in his rookie year as well. This was known as the “Nitro” package. I believe that packages like this will become very prevalent across the league within a few seasons. The “Nitro” package is a very intelligent and innovative idea.
Even with all of the innovative uses of the linebacker position listed above, I do believe that traditional linebackers such as Luke Kuechly and C.J. Mosley have very important roles in today’s NFL. Of course, guys list Deion Jones or Myles Jack do too.
There is no wrong answer for what type of linebacker you prefer, and you will see incredible diversity with the linebackers in these rankings.