Cleat Geeks

Pro Bowl Preview: Linebackers

The NFL Pro Bowl held January 31st in Hawaii is coming up quickly! In my series of articles I will breakdown each position of players, rank them according to who I’d want on my All-Pro Bowl team, and give you a couple guys that were snubbed.

There were six outside linebackers and four inside linebackers chosen to participate in the Pro Bowl this year. I will be bringing them up from last-to-first by position in the order of who I’d want on my team. My rankings will be based on their performances from this season and not what they have accomplished in the past


Outside Linebackers

Tamba Hali:

In his 10th season, Hali has been voted to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl. He was voted the 70th best player in the league by his peers before the season began. His season was not terrible, but it was among the worst seasons in his career. He finished with 39 solo tackles, 9 assisted tackles, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and defended one pass in 15 games. I rank him last because his performance was the weakest given how many games he played.


DeMarcus Ware:

The old veteran out of Troy was voted to his ninth Pro Bowl in his 11 seasons. He has been first-team All-Pro four times, second-team All-Pro three times, and the sacks leader twice. Unfortunately, he did not do any of those this season. Age has seemed to catch up with Ware, and his body is just not healing as quickly as it used to. This caused him to miss five games. Even with those games missed he still managed to sack the quarterback 7.5 times and forced a fumble. If I was running a 3-4 schemed defense, there are still very few players I would want over Ware.


Justin Houston:NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals

Houston was another player that struggled to get healthy this season, and he also missed five games. He was still able to be voted to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl in his fifth year out of Georgia. Houston finished the season with 25 solo tackles, five assisted tackles, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two interceptions, one touchdown, and six passes defended.


Von Miller:

The Broncos’ pass rush specialist had another fantastic year doing just that, but is seldom asked to do much else. I’m not going to knock him down much for that, because I think he is capable of dropping into coverage more. Even with rushing the quarterback basically every play, Miller finished the season with 30 solo tackles, five assisted tackles, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles (tied for #3), and defended one pass. If i was assembling a 3-4 team, I would have Miller ranked higher, but I personally am building my 4-3 defense.


Thomas Davis: 

In his 11th season out of Georgia, I’m extremely happy to say that Davis has FINALLY been voted to his first Pro Bowl! I’m sure many of you can’t believe that this is his first, but trust me, it is. He has been a consistent force for Carolina’s defense for quite some time now. He finished with 75 solo tackles, 30 assisted tackles, 5.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles (tied for #3), 4 interceptions, and 7 passed defended. This was one of the best seasons of his career, and the first-team All-Pro, Bart Starr Award, and former Walter Payton Man of the Year Award recipient definitely deserved it!


Jamie Collins:


Due to an illness, Collins was only able to play in 12 games this season, but that didn’t slow him down. He racked up 51 solo tackles, 38 assisted tackles, 5.5 sacks, five forced fumbles (tied for #1), one interception, six passes defended, one touchdown, and even blocked a PAT. I know he only played 12 games, but he is just so impressive when he’s out there. I have to rank him as my top outside linebacker, but I will be taking both him and Davis on my team.


Who was snubbed?


K.J. Wright: 2024809460-300x0

He finished with 71 solo tackles, 45 assisted tackles, one sack, four forced fumbles (tied for #3), and three passes defended. He played in 994 snaps and missed only four tackles.


Lavonte David:

He finished with 85 solo tackles, 62 assisted tackles (#1), three sacks, two forced fumbles, three interceptions, 13 passes defended (highest among linebackers), and a touchdown!


Inside Linebackers

Clay Matthews:

In his seventh season out of USC, Matthews has been voted to his sixth Pro Bowl. He used to be an outside linebacker, but due to the Packers having a depleted linebacker group (and them foolishly not bringing in more), Matthews was asked to move into the middle. Many say that he has thrived in this role, and I have also seen that at times. I have also seen him blow the coverage time and time again. At inside linebacker, Matthews finished with only 49 solo tackles, 17 assisted tackles, 6.5 sacks, one interception, and one pass defended. He is an extremely athletic guy that is great at rushing the passer, but I unfortunately wouldn’t trust Matthews to do anything else for my team.


Bobby Wagner: Bobby+Wagner+Seattle+Seahawks+v+New+York+Giants+1Z0u37Ai1tnl

In only his fourth season out of Utah State, Wagner has been one of the best young linebackers in the game. He missed one game this season, but still finished with 67 solo tackles, 47 assisted tackles, 0.5 sack, two forced fumbles, defended seven passes, and scored two touchdowns!


NaVorro Bowman: 

After missing the entire 2014 season to rehab his knee, Bowman had one of the best bounce-back years we have seen! He was voted to his third Pro Bowl, fourth first-team All-Pro, and was the combined and solo tackles leader in the league. The most impressive stat to me was that he played in all 16 games. He finished this great season with 116 solo tackles, 38 assisted tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and defended two passes.


Luke Kuechly: 


I don’t think there is any question who the best linebacker in the NFL is anymore–it’s Luke Kuechly. In his fourth year out of Boston College, he was voted to his third consecutive Pro Bowl, third consecutive first-team All-Pro, he was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week four times (franchise record), and he has many other awards and accomplishments from the three years prior. He missed three games this season, but he still finished with 76 solo tackles, 42 assisted tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, four interceptions, one touchdown, and ten passes defended. When opposing quarterbacks targeted his man, he held them to a passer rating of 57.8. This has been the easiest pick out of all the position groups for me. I don’t even have to think twice! The best inside linebacker in the game is Luke Kuechly, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.


Who was snubbed?


Derrick Johnson:

He finished with 95 solo tackles (#7), 21 assisted tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions, and eight passes defended. Sometimes when there are three great linebackers on a team, one unfortunately is undervalued.


D’Qwell Jackson:

He finished with 89 solo tackles (#10), 61 assisted tackles (#2), three sacks, one forced fumble, one interception, nine passes defended, and a touchdown!

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