The Linebacker has long been one of my favorite positions to watch. Growing up a Chargers fan during the nineties, I like many of you, had to suffer through some bad years. Sure there were bright spots; the 94 season was one of them. But really, being a Chargers fan was about being a fan of the players. Guys like Rodney Harrison, Normand Hand, Natrone Means, heck even Curtis Conway! But for me personally there wasn't any Charger or player in the NFL who I loved to watch as much as Junior Seau. He was worth the price of admission. He could fire up the crowd like no other with his lightning bolt fist pump thing he did. Naturally I've become pretty fond of watching linebackers play, and Junior had a lot to do with it. So it was a lot of fun looking around at each team and coming up with what I feel are the top 5 linebackers in the league.
Here are the top 5 linebackers in the NFL, according to BOLTHYPE:
[UPDATED for the 2011 Regular season]
1. Demarcus Ware
Demarcus Ware can legitimately be considered the best linebacker in the NFL. In the past 5 seasons, he's lead the league in sacks 3 times, and was in the top 3 twice.
2. Patrick Willis
Willis is consistently among the NFL's leading tacklers and a perennial All-Pro. This past season, he also showed his ability to get to the QB with 6 sacks.
3. Clay Matthews
Matthews has emerged as one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the NFL, and he's abilities and knowledge of the game continue to expand. He'll be a force for years to come.
4. Rey Lewis
Lewis is aging, but he more than makes up for it with his on-field leadership and his experience. He'll still put you into the ground and has the stats to prove it.
5. Brian Urlacher
Urlacher bounced back after an injured 2009 and returned to form in 2010. He's still a dominant defender and remains a force to be reckoned with.
So what do you guys think? Any glaring omissions? Someone ranked way too high? Share your thoughts in the comments below [Keep in mind that the list has been updated since it was originally published in 2008]:
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