NFL: Top 10 Inside Linebackers Entering 2019 Season
Inside linebackers are responsible for stopping the run and playing in pass coverage. They have a lot more responsibilities than outside linebackers do. Who are the Top 10 inside linebackers entering the 2019 NFL season?
10. Anthony Hitchens, Kansas City Chiefs
Hitchens had the fifth most tackles in the NFL last season with 135, but he didn’t do much else other than that. Anthony Hitchens also forced one fumble. He had a breakout season though after being with the Dallas Cowboys the year before.
9. Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings
Kendricks was one of the anchors on the Minnesota Vikings defense last season. There were times where it got bad, but it was rare for him to have a bad week. Eric Kendricks recorded 108 tackles. He also had nine pass deflections, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble for a recovery.
8. Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers
Warner is only 22 years old and he did a very good job as a rookie. He could be one of the anchors on this defense once again this season. San Francisco has not been to the postseason since the 2014 season. Warner recorded 124 tackles as a rookie last season. He also forced one fumble and recovered one fumble.
7. Blake Martinez, Green Bay Packers
Martinez was a tackling machine last season. He had the second most tackles in the NFL with 144, but Blake Martinez did not make an impact at all in the pass rushing game or in the pass coverage game.
6. Mason Foster, Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins strength on the defensive side of the ball is the linebacker position. Foster had a monster season last year with 131 tackles. He also had six pass deflections, two interceptions, and recovered two fumbles. The only thing is he is 30 years old and it is possible Mason Foster could take a step back this season, but Washington will need him at his best once again in 2019.
5. Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys
When Smith was healthy last season, the Dallas Cowboys linebacking core was really good and Leighton Vander Esch is going to be a stud for a long time to come as well. Jaylon Smith is explosive and athletic. He is solid in pass coverage and stopping the run. Smith recorded 121 tackles last season. He also forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, and one of them was for a defensive touchdown.
4. Cory Littleton, Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams weakness on the defensive side of the ball last was the linebacker position, but Littleton did not seem to be a weakness at that position, however. He recorded 125 tackles last season. Cory Littleton had 16 pass deflections, three interceptions, and one of those was returned for a touchdown.
3. Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills
Edmunds is only 21 years old and he was a rookie last season. He did so many things well as a rookie and Tremaine Edmunds will be the anchor on this Buffalo Bills defense for a long time to come. He recorded 121 tackles last season. Edmunds had 14 pass deflections, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. He is very strong and plays hard on every down.
2. Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
Wagner deserves a ton of credit for not letting the Seattle Seahawks defense completely falter last season. Seattle was supposed to be one of the worst teams in football, but Bobby Wagner showed a ton of leadership and he was one of the reasons why the Seahawks reached the postseason as a wild card team in the NFC. Wagner recorded 138 tackles last season. He also had 12 pass deflections, one interception, and that interception was returned for a touchdown. Bobby Wagner also forced two fumbles and recovered one of them.
1. Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
Kuechly is hands down the best inside linebacker in the game of football right now. He recorded 132 tackles last season. Luke Kuechly also had two sacks, seven pass deflections, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recoveries. He is also fundamentally sound as any inside linebacker. It is scary that Kuchely is only 28 years old and he still has room to improve as well.
Other players I thought about putting on this list was Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears, Avery Williamson of the New York Jets, Todd Davis of the Denver Broncos, Wesley Woodyard of the Tennessee Titans, Zach Cunningham of the Houston Texans, Myles Jack of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets.
Who are your top 10 inside linebackers in the NFL? Leave a comment below.
Rumble your way to IroniqMedia for all of your NFL coverage.
Follow Glenn on Twitter @glennkaplan13.