Following my two articles Grading NFL Defensive Lines, and Grading NFL Secondaries, I have since revamped my visuals and went on to produce some NFL linebacker grades, which I now will share with you. Keep in mind these are grades based on last season, and do not take into account plays who have changed teams.
These grades are called “game scores” which are inspired by Bill James’ MLB pitcher game scores. Here is how it works:
- -1 for each 1st down allowed when on the field
- .2 points for each QB hit
- 1 point for each tackle
- 1 point for each pass defended
- 1.5 points for each TFL
- 2 points for each sack
- 2 points for each fumble forced
- 4 points for each interception
- 4 points for each fumble recovered
The idea of this ranking is that you cover a complete set of downs for every four tackles. Each other point total is based on this idea.
To get us started, let’s take a look at the AFC rankings (each point represents a LB on the team). Some things to note:
- The Bengals gave a strong linebacker duo, with the best two in the AFC North
- The AFC East has the highest division average, with the Jets (surprising, right?) and the Bills leading the pack
- The best graded LB in the AFC is Denzel Perryman on the Raiders (162)
Now let’s take a look at the NFC LB rankings. Some key things to note:
- The Lions have very little help from their LBs. All three didn’t even come close to the division average
- The Eagles impress, again. With the best LB pair in the East (among other strong factors), the Eagles are certainly a favorable pick to win the division
- The NFC West is by far and away the strongest LB group in the NFC
Now, let’s put everything together to look at average team grades and cumulative grades. The Seahawks, led by Bobby Wagner head the top of the list, followed by the Falcons and Eagles which is somewhat of a surprise (the birds take the leaderboard). The Jaguars and Jets also are higher than to be expected–good things to come?
Last, it’s time to take a look at the individual LB rankings. If you didn’t know his name before, now you will. Foyesade Oluokun, Falcons LB who has since been moved to the (already powerful LB squad) Jaguars. With three interceptions, two sacks and three TFLs, Oluokun certainly impressed last season. The Seattle LB duo between Brooks and Wagner also has been split up, as Wagner has been moved to the Rams, which is a much-needed pick-up for them as their top-ranked LB was at #34. Darius Leonard also comes in lower than expected at #15. The ball-hawking LB recorded 0 sacks and 4 TFLs last season.
That’s all for this article, stay tuned for more articles soon!