THIS STOPS ME FROM COMITTING SUICIDE BECAUSE…….I love watching great players with great hair i.e. Troy and Clay.
This is the 3rd part of my top 5 rankings for every position in the NFL.
It will culminate in an overall top 10 players in the NFL list.
Previous: Top 5 CBs – https://minsminions.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/nflbestcbs/
Many NFL team’s transition towards the 3-4 defense has meant that the OLB position has become the key position for many defenses in the league. Thus, nowadays this position is loaded with talent. Pass rushing ability is obviously important but you need all-round ability to be a cornerstone. I only have one 4-3 OLB on this list. 10 years ago the 3-4:4-3 ratio would have been the other way around with players like Bulluck and Brooks. I have a mixture of players in my top 5: all-rounded players (one with tremendous athletic ability and the other known for his toughness) as well as relentless pass-rushing impact players at 3 and 5. It was difficult to leave off many from this list with Shaun Phillips, Terrell Suggs, Chad Greenway, Elvis Dumervil (although he is going back to the 4-3) and Lamarr Woodley amongst others deserving recognition.
Note: I thought Brian Cushing was one his way to be the best 4-3 OLB in the league before he got caught cheating.
5. Tamba Hali – Kansas City Chiefs #91
The ‘Tambahawk’ is the least well-rounded player on this list. In fact, he is a pure pass rush specialist. However, I believe he deserves his place. , The only consistent pass-rushing threat on the young Chiefs team, he still manages to continuously disrupt the passing game. He had 14.5 sacks last season (his first double digit sack season) because he finally learnt to finish plays and get the QB on the ground. Armed with a great story of his family escaping war-torn Liberia, he has tremendous upside and expect to hear his name a lot more as he enters his prime.
4. Lance Briggs – Chicago Bears #55
Briggs is the only 4-3 linebacker on this list. He is a just a fantastic player. Fast, instinctive and versatile, his partnership with Brian Urlacher allowed the Bears to consistently have one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL for many years. Some Bears fans rate him higher than Urlacher. Although he is technically better, as Urlacher’s return from injury last season showed, Urlacher is more of an impact player than Briggs. He looks to still be in tremendous shape as he begins his football life in his 30s.
3. Clay Matthews – Green Bay Packers #52
Armed with some of the best nicknames in the NFL, ‘Thor’ or ‘Bloodline’ is one of the future superstars of this league. Instantly recognisable with his hair and playing style, he is a huge-impact, playmaking OLB. His best traits are his speed and relentless. His ridiculous 10 yard split at the combine of 1.49 seconds shows up on the field. To get that into perspective, in that combine, only 9 cornerbacks had a better 10 yard split. He can be inconsistent against the run but his pass rushing skills are extraordinary and his coverage ability his excellent. He is always around the ball and makes game-changing players consistently. He was one of the cornerstones in the Packers’ Superbowl run and will be the cornerstone of a potential future dynasty.
2. James Harrison – Pittsburgh Steelers #92
Undrafted and apparently undersized, scouts seriously underrated his athletic ability, strength and most of all toughness. He is arguably the toughest player in the NFL and has developed into an all-pro, all-rounded defensive force. At less than 6’0” but 242lbs he plays with great leverage and power and by getting under the shoulder pads many offensive tackles he dominates the line of scrimmage. He is tremendous against both the pass and the run and he is also very good in zone coverage. Since getting the mental part of his game together in the 2007 season, in 4 seasons he has 45 sacks, 2×100 tackle seasons and one 98 tackle season. Although he is now already 30, due to lack of wear and tear he has many more years left to be a dominating force.
1.DeMarcus Ware – Dallas Cowboys #94
DeMarcus Ware is the best OLB in the league. He is the best pass-rushing OLB as well as the most all-rounded OLB in the NFL. He has already led the league in sacks in 2 seasons. He has prototypical size at 6’4” 262lbs and reminds me so much of Charles Haley in his prime. DeMarcus Ware will be just as good and maybe better than the HOF-worthy former Cowboy. A fantastic athlete, he has 80 sacks in 6 seasons and is consistently strong against the run and the Cowboys have no qualms about leaving him in both man and zone coverage. Although I would like to see him make more game-changing impact players with his ability, he is the prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker that any 3-4 team is looking for.
Overrated: Scott Fujita – Now a member of the Cleveland Browns, even during the superbowl run of 2009/2010 whilst at New Orleans Saints he was an OLB just not athletic enough to be an impact player.
Underrated: Daryl Smith – Vastly underrated on a defense strong against the run. He is a versatile, aggressiveoutside linebacker who consistently disrupts the opponents’ running game.
One For The Future: Cameron Wake – Although he already broke out last season, the athletic freak from the CFL has a lot more to give. Already 29 years old, he has only had 2 seasons in the NFL after crafting his body into a pass-rushing beast. He will get better against the run with more game time. I foresee 5 more years of elite play.
Greatest of All-Time (GOAT): Lawrence Taylor – The original LT is arguably the best defensive player to ever play the game. He changed how offenses were structured and his blend of athletic ability, instincts and relentlessness will be difficult to find for a long time.