Ranking The Linebacker Groups In The NFC North

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In these reviews I will be going over how each position group did individually then compare them against the rest of the NFC North teams to see how the upcoming season might go for the group. This time I’ll be covering the linebackers in the NFC North.

Bears

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The Bears linebackers had a busy year with a wide variety of them getting good game time and putting up good numbers. Christian Jones and Danny Trevathan are both good NFL linebackers and performed well for them during the season. However they have lost Christian Jones, Jerrell Freeman, Willie Young and Pernell McPhee during the offseason so they are losing a good number of their core players.

Losing arguably their most productive linebacker in Christian Jones to a division rival in the Lions is an extra tough blow for them to take. They have addressed these losses in their first and fourth round picks in the draft with Roquan Smith and Joel Iyiegbuniwe. They have good depth at the inside position and I can see Roquan becoming an elite linebacker in the league quickly. However with outside linebackers behind Leonard Floyd they have some depth issues that might see them struggle next season.

PLAYER POS GP GS STK ATK CMB SACK INT PD FUM FREC
Christian Jones ILB 16 11 60 30 90 2.0 0 2 1 1
Danny Trevathan ILB 12 12 60 29 89 2.0 1 6 1 1
Nick Kwiatkoski ILB 11 6 37 12 49 2.0 0 2 1 0
Sam Acho OLB 16 12 29 16 45 3.0 0 1 1 0
Leonard Floyd OLB 10 10 24 10 34 4.5 0 2 0 1
Pernell McPhee OLB 13 5 20 1 21 4.0 0 2 1 0
John Timu ILB 11 2 12 4 16 0 0 1 0 0
Jerrell Freeman ILB 1 1 7 3 10 0 0 0 0 0
Willie Young OLB 4 2 4 3 7 2.0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 253 108 361 20.5 1 16 5 3

Lions

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The Lions performance last season at linebacker was pretty bad. Jarrad Davis struggled to make an impact on games and you could see that he was struggling during his rookie season. Tahir Whitehead was a solid tackler but was terrible in coverage. Paul Worrilow on the whole wasn’t effective at anything. There aren’t many good points but one shining light was that Davis improved dramatically during the final few games of the season and should be in for a solid second NFL season. With the loss of Whitehead in the offseason the linebacker group was due some remodelling. The situation was addressed with the additions of Christian Jones and Devon Kennard, both of who are strong starting calibre linebackers. I believe Kennard will be a huge addition to the defensive side as a whole.

PLAYER POS GP GS STK ATK CMB SACK INT PD FUM FREC
Tahir Whitehead OLB 16 16 78 32 110 1.0 1 3 0 4
Jarrad Davis MLB 14 14 65 31 96 2.0 1 4 1 1
Paul Worrilow OLB 13 8 20 10 30 0 0 1 0 1
Jalen Reeves-Maybin LB 14 0 25 5 30 0.5 0 2 1 0
Steve Longa OLB 15 0 12 1 13 0 0 0 0 0
Nick Bellore ILB 13 2 9 3 12 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 209 82 291 3.5 1 10 2 6

Packers

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Nick Perry not being available for around half the defensive snaps was devastating for the Packers last year, it resulted in Matthews having a down season with no pressure coming opposite him or him having to go inside and not play his preferred position of outside. Blake Martinez had a good season and if he improves next year, with their addition in the draft of Oren Burks. They haven’t made many upgrades for the upcoming season but having Nick Perry back for hopefully all 16 games will be like having a new player.

PLAYER POS GP GS STK ATK CMB SACK INT PD FUM FREC
Blake Martinez ILB 16 16 96 48 144 1.0 1 9 1 2
Jake Ryan ILB 15 12 52 29 81 1.0 0 0 1 1
Clay Matthews OLB 14 14 27 16 43 7.5 0 2 1 1
Nick Perry OLB 12 11 23 15 38 7.0 0 0 1 1
Kyler Fackrell OLB 16 2 22 6 28 3.0 0 0 0 1
Ahmad Brooks OLB 12 5 13 6 19 1.5 0 2 0 0
Vince Biegel OLB 9 0 11 5 16 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 244 125 369 21 1 13 4 6

Vikings

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Kendricks and Barr are one of the premier linebacker duos in the league, with Barr putting another pro bowl worthy season. They rank first when it comes to least yardage gained from opposing running backs when catching which shows how good their coverage was. Combining that with a strong performance from rookie Ben Gedeon they are a great group for their 4-3 defense scheme. They haven’t made any additions to their linebacker group this offseason so if they get any injuries they will struggle.

PLAYER POS GP GS STK ATK CMB SACK INT PD FUM FREC
Eric Kendricks MLB 16 16 67 46 113 1.0 1 7 0 0
Anthony Barr OLB 16 16 52 23 75 1.0 0 6 0 0
Ben Gedeon OLB 16 9 23 14 37 0 0 0 0 0
Emmanuel Lamur LB 16 0 9 8 17 0 0 1 0 1
Kentrell Brothers OLB 16 0 9 4 13 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 160 95 255 2 1 14 0 1

Final verdict

Lions – 4th

You’d have a hard time convincing me that last season the linebacker group wasn’t the worst in the NFC North. Tight ends were a huge trouble for Detroit with them ranking 26th vs defending against tight ends. The additions in the offseason should see them improve in the coming season, with an improved scheme and hopefully improved defensive line play the linebackers should have an easier job as well.

Packers – 3rd

Not far ahead of the Lions here but managing to get 21 sacks as a unit isn’t a bad return in a season. They ranked better vs tight ends but worse against receiving backs. It was a toss-up between 4th and 3rd to be honest and I think with the lack of additions next season the Packers will rank dead last.

Bears – 2nd

The Bears had a good core when it came to the linebacker position with good depth and versatility. Christian Jones and Danny Trevathan were a good core. With Roquan Smith being added the partnership between him, Travathan and Floyd could be a scary one next season.

Vikings – 1st

Having a pro bowl linebacker like Anthony Barr combined with Eric Kendricks is enough to give them the number 1 spot. The Vikings defense is their strength and having these two at the heart of it explains why. They ranked second vs tight ends and first vs receiving backs which is an amazing achievement. If the unit have another injury free season they will once again be at the top of the pile.

Thanks for checking out the article everyone. Go Lions! Let me know what you think on Twitter @Alex_Watt_Lions and be sure to join the community on the Detroit Lions subreddit.

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About the Author

Alex Watt
Alex is a Detroit Lions fan from the UK, his love for the Lions came about from the fact he loves an underdog story and he believes the Lions embody that pretty well! He has a particular love for the defensive side of the ball and he favourite player is Darius "Big Play" Slay, although he has a soft spot for Glover Quin. When he isn't writing for the DetroitLionsPodcast he enjoys gym and sports, playing American Football himself.