Honorable Mentions: Lavonte David, Terrelle Suggs, Anthony Barr
- Thomas Davis
2017 Stats: 15g, 1 FR, 2.5 Sacks, 52 Tackles
The veteran linebacker, Thomas Davis has been playing his best football over the last 3 years with 3 straight Pro Bowl appearances and 1 All Pro team. When playing with Luke Kuechley, Davis and the Panthers are one of the deadliest defenses in the league. Recently Davis was suspended for violating the leagues PED policy and will be serving a 4-game suspension. At 35 years old, the tackling machine Davis may be in his last season, but he will be determined to go out on top.
- Bruce Irvin
2017 Stats: 16g, 4 FF, 8 Sacks, 38 Tackles
From the terrifying Seattle defense and the Legion of Boom to the Blackhole in Oakland, Bruce Irvin has been one of the leagues top linebackers. Irvin is a physical embodiment of Raiders hardnosed football and it shows on the field. Irvin will be a guy that new coach, John Gruden, can rely on to make a stop on defense. The Raiders have a long way to go with reshaping their defense to match the quality they have on offense.
- Telvin Smith
2017 Stats: 14g, 3 INT, 1 FF, 2 FR, 2 TD, 1 Sack, 76 Tackles
In his first Pro Bowl season the quick and powerful Telvin Smith had is breakout season. Generating 6 turnovers and 2 touchdowns on the Jacksonville defense propelled them to the AFC Championship game where they fell short to the Patriots. Smith is one of many Jaguars on these series of rankings, but he could possibly be the most overlooked star on their defense. Smith will have no problem repeating his success this upcoming year and will help the Jags try and repeat their success.
- Sean Lee
2017 Stats: 11g, 1 INT, 70 Tackles
Sean Lee is a very good linebacker and is usually in or around every tackle. The 2x Pro Bowler and 1x All Pro is very injury prone having never played a full 16 games. His presence on the Cowboys defense is important as their defense seems to fall apart when he is not there. The Cowboys defense is better than average, but it will be their offense that holds them back from making the playoffs.
- Jadeveon Clowney
2017 Stats: 16g, 2 FF, 3 FR, 1 TD, 9.5 Sacks, 41 Tackles
A jack-of-all-trades type linebacker, Clowney creates major turmoil for opposing offenses. Clowney uses his amazing 6’5 270lb frame to abuse offensive linemen for a sack, but he is also able to use that size in coverage on a TE or RB. Clowney is a 2x Pro Bowler and has the luxury of playing on the other side of JJ Watt. Houston has a ton of young weapons that might just sneak them into a deep playoff run.