12 Best Linebackers in NFL Today

This article discusses the 12 best linebackers in NFL today who have taken the defensive position by storm. 

Linebackers make up the middle ground to stop the runner and to create a defensive back. They are divided into three types, middle, inside, and outside linebackers.

Bobby Wagner
Bobby Wagner (Source: KOMO News)

The middle linebacker is known as “Mike,” the quarterback of the defense.

Several elite linebackers in the league astonish the crowd with their enthusiasm and skills. So, let’s start with the 12 linebackers who have created a buzz in the industry currently.

12 Best Linebackers in NFL Today

Let us have a peek at the overview of the list before we get into the details. The information has been gathered from NFL and Wikipedia. 

Name of the players Team
1. Bobby Wagner Seattle Seahawks
2. Fred Warner San Francisco 49ers
3. Lavonte David Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Eric Kendricks Minnesota Vikings
5. Darius Leonard Indianapolis Colts
6. Demario Davis New Orleans Saints
7. Deion Jones Atlanta Falcons
8. Roquan Smith Chicago Bears
9. Devin White Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. Blake Martinez New York Giants
11. Dont’a Hightower New England Patriots
12. Alexander Johnson Denver Broncos

12. Alexander Johnson

  • Current Team: Denver Broncos
  • NFL Draft: 2018
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 234 Tackles and 4.5 Sacks

Alexander James Johnson is the Denver Broncos linebacker who got drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft. Before starting his professional career, Johnson played college football for the Texans Quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Even though he was recruited in 2018, he didn’t start to play professionally until 2019. He started his career with a match against the Los Angeles Chargers. In his rookie season, he was named Pro Football Focus’s number four rated linebacker. 

His 2021 season statistics secured 234 tackles, 4.5 sacks with four forced fumbles, and one interception.

11. Dont’a Hightower

  • Current Team: New England Patriots
  • NFL Draft: 2012
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 487 Tackles and 25.5 Quarterback Sacks

Qualin Dont’a Hightower is an American professional football linebacker of the New England Patriots. Hightower was drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft as the Patriot’s 25th pick in the 1st round.

Hightower is a three times Super Bowl Champion and a two times Pro Bowl. He won the Super Bowl XLIX, LI, and LII in 2014, 2016, and 2018. 

Dont'a Hightower
Dont’a Hightower (Source: al.com)

His professional career started in 2012 as their third linebacker. Hightower signed a $7.8 million contract with the Patriots, which lasted for four years.

Furthermore, in 2015 he signed a one-year contract extension, and in 2017, he signed a four-year deal worth $36 million approximately.

In the 2021 NFL, he scored 487 tackles with one interception. Moreover, he recorded 25.5 quarterback sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 17 pass deflections.

10. Blake Martinez

  • Current Team: New York Giants
  • NFL Draft: 2016
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 686 Tackles and 13 Sacks

Blake Martinez from the New York Giants was drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. Martinez played for the Packers from 2016 to 2019. In 2020, he signed a $30 million contract with the Giants for three years. 

Moreover, Rivals.com rated him a three-star inside linebacker and sixth-best by the experts of the NFL Draft. Furthermore, in 2017, Martinez was named the NFL tackles co-leader and completed the season with 144 tackles. 

Additionally, his NFL 2021 statistics consists of 686 tackles with 13 sacks. Similarly, he scored 22 pass deflections, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. 

Also, read the 12 Best NFL Running Backs in the World Right Now.

9. Devin White

  • Current Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • NFL Draft: 2019
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 272 Tackles and 11.5 Sacks

Devin White of the Buccaneers is a Super Bowl LV champion and a second-team All-Pro 2020 star. In his debut year, he received the PFWA All-Rookie Team 2019 and became the highest-drafted linebacker in college history. 

In 2019, he signed a $29 million contract of four years with the Buccaneers and began his professional career with a game against the 49ers. During the 2019 season, he concluded with 91 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Similarly, he made the most fumbles by a rookie in a season in the 2019 NFL. Moreover, in the 2020 season, he recorded a total of 140 tackles and nine sacks.

Finally, in his 2021 NFL season, he recorded 272 tackles with 11.5 sacks. Furthermore, he made nine pass deflections, four forced fumbles, five forced recoveries, and two defensive TDs. 

8. Roquan Smith

  • Current Team: Chicago Bears
  • NFL Draft: 2018
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 436 Tackles and 13 Sacks

Roquan Smith, the Chicago Bears inside linebackers, was finally drafted in the 2018 NFL Draft. In his debut year, he became the receiver of the PFWA All-Rookie Team.

Before he began his professional career, he played college football for the University of California and Georgia. He received numerous awards during his college days like Butkus Award, SEC Champion, SEC Game MVP, and First-team All-SEC. 

Raquan Smith
Raquan Smith (Source: Chicago Sun-Times)

Additionally, he signed a contract worth $18.5 million with the Bears in 2017 for four years. Also, he renewed the contract for a year in 2021, worth $9.7 million to play in the NFL 2022. 

In the 2021 NFL season, he recorded 436 tackles, 13 sacks, and, 17 pass deflections with one defensive touchdown. 

7. Deion Jones

  • Current Team: Atlanta Falcons
  • NFL Draft: 2016
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 573 Tackles and 8.5 Quarterback Sacks

Deion Jones of the Atlanta Jones takes the 7th spot on the list of best linebackers in the NFL. He was drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft and signed a $4.5 million contract with the Falcons

He completed his rookie year with 108 tackles, two touchdowns, and 11 pass deflections. Also, he acquired the 20th position for the overall off-the-ball linebackers of 2016. 

Additionally, in 2019 he signed another four-year deal worth $57 million with the Falcons. During the NFL season of the same year, he concluded with a 27-yard touchdown. In addition to a solid record, he also won the NFC Defensive player of the year. 

Finally, in the 2021 NFL season, he recorded 573 tackles with 8.5 sacks and 5 defensive touchdowns. 

6. Demario Davis

  • Current Team: New Orleans Saints
  • NFL Draft: 2012
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 980 Tackles and 29.5 Sacks

The next on our list of the best NFL linebackers of 2021 is Demario Davis from Collins, Mississippi. Currently, he is the inside linebacker of the New Orleans Saints. Moreover, he has also played for the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns.

He has had remarkable records from the beginning of his career, with 36 tackles and three starts in his debut year.

In 2018, he signed a $24 million contract with the New Orleans Saints for three years. The same year Davis received the title of the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. 

Throughout his 2019 and 2020 seasons, he has recorded a total of 21 tackles and three sacks.

However, in the 2021 NFL, he displayed his best efforts with 970 tackles, 29.5 sacks, three fumbles, and 38 pass deflections. 

Also, read Ranking 15 best centers in NFL of this Year.

5. Darius Leonard

  • Current Team: Indianapolis Colts
  • NFL Draft: 2018
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 461 Tackles and15 Sacks

Now we begin the players who have secured their spot in the top 5 best NFL linebackers today. Darius Leonard doesn’t have a Super Bowl yet, but that doesn’t deter the fact that he is the two times Pro Bowl holder in 2019 and 2020. 

His great honors are two times First-team All-Pro in 2018 and 2020, Second-team All-Pro in 2019, and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.

Moreover, he also won the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year two times in 2016 and 2017.

Darius Leonard
Darius Leonard (Source: Twitter)

Regarding his 2020 NFL statistics, he recorded nine tackles in week 8 and 10 tackles in week 17. In 2021, Leonard signed a contract extension with the Colts worth $99.25 million for five years. 

Finally, in the 2021 NFL season, he recorded 461 tackles, 15 sacks, and one defensive touchdown. 

4. Eric Kendricks

  • Current Team: Minnesota Vikings
  • NFL Draft: 2015
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 699 Tackles and 11.0 Sacks

Eric Kendricks from Clovis, California, was drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Kendricks played for the Vikings from 2015 to the present. In 2018, he signed a $50 million contract with the Vikings for five years. 

Moreover, Rivals.com rated him a three-star inside linebacker and number 40 by the experts of the NFL Draft. Furthermore, in 2019 he received the Pro bowl and First-team All-Pro.

Additionally, his NFL 2021 statistics consists of 699 tackles with 11.0 sacks. Similarly, he scored 43 pass deflections, eight interceptions, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns.

3. Lavonte David

  • Current Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • NFL Draft: 2012
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 1159 Tackles and 25 Sacks

Lavonte David from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a Super Bowl LV Champion and a Pro Bowl winner. His robust defensive strategies and strength made him the Big Ten Linebacker of 2011 and Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of 2010. 

David has played for the Buccaneers since 2012 and in 2015 signed a contract extension of five years worth $50 million. Again, in 2021 he signed a two-year extension with them worth $25 million. 

Additionally, his performance at the 2020 NFL season earned him the NFC Defensive Player of the Year.

In the 2021 NFL season, he scored a staggering 1,159 tackles with 25 sacks and three defensive touchdowns. 

2. Fred Warner

  • Current Team: San Francisco 49ers
  • NFL Draft: 2018
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 420 Tackles and 4 Sacks

The San Fransico 49ers linebacker Fred Warner is the perfect example of the ability the player showcases in the draft process. Now, he is becoming the great linebacker of the current time. 

His athleticism, strategic coverage abilities, sense of pressuring the passer, and overall development in his agility have made him the second-best NFL linebacker today. 

In 2018, Fred signed a four-year deal with the 49ers worth $4 million approximately. He completed his rookie season with 124 tackles and positioning at the 12th position overall. 

Finally, in 2021, he signed a five-year extension worth $95 million with the 49ers. His 2021 NFL statistics include 420 tackles, four sacks, and one touchdown. 

1. Bobby Wagner

  • Current Team: Seattle Seahawks
  • NFL Draft: 2012
  • 2021 NFL Statistics: 1292 Tackles and 23.5 Sacks

With his powerplay and strategic skills, Bobby Joseph Wagner has made him the best NFL linebacker today. Ever since his debut with the Seattle Seahawks, he played for them. 

In the 2020 NFL season, he recorded 11 tackles and one sack with 37-27 wins. Moreover, he was also awarded the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his astounding performance. 

Best NFL linebacker today Bobby Wagner
Best NFL linebacker today Bobby Wagner

Moreover, in the 2021 NFL, he recorded 1292 tackles, 23.5 sacks, 57 pass deflections, 10 interceptions, and four defensive touchdowns.

Overall, in his career, he has won the Super Bowl XLVIII, six times First-team All-Pro, seven times Pro Bowl, two times NFL tackles leader, and Senior Bowl MVP.

Also, he received the Steve Largent Award and three times First-team All-WAC. 

Make sure to read about The 30 Richest NFL Players in the World

To summarize

Finally, we conclude the list of the best NFL linebackers of the current time. Did your favorite linebacker make it to the list?

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