Ranking the 10 best linebackers in the NFL in 2022


Darius Leonard Alvin Kamara
Feb 6, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; NFC running back Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints (41) runs with the ball against AFC inside linebacker Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts (53)during the Pro Bowl football game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Nowadays, listing the best linebackers in the NFL is a who’s who list of some of the best overall defensive players in the league.

Interior linebackers, in particular, have been a little devalued in recent years, but in ranking the top NFL players this season, there are a few of the best inside linebackers in 2022 making an appearance.

Of course, many of the top linebackers in the NFL in 2022 and going to be top-flight pass-rushers who are among the best outside linebackers in 2022.

Best linebackers in NFL

With so many great options, ranking the top linebackers in 2022 is no easy task. However, we tried our best to put together the NFL preseason rankings of the top linebackers.

Granted, there is plenty of room for debate, but this is how we ranked the 10 best linebackers in the NFL ahead of the 2022 season. 

10. Eric Kendricks

Eric Kendricks saw his stock drop a little in 2020 after missing a few games to injury. But the 2021 campaign was a good reminder of why he’s one of the best linebackers in the league. There’s rarely any drop-off in his performance, and that’s coming from a guy who’s now been in the league for seven years.

Unfortunately, Kendricks remains a little underrated, only making the Pro Bowl once in those seven seasons. However, there’s no doubt he’ll be among the top linebackers in 2022.

9. Deion Jones

Playing in Atlanta for a subpar team has no doubt hurt Deion Jones a little, as he hasn’t been to the Pro Bowl since 2017. But outside of an injury-plagued 2018 season, his performance hasn’t seen much of a drop-off.

Granted, he hasn’t quite reached the same level as his first two seasons in the league. But Jones has still managed to play at a high level over the last few seasons, collecting 6.5 sacks and 12 defended passes over the last two seasons, which is impressive since the Atlanta defense is usually playing from behind. Jones always stands out on the field and still deserves to be considered among the top linebackers in the league.

8. Lavonte David

It’s hard to explain why Lavonte David has just one Pro Bowl appearance and three All-Pro selections over the first 10 seasons of his career. He’s been a stalwart on the Tampa defense over the last decade and a standout linebacker going back to his college days at Nebraska when he was a First-Team All-American twice and finished his career as Big Ten Linebacker of the Year.

Despite missing a handful of games last season, David has rarely been hurt during his career and has averaged over 120 tackles per season across 10 seasons, so consistency has not been a problem. Even though he’ll be 32 this season, injuries appear to be the only thing that can prevent David from being a top-tier linebacker.

7. Demario Davis

Demario Davis is another older linebacker but one who’s been at the top of his game over the last few seasons while playing for the Saints. Playing with the Jets and Browns early in his career may have kept him from gaining the recognition he deserves. But he’s been a huge part of a good New Orleans defense for the last four seasons.

In that time, he’s racked up over 100 tackles per season while also accumulating 16 sacks and 28 defended passes. In other words, he makes plays all over the field and impacts games in a multitude of ways. Davis has been named an All-Pro in three straight seasons and should be one of the top linebackers in 2022 once again.

6. Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith was impressive as a rookie, and he’s only gotten better with time. He’s been a Second-Team All-Pro in back-to-back seasons, which is no small feat for someone who’s playing on a below-average team.

Smith has grown into one of the best overall linebackers in the league, doing a little bit of everything and making plays all over the field. He’s had to carry a lot of weight on his shoulders and put the Chicago defense on his back over the last two seasons, yet he’s been able to handle it and take his game to another level.

5. Fred Warner

Fred Warner was an undervalued part of the San Francisco defense during his first couple of years in the league, but he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves over the past two seasons.

He’s been a consistent tackling machine over his first four NFL seasons, averaging 126 tackles per season despite few sacks, interceptions, or forced fumbles. He may not be the flashiest player on our list, but there’s no question he’s one of the top linebackers in 2022.

4. Devin White

Just three seasons into his career, Devin White is already one of the premier linebackers in the NFL. He was something special during the 2020 season, amassing 140 tackles and nine sacks and then capping it off with an interception in the Super Bowl to seal a victory for the Bucs.

While his sack numbers were down last season, White was no less important or impactful for the Tampa defense while earning a Pro Bowl invitation. He’s the man in the middle of the defense who makes everything happen for the Bucs. At age 24, he already has three years of experience under his belt, which is why White is an excellent candidate to be among the elite linebackers in the NFL this season.

3. Darius Leonard

Darius Leonard winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2018 was a surprise, but it’s turned out to be anything but a fluke. He’s now earned All-Pro honors in all four of his seasons in the league and has been a Pro Bowler in three straight seasons.

Leonard even led the league with eight forced fumbles last year while also showing incredible consistency with 122 tackles. The only drawback last year is that Leonard didn’t record a sack.

However, he’s still a well-rounded linebacker who plays the pass well and makes plays all over the field, so he doesn’t need a ton of sacks to be among the NFL’s elite linebackers.

2. Bobby Wagner

Bobby Wagner has spent most of the last decade among the best linebackers in the NFL, and there’s still no reason to expect that to change in 2022. The only thing that will be different is that Wagner is now with the Rams and not the Seahawks. But he’s still the same player who’s been to the Pro Bowl in eight straight seasons and has been named an All-Pro in eight straight seasons, leading the NFL in tackles twice during that span.

It was easy to forget about him in 2021 because the Seattle defense isn’t what it used to be. But Wagner racked up a career-high 170 tackles last year, so even at age 32, there’s no reason to think he’ll start to slow down.

1. Micah Parsons

Based on his rookie season, it’s possible that Micah Parsons will end up being one of the greatest defensive players of all time.

Admittedly, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves with a prediction like that. But that’s how impressive Parsons was in 2021, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and being named a First-Team All-Pro.

He made plays all over the field last year, racking up 13 sacks, three passes defended, and three forced fumbles. With a year of experience under his belt, it’s possible that Parsons could be even better this year, making him a legitimate contender for Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2022. 





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Feb 6, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; NFC running back Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints (41) runs with the ball against AFC inside linebacker Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts (53)during the Pro Bowl football game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Nowadays, listing the best linebackers in the NFL…