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Ranking NFC South Linebackers


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http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/12324/ranking-the-nfc-south-linebackers-2

Here is 1-3

The linebackers are next in our series of NFC South position rankings and this one took a lot longer and was way more agonizing than our previous installments on safeties and cornerbacks.

It started right at the very top because this division has two linebackers I’d put up against anybody. Everyone knows Jonathan Vilma and Jon Beason are absolutely great. But how the heck do you pick between the two? I don’t want to overdramatize this, but my gut said this was like picking between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson or Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. You make a call, but there’s a part of you that feels like you’re slighting the other guy.

For all of these rankings, I rely on conversations with coaches, personnel guys and players to make my decision. When it came down to making the call between Beason and Vilma, I reached for the phone and made even more calls. The sources are anonymous, but I called some high-ranking people that I trust most on this one and they also were torn.

I took what they said, processed it and analyzed it and came to the decision that ultimately was mine. Here it is:

Jon Beason, Panthers. What it really came down to was this: I viewed Beason and Vilma as equals in virtually every sense based on the past. These rankings are based to some degree on projections for the 2010 season and that’s where I saw a slight edge emerge. Beason is moving from middle linebacker to the weak side and that’s very significant because coordinator Ron Meeks runs a Tampa Two defense. In that scheme, the weakside linebacker takes on huge importance. Think of Derrick Brooks in the Tampa Bay glory days. Beason might not have the supporting cast around him that Brooks did, but he’s going to have a chance to make more tackles and more big plays than he did in the middle.

Jonathan Vilma, Saints. You couldn’t ask for a more complete middle linebacker and that’s a very important spot in New Orleans’ scheme. I don’t know that there’s a smarter defensive player in the division. Vilma also is a fantastic leader. Not sure if this works as a consolation prize for Vilma, but I’ll say something I never thought I would. As someone who was born and raised hearing and seeing Penn State called Linebacker U., I’ll admit Beason and Vilma have forced me to give the nod to Miami -- at least for the moment.

Curtis Lofton, Falcons. This guy makes me worry that I’ll be trying to sort out a three-way race at this time next year. Lofton had a very good rookie year, got better in his second year and everybody I talk to believes he’s ready to step to the elite level this year. Much like Vilma, he’s a middle linebacker that can do it all.

The top NFC South Safties can be found here

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/12293/ranking-the-nfc-south-safeties

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This was already posted a few days ago. But I do think by halfway thru this season those rankings will be very different. Curtis Lofton, to me, is about to become the best MLB in this division. In addition, Sean Weatherspoon is going to blow up working alongside him.

I think by week 8, this will be considered one of tbe top 3 LB Corps in the NFL.

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This was already posted a few days ago. But I do think by halfway thru this season those rankings will be very different. Curtis Lofton, to me, is about to become the best MLB in this division. In addition, Sean Weatherspoon is going to blow up working alongside him.

I think by week 8, this will be considered one of tbe top 3 LB Corps in the NFL.

It was written by Pat yesterday not a few days ago. The safeties, and cornerback rankings came out a few days ago.

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