Monday, June 24, 2013
Ranking the linebackers in the AFC West
By Bill Williamson
Our AFC West positional rankings continue with a look at a strong group of linebackers:
1. Von Miller, Denver: A complete player. One of the top defensive players in the NFL.
2. Tamba Hali, Kansas City: Still a strong pass-rush presence.
3. Justin Houston, Kansas City: A dynamic player. His star is rising.
4. Derrick Johnson, Kansas City: Steady, underrated tackles machine.
5. Donald Butler, San Diego: He is flashing big-time skills. The Chargers need to re-sign him.
6. Dwight Freeney, San Diego: The Chargers hope he can still be a sack master.
7. Wesley Woodyard, Denver: He had a tremendous 2012 season. Good overall player.
8. Jarret Johnson, San Diego: Hard-nosed player who fits the defense well.
9. Nick Roach, Oakland: Raiders are thrilled about this free-agent acquisition. Defense could begin with him.
10. Manti Te'o, San Diego: Chargers expect instant production from this instinctive rookie.
11. Shaun Phillips, Denver: The Broncos think he can still help as a pass-rusher.
12. Kevin Burnett, Oakland: Smart player who helps the Raiders.
13. Kaluka Maiava, Oakland: He might not start, but will help.
14. D.J. Smith, San Diego: Former Green Bay player could be a steal for the Chargers.
15. Miles Burris, Oakland: Even if he doesn’t start, he will find a way to help.
16. Danny Trevathan, Denver: This kid looks like he could be a starter for years to come.
17. Sio Moore, Oakland: I could see the 2013 third-round pick in the top 10 next year.
18. Nate Irving, Denver: He gets first crack in the middle for the Broncos.
19. Nico Johnson, Kansas City: The Chiefs like the fourth-rounder -- and he could start.
20. Stewart Bradley, Denver: He’s there if Irving fails.
21. Larry English, San Diego: Clock is ticking for the 2009 first-round pick.
22. Akeem Jordan, Kansas City: Could be insurance if Nico Johnson isn’t ready.
23. Steve Johnson, Denver: At the very least, he’s a solid special-teamer.
Second-year San Diego outside linebacker Melvin Ingram would have been ranked in the top eight to 10 had he not suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in May.