The league is changing before our eyes. Quarterbacks are getting better, running backs are becoming elite receivers, tight ends are getting more athletic, and offensive linemen are getting faster. No single position has seen such a spike in value as off-ball linebackers have. Defenses that have elite linebackers are getting significantly better in each facet of defense. The pass rush, coverage, run-stopping, and even the movement of the defense as a whole improves with an elite linebacker.
The first names that come to mind when thinking of linebackers who completely elevate their defenses are guys like Devin White, Demario Davis, Darius Leonard, Fred Warner, Bobby Wagner, and Eric Kendricks. In the Super Bowl, we saw how Devin White took over the game and shut down one of the most prolific offenses ever. It is hard to find guys who can fill a role as a pass rusher, pre-snap captain, run stopper, and cover man, and when a team does, their respective defenses play at a much higher level. There is a reason the Saints resigned Davis, the Seahawks resigned Bobby Wagner, and the Vikings resigned Eric Kendricks, it’s because teams would be foolish to let game-changers like these hit the open market.
Especially after the Devin White show in the Super Bowl, teams are hungry to find that defensive staple. Micah Parsons, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jamin Davis, Zaven Collins, and even Cameron McGrone are going to be of higher value than most think due to the value of off ball linebackers. Look for teams early in the 2021 NFL draft to take linebackers. The league is a changing.