PFF Linebacker Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season

2WFEBBY San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner (54) runs onto the field during the NFC Championship NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Scot Tucker)

• Fred Warner sits atop the list: Warner continues his reign as the NFL's top linebacker and as the captain of the 49ers' defense.

• Matt Milano, C.J. Mosley round out the top five: Milano is coming off a season-ending injury, while Mosley is in the midst of a career resurgence.

• Get a head start on fantasy football: Use PFF's fantasy football mock draft simulator to create real live mock draft simulations to get ready for your live draft!

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Continuing our series highlighting the top players in the NFL at every position heading into the 2024 season, here are the top 32 linebackers in the league.

Editor's note: Due to uncertainty regarding when Dre Greenlaw will return from an Achilles injury suffered in the Super Bowl, he has been omitted from this list.

Other Position Rankings:

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | DI | EDGE

Full Roster Rankings

1. Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers

Warner has been the gold standard at linebacker over the past four seasons, ranking as one of the position's 10 highest-graded players each year. His eight combined pass breakups and interceptions in the regular season and playoffs in 2023 were tied for the second most among linebackers.

2. Roquan Smith, Baltimore Ravens

Smith's trade to the Ravens midway through the 2022 season has taken his career to another level, with the former eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft putting together the two highest-graded years of his career since arriving in Baltimore. He missed just 6.7% of his tackle attempts in 2023, the 10th-best mark at the position.

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3. Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints

Davis has quietly been one of the best linebackers in the NFL since arriving in New Orleans in 2018, and he finished 2023 with an 89.6 PFF grade that ranked third at the position. He was one of four linebackers to earn an 80.0-plus PFF grade in both run defense and coverage.

4. Matt Milano, Buffalo Bills

Off to another strong start before suffering a season-ending injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5 last year, Milano was in attendance at OTAs this week — a good sign for his return to the field. His 83.2 PFF coverage grade was the fourth-best mark at the position in 2022.

5. C.J. Mosley, New York Jets

Coming off a career year in which he earned a 90.6 PFF coverage grade at 31 years old, Mosley is enjoying a late-career second breakout after the beginning of his Jets tenure was hindered by injury and COVID-19. He finished 2023 with 60 tackles resulting in a defensive stop and forced a pair of fumbles.

6. Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

David, 34, is coming off his lowest season-long PFF coverage grade since 2015. That being said, his 68.6 mark still ranked inside the top 25 at the position, and we only have to go back to 2022 to find him inside the top five, with his 88.0 PFF coverage grade placing second among linebackers.

7. Patrick Queen, Pittsburgh Steelers

One of the most aggressive linebackers in football since being drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, Queen has always ranked among the top players at the position in positively graded plays. Particularly impressive about his development is how he has reduced his negatively graded plays. In 2020, he earned a negative grade on 14.0% of his snaps, and he brought that number down each year, all the way to just 7.6% in 2023.

8. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Cleveland Browns

Making up for his lack of size at the position with tremendous speed and quickness, Owusu-Koramoah has earned PFF coverage grades above 70.0 in each of the past two seasons. He was also used effectively as a blitzer in 2023, setting career highs with 18 total pressures, four sacks and an 87.4 PFF pass-rushing grade.

9. T.J. Edwards, Chicago Bears

Edwards’ first season in Chicago was as good as his final one in Philadelphia in 2022, with the 2019 undrafted free agent earning a PFF grade above 75.0 both in run defense and in coverage for the second straight year. He was targeted 91 times in coverage, giving up two touchdowns and recording a combined seven pass breakups and interceptions.

Click here to see T.J. Edwards' PFF Premium Stats profile.

10. Bobby Okereke, New York Giants

A career-high 78.9 PFF grade highlighted the best season of Okereke’s career, his first with the Giants. The 2019 third-round draft pick ranked ninth at the position with an 82.5 PFF coverage grade, and he was one of the surest tacklers in the league, missing just 7.7% of his attempts.

11. Tremaine Edmunds, Chicago Bears

Edmunds’ 2023 season was a disappointment compared to his 2022 campaign, with the 2018 first-round draft pick earning a 56.6 PFF grade. His 90.0 PFF coverage grade in 2022 was the best at the position, though, so the Bears will expect him to bounce back in 2024.

12. Quincy Williams, New York Jets

2023 was a career year for Williams, who set career highs with an 81.1 PFF overall grade and a 70.4 run-defense grade. And his 88.7 PFF coverage grade wasn’t just a career-best mark, but it was also the second-best figure among all linebackers.

13. Germaine Pratt, Cincinnati Bengals

2023 wasn’t a bad year for Pratt, who ranked 30th among linebackers with a 65.3 PFF coverage grade; it’s just that it wasn’t as good as his 2022 season when he earned an 87.2 PFF coverage grade to rank among the best linebackers in the league. If he can get back to that level, then he can be a top-10 linebacker.

14. Nick Bolton, Kansas City Chiefs

Injuries hindered Bolton in 2023, and he wasn’t the same player when he returned to the field for the final stretch of the season and playoffs. He was impressive in 2022, though, earning an 81.4 PFF run-defense grade and a 73.8 PFF coverage grade.

15. Drue Tranquill, Kansas City Chiefs

Tranquill’s first season with the Chiefs was also his best yet in terms of PFF grade, coming in at 68.4 in 2023. An effective weapon against the pass, he earned a 66.9 PFF coverage grade and racked up 22 quarterback pressures.

16. Foyesade Oluokun, Jacksonville Jaguars

Oluokun has enjoyed the two best seasons of his career since signing with the Jaguars. He earned PFF grades above 70.0 as a run defender, as a pass-rusher and in coverage in 2023. His 21 quarterback pressures last season were the second most in a season for his career.

17. Devin Lloyd, Jacksonville Jaguars

The 2022 first-round draft pick took a nice step forward in 2023, seeing his PFF coverage grade improve from 32.4 as a rookie to 67.8. He stood out in run defense, where his 90.3 PFF grade was the fourth-best mark among linebackers.

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18. Jahlani Tavai, New England Patriots

Tavai has turned his career around since arriving in New England, putting together a career year in 2023. His 86.6 PFF grade ranked fourth at the position, with the 2019 second-round draft pick earning PFF grades above 80.0 against the run and in coverage. If he maintains that consistency in 2024, then he’ll make this ranking look far too low.

19. De'Vondre Campbell, San Francisco 49ers

Campbell should be a nice addition for the 49ers' defense, giving them cover while Dre Greenlaw works his way back from injury. Campbell didn't manage to hit the heights of his 2021 campaign with the Packers in the past two years, but he has earned PFF grades above 65.0 in each of the past three seasons.

20. Bobby Wagner, Washington Commanders

Wagner is about to turn 34 and has just one season with a PFF coverage grade above 70.0 since 2018, but he remains one of the best run defenders in football. He has earned 90.0-plus PFF run-defense grades in three of the past four seasons — and six of the past eight.

21. Frankie Luvu, Washington Commanders

While he is somewhat limited in coverage, with his 67.7 PFF coverage grade in 2023 the high mark of his career, Luvu has become one of the better run defenders over the past three seasons and is an effective blitzer. He racked up 20 or more pressures in each of the past two seasons.

22. Tyrel Dodson, Seattle Seahawks

Dodson’s 90.2 PFF grade last season led all linebackers, with the caveat that his 589 snaps represent a much smaller sample size than the other top players at the position. He has landed with a great defensive mind in Mike Macdonald to prove that he is indeed one of the NFL's top linebackers in 2024.

23. Ivan Pace Jr., Minnesota Vikings

The undrafted Pace has already proven that he deserved to have heard his name called in 2023, with his ability as a blitzer immediately translating at the NFL level. He finished his rookie season with a 78.0 PFF pass-rush grade after registering 15 quarterback pressures from 109 pass-rushing snaps.

24. Jerome Baker, Seattle Seahawks

A solid fit for Mike Macdonald’s defense in Seattle, Baker is coming off a 66.6 PFF grade. He was used as a blitzer on more than 100 snaps in four of his six seasons in Miami, and it would be a surprise if that weren't the case with the Seahawks, too.

25. Kaden Elliss, Atlanta Falcons

Elliss has earned a PFF run-defense grade of 79.0 or better in each of the past two seasons. While he is more limited in coverage, his PFF coverage grades of 67.5 and 64.8 over the past two seasons are good enough for him to be a full-time player.

Click here to see Kaden Elliss' PFF Premium Stats profile.

26. Logan Wilson, Cincinnati Bengals

Wilson’s best season came in 2022, when his 74.6 PFF coverage grade tied for 17th among linebackers. That’s the only season of his career where he has earned a PFF grade above 65.0, but he has plenty of time to get back to that level.

27. David Long Jr., Miami Dolphins

Long’s first season in Miami was similar to much of his career, where he has impressed in run defense but struggled in coverage. While his 29.8 PFF coverage grade was a problem, his 92.6 PFF run-defense grade was the best mark among linebackers last year.

28. Sione Takitaki, New England Patriots

Takitaki is unlikely to be a top-10 linebacker at this point in his career, but he’s good enough in coverage and run defense that he is not going to be a liability. He has allowed just one touchdown across 890 career coverage snaps.

29. Blake Cashman, Minnesota Vikings

Cashman turned a career year with the Texans into a free-agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason. He faded as the 2023 season went on, but his 82.1 PFF overall grade ranked eighth at the position.

30. Ernest Jones, Los Angeles Rams

Jones led all linebackers in quarterback pressures (37) last season and ranked seventh at the position with an 86.2 PFF run-defense grade. His 57.5 PFF coverage grade highlights his limitations, which is why he’s not higher on this list, but he is a very good run defender.

31. Willie Gay, New Orleans Saints

Gay is coming off the lowest-graded season of his career (55.9) but will now play in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints. He posted a 65.0-plus PFF grade in all three of his previous seasons, so he can still be a top-32 linebacker in the NFL.

32. Ja’Whaun Bentley, New England Patriots

Bentley has earned PFF grades above 65.0 in each of the past three seasons and in five of his six seasons in the NFL. It’s probably unfair to expect him to be at the level he was in 2022, when his 80.4 PFF grade ranked eighth among linebackers, but he has proven himself to be a solid starter to this point.


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