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Ranking the NFL's top 10 linebackers for 2020: The best hybrid playmakers on D

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Evaluating some of the top LBs in the NFL (0:59)

Although Bobby Wagner is ranked among NFL insiders as the top linebacker in the NFL, Lavonte David and Tremaine Edmunds also have high standings at the position. Jeremy Fowler examines their rankings. (0:59)

To preview the 2020 NFL season, we asked more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to help us stack the top 10 players at 11 positions (sorry, special-teamers). The results might surprise you. They surprised me.

Here's how it worked: Voters gave their best 10 to 15 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, interviews and research. We had several ties, so we broke them by isolating the two-man matchup with additional voting and follow-up calls. Each section is packed with quotes and nuggets from the voters on every guy -- even the honorable mentions.

The objective is to identify the best players right now for 2020. This is not a five-year projection or an achievement award. Who's the best today? Pretty simple.

We'll roll out a position per day over the next 11 days. Here's the schedule:

Week 1: tight ends (July 7); quarterbacks (July 8); running backs (July 9); wide receivers (July 10); offensive tackles (July 11)

Week 2: interior offensive linemen (July 12); edge defenders (July 13); interior defensive linemen (July 14); off-ball linebackers (July 15); cornerbacks (July 16); safeties (July 17)


Following his retirement this offseason, Luke Kuechly will be missed. But plenty of linebackers are ready to fill the void. Our linebacker rankings feature a clear-cut No. 1, established veterans vying for the next four spots and ascending young players trying to unseat the second- and third-contract guys.

The linebacker position -- all inside linebackers here, along with outside linebackers in a 4-3 alignment and hybrid options -- has at least five first-round picks from the past two years who earned top-10 votes.

But older NFL players have problems with some of the young guys who like to rack up tackles.

"Turnovers and ball disruption," a veteran NFL linebacker said. "That's what it's about. The young guys can get a lot of tackles but it takes a while to learn how to take the ball away."

With that in mind, here's how the young players fared compared to the thirtysomethings. And a shout out to Ryan Shazier, who, at age 27, would undoubtedly be high on this list if not for the severe 2018 back injury that required spinal stabilization surgery.