Our Power Rankings for the linebackers are out and Carolina’s Jon Beason is the only NFC South representative.
He finished in a tie for ninth place with Kansas City’s Tamba Hali. This was an especially tough vote because we had to factor in 3-4 linebackers like Hali, DeMarcus Ware and other pass-rushers with guys who play the middle in the 4-3, like Beason.
I put Beason No. 6 on my ballot and NFC West colleague Mike Sando had him at No 5. But three panelists left Beason completely off their ballots. I think Beason has been forgotten a bit around the league because of what’s happened in Carolina, but he’s still the best linebacker in the NFC South.
Beason was the only linebacker from the division on my ballot and was the only NFC South linebacker to receive any votes from any of the panelists. For the record, I gave strong consideration to New Orleans’ Jonathan Vilma. He would have made my ballot if so many pass-rushers didn’t get in the way and those guys do make a big impact.
Atlanta’s Curtis Lofton and Tampa Bay’s Barrett Ruud? Both are very solid middle linebackers, but they don’t make many game-changing plays. I also would have given Carolina outside linebacker Thomas Davis a vote if he hadn’t missed last season with an injury. When healthy, Davis is on par with Beason.