We’ve already locked in on a quarterback, tight end, running back, wide receivers, offensive line, and defensive line, so let’s take a look at the linebackers.
As posted earlier, NFL team editors around the FanSided network are getting together and compiling All-Division teams for an epic 32 team tournament to decide the most talented division in the NFL. Regarded by some as one of the worst divisions in all of football, the AFC South has some work to do to put together a team that can go far in the bracket.
As discussed in the defensive lineman post, we decided to go with a 3-4 front since the majority of the division utilizes that scheme. With that in mind, we decided to focus on the pass rush in selecting our 4 linebackers.
Although there are some question marks about him thanks to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy and an impending 4-game suspension, Robert Mathis has to be on the all-division team. At age 32, Mathis had his best season last year, finishing with 19.5 sacks. There’s a good chance he won’t be a candidate next season, but for now he’s the most proven pass rusher in the AFC South.
Another guy who is making the team mostly on reputation is Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing. The former first round pick was a borderline All-Pro in his first 3 seasons coming out of USC in 2009, but he’s been plagued by injuries ever since. The talent and instinct is there to be a reliable inside backer, but Cushing needs to stay on the field. He gets the benefit of the doubt in this discussion.
To help Cushing out in the middle of the field, we went with the reliable presence of Jacksonville’s Paul Posluszny. Poz has been a polarizing player since coming to Jacksonville thanks to his massive contract, but he is a more than adequate middle linebacker. He’s a sure tackler who has steadily improved his coverage skills since coming into the league. He’s definitely overpaid, but that’s not factored into our choice for the all-division team.
Finally, we decided to be a bit bold choosing the other outside linebacker. Despite being a rookie and making a position switch, first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney is too good to pass up here. Much like the Texans are doing in real life, pairing Clowney alongside J.J. Watt should absolutely terrify opposing quarterbacks.
Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below.
- Daniel Lago