Top Preseason Grades: Inside Linebackers

The five highest-graded men in the middle so far this preseason; Steve Palazzolo has a look.

| 3 years ago

Top Preseason Grades: Inside Linebackers

top-pre-grades-ILBWe don’t know about you, but we’ve had some with preseason. It’s not the best way of seeing who will succeed when win-loss records start to matter, but it has given us a first look at some players and really gives second- and third-stringers a chance to prove their worth.

So with three weeks of action in the bag we’re going to be looking across all the positions to let you know who have earned the grades in the Top 5 at each position.

Now of course there’s a lot more than five players at each position we’ve graded. We’ve run every player to play a single snap on offense or defense through the grading process so if you want to see how they’ve fared this preseason, and get access to seven seasons worth of historical grades and access for 365 days which will include the entire 2014 season (and postseason) then you’ll need a PFF Premium Package. At only $26.99 you won’t get better value.

Inside/Middle Linebackers

1. Brandon Spikes, BUF: +5.2

Breakdown: New home with similar results for Spikes whose +3.0 grade against the run is all but expected, but he’s added a +1.3 grade in coverage that has to be a pleasant surprise for his new employers.

Signature Play: In classic Spikes style, he shot the gap against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, knifed past RG Patrick Omameh and took on the fullback on a run right up the middle late in the first quarter.

2. Brad Jones, GB: +4.7

Breakdown: After struggling down the stretch last season, Jones is off to a nice start as he’s done a fine job of defeating blockers in the running game to the tune of a +3.9 grade.

Signature Stat: Jones has picked up five run stops on just 20 snaps, good for a Run Stop Percentage of 25% that ranks fourth among inside linebackers.

3. Akeem Jordan, WAS: +4.5

Breakdown: Jordan was an effective run-stopping presence for the Kansas City Chiefs last season and that’s exactly what he’s done so far in Washington as he leads all inside linebackers with a +4.6 grade against the run.

Signature Play: In the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots, Jordan easily shed fullback Taylor McCuller to make the tackle short of the markers on 3rd-and-1.

4. Henoc Muamba, IND: +3.5

Breakdown: Muamba  has been a pleasant surprise for the Colts as he’s made his mark in all aspects of the game, grading positively as a pass rusher, run stopper, and in coverage.

Signature Stat: His three pressures are tied for the most among inside linebackers and he’s posted a Pass Rush Productivity of 22.5.

5. Ty Powell, BUF; Demario Davis, NYJ: +3.4

Breakdown: Powell and Davis have picked up their identical grades in similar ways as Powell is grading at +2.2 in coverage while Davis’ +2.5 coverage grade ranks third among inside linebackers. Powell has shown better against the run (+1.5) while Davis has a sack on his seven rushes.

Signature Stat: Powell has yet to give up a reception into his coverage on two targets while Davis has given up one of his two targets for 16 yards. Both player have one pass defensed.


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| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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