It’s going to be quite challenging for football fans this year to determine the best linebackers in 2023. There are excellent players at that position throughout the league.
In fact, there are even a few of the best NFL linebackers currently that could end up being among the greatest linebackers in NFL history. These are the guys who have to play sideline to sideline, defending the pass and the run with equal efficiency.
Best linebackers 2023
In other words, most teams need to make sure they are well covered at this position, leading to a ton of competition when trying to think about the best linebackers in 2023. Unfortunately, we couldn’t mention all of the ones who warrant recognition.
However, we were able to whittle our list down to the 10 best linebackers in the NFL heading into the 2023 season.
10. Bobby Wagner
For Bobby Wagner, age continues to be nothing more than a number. Despite missing out on the Pro Bowl last year, his career-high six sacks helped Wagner to earn All-Pro recognition for the ninth time in his illustrious career. He continues to play at such a high level that the Seahawks are bringing him back where he belongs this season after a one-year stint with the Rams.
Wagner is poised to lead a linebacker corps that has some serious talent. Even if his days of being the best linebacker in the league are over, Wagner is still one of the elite linebackers of his generation and still qualifies among the 10 best linebackers in 2023.
9. Matt Milano
Even if Buffalo’s offense gets most of the attention for the team’s recent success, the Buffalo defense contributes as well, and Matt Milano is a big reason why. He’s been a key leader in the middle of the defense for a long time but finally got the recognition he deserves last season when he was named to the Pro Bowl and the First-Team All-Pro team.
The former fifth-round pick is still a little easy to overlook because he doesn’t put up a lot of flashy numbers. But his leadership skills and ability to play sideline to sideline are unquestioned. He also had three sacks in Buffalo’s two playoff games last season, doubling his output during the regular season. These are Milano’s prime years, so he should have another great season as the leader of the Buffalo defense in 2023.
8. Demario Davis
While he’s one of the oldest starting linebackers in the NFL, Demario Davis also figures to be one of the best linebackers in 2023. The 34-year-old finally earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season. But he’s also been an All-Pro for the last four years and has been one of the league’s elite linebackers throughout his time in New Orleans.
Davis has started all but one game over the last decade, collecting at least 90 tackles in each of those seasons. He also has 36 career sacks, including a career-high 6.5 last year, which isn’t too bad for a middle linebacker. While his age remains a lingering question to some extent, Davis has shown no signs of slowing down just yet.
7. C.J. Mosley
C.J. Mosley fell off the radar for a little while after signing with the Jets. He played just two total games in 2019 and 2020. But it’s safe to say that he’s back after amassing 326 total tackles over the past two seasons, including over 200 solo tackles.
After a three-year drought, Mosley got back to the Pro Bowl and back to receiving All-Pro honors in 2022. He’s now the leader of a defense that has a chance to be one of the best in the league this season, especially if Mosely can continue to play at a high level despite now being in his early 30s.
6. Shaquille Leonard
A flurry of injuries limited Shaquille Leonard to just three games last year. His absence was surely felt by the Colts. But he’s not someone who should be forgotten after one injury-plagued campaign.
This is a guy who led the league in tackles as a rookie and was a First-Team All-Pro in three of his first four seasons in the league. If he proves to be healthy in 2023, Leonard should have no problem reclaiming his status as one of the NFL’s elite middle linebackers.
5. Roquan Smith
All it took was leaving Chicago and joining the Ravens for Roquan Smith to finally get to the Pro Bowl and become a First-Team All-Pro in 2022. Despite splitting his season between the two teams last year, Smith posted career-highs in tackles, sacks, and even interceptions.
Now that he’s settled into Baltimore and has a long-term deal, Smith should be ready to enjoy one of the best seasons of his career in 2023.
He’s only 26, so he should be approaching the peak of his career this season.
4. Fred Warner
Among middle linebackers in the NFL, they don’t get much better than Fred Warner. He’s been a First-Team All-Pro selection twice in the last three seasons.
It’s a mystery why he wasn’t selected for that same honor in 2021 when he amassed a career-high 137 tackles. In any event, he controlled the middle of the field for an outstanding San Francisco defense last year, collecting 130 tackles while also defending 10 passes and making two sacks. While the 49ers have plenty of talent on that side of the ball, Warner is the heartbeat of one of the best defenses in the NFL right now.
3. Haason Reddick
The Eagles struck gold when they signed Haason Reddick before the 2022 season. All he did for them was collect 16 sacks during the regular season and another 3.5 sacks over three playoff games. Despite playing for three different teams over the last three seasons, Reddick has tallied 39.5 sacks during that stretch, becoming one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers.
Somehow, he didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until last season. But the former first-round pick appears to have come into his own and is living up to his promise, which should make him one of the best linebackers in 2023.
2. T.J. Watt
Just one year removed from winning Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt still qualifies as one of the top linebackers in the NFL. Injuries limited Watt to just 10 games and 5.5 sacks last season, but that figures to only be a temporary setback for him.
After all, this is a player who had at least 13 sacks in four consecutive seasons prior to last year, including the 2021 season when he set an NFL record with 22.5 sacks. He also led the league in sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hits in both 2020 and 2021. Assuming Watt is fully healthy in 2023, he should quickly get back to playing at an elite level and giving opposing quarterbacks nightmares.
1. Micah Parsons
It’d be impossible to list anybody but Micah Parsons as the best linebacker in the NFL right now. While he didn’t win Defensive Player of the Year honors last year as many thought he could following a spectacular rookie season, there was no drop-off in his game from Year 1 to Year 2.
Parsons had 13.5 sacks in 2022 after collecting 13 sacks as a rookie. He also recovered three fumbles last year, one of which he turned into a touchdown. For the season straight season, Parsons was named a Pro Bowler and a First-Team All-Pro selection. He’s still just 24 and set up for another monster season in 2023, making him one of the leading candidates to be NFL Defensive Player of the Year this season.