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2012 Preseason Player Rankings - Linebackers
Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o
Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o
Posted Aug 22, 2012

CFN's Top 30 Players of 2012 By Position - Linebackers

Preview 2012

Player Rankings - LBs

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Note: This isn't a ranking of the top pro prospects.

2012 CFN Preseason Player Rankings  
Preview 2012 | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Receivers
Tight Ends | Offensive Tackles | Offensive Guards | Centers 

Defensive Ends | Defensive Tackles | Linebackers
Cornerbacks | Safeties | Punters | Placekickers | Returners 
1. Jarvis Jones, Jr. Georgia
There was never a question mark about his talent. The 6-3, 241-pounder came to Georgia from USC with a world of skill and upside, size, and elite skills, but there was a huge concern about his health after injuring his neck in 2009. Cleared and ready to go, he exploded for the Dawgs making 70 tackles with 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss as the leader of a strong defense. He started out hot with 11 tackles against Boise State and was steady all the way through the regular season, but he only came up with three stops against LSU and one in the loss to Michigan State. With his skills and burst he’ll be turned loose even more and he should be one of the nation’s most dangerous pass rushing terrors.

2. Manti Te’o, Sr. Notre Dame
One of the biggest and brightest recruits from the Charlie Weis era more than lived up to his billing. After coming into his own with a 133-tackle, 9.5-tackle-for-loss sophomore season, he cranked up a team-leading tackles with 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in a brilliant junior season. After starting out with 14 tackles and a sack against USF he went on to hit the double-digit tackle mark nine times finishing up with a 13-stop day with a forced fumble against Florida State. The 6-2, 255-pound senior has tremendous size, terrific instincts, and enough range to get to most things that aren’t funneled his way. The NFL scouts are split on how he’ll translate to the next level, but he’s a peerless hitter who doesn’t miss anything that comes his way. With one more big year it’s not crazy to suggest that he might end his career as the best linebacker in Notre Dame history.

3. Jonathan Brown, Jr. Illinois
Brown might be an All-American, but even if he goes on to become a great pro and a Hall of Fame performer he’ll still forever be known for his all-timer of a YouTube moment – look up Jonathan Brown cheap shot – when he applied a well-placed knee to Northwestern’s Patrick Ward. The unfortunate part about the move was that it overshadowed an otherwise phenomenal game and season finishing with a team-leading 108 tackles with six sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, a pick and four broken up passes. At 6-1 and 235 pounds he has the build to go along with the strength, range and burst for the middle after working last year on the weakside. Steady, he’s ultra-productive on a consistent basis and should be on the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year short list.

4. Sean Porter, Sr. Texas A&M
The defense needed Porter to shine in place of Von Miller and he more than came through finishing third on the team with 79 tackles and a team-leading 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. At 6-2 and 230 pounds he’s maxed out on his frame after beefing up, but he didn’t lose any of his quickness and projects to be a whale of a weakside defender at the next level. Not just a pass rusher. He’s tough against the run and has the speed to be decent in pass coverage if needed. However, his job will be to do a little of everything for the defense and will be turned loose to dominate in the backfield. Now he has to produce on a consistent basis with 8.5 of his sacks coming in the first half of the season being shut out over the last four games of the regular season.

5. Gerald Hodges, Sr. Penn State
Even with Michael Mauti back as the star of the linebacking corps, the best player on the Penn State D will still be Hodges, a tackling machine who led the team with 106 stops with 4.5 sacks, ten tackles for loss, a pick, four broken up passes and two forced fumbles in his breakout year. Able to play inside or out, the 6-2, 233-pound guided missile is a former safety who beefed up and grew into the starting role highlighted by a 19-tackle day against Illinois coming off a 14-stop performer against Northwestern. Against Houston he was one of the few Nittany Lions who showed up with nine tackles. An All-America candidate, he should be among the Big Ten’s steadiest defenders and should be even better with all the talent around him taking some of the heat off.

6. Shayne Skov, Sr. Stanford
7. Khaseem Greene, Sr. Rutgers
8. Arthur Brown, Sr. Kansas State
9. Jelani Jenkins, Jr. Florida
10. Andrew Jackson, Jr. WKU
11. Nico Johnson, Sr. Alabama
12. Dion Bailey, Soph. USC
13. DeDe Lattimore, Jr. USF
14. C.J. Mosley, Jr. Alabama
15. Chris Borland, Jr. Wisconsin
16. Kevin Pierre-Louis, Jr. Boston College
17. Mike Taylor, Sr. Wisconsin
18. A.J. Klein, Sr. Iowa State
19. Sio Moore, Sr. UConn
20. Keith Smith, Jr. San Jose State
21 Jake Knott, Sr. Iowa State
22. Khalil Mack, Jr. Buffalo (Susp.)
23. Max Bullough, Jr. Michigan State
24. Jordan Hicks, Jr. Texas
25. Bruce Taylor, Sr. Virginia Tech
26. Dwayne Woods, Sr. Bowling Green
27. Demetrius Hartsfield, Sr. Maryland
28. Chase Thomas, Sr. Stanford
29. Kevin Reddick, Sr. North Carolina
30. Jeremiah Attaochu, Jr. Georgia Tech