Decided to go ahead and see how my defensive rating system would rate the linebackers. Because tackles are taken into consideration, LBs have higher ratings than the defensive linemen. So this isn't a good system for comparing one position to another, but it still looks like it does a pretty good job of comparing players at the same position. Doesn't mean I think it's perfect. Half way through the season I wouldn't have quibbled too much with Barrett Ruud showing up as the top-rated middle/inside backer, but at this point my overriding impressions of his 2008 season are his whiffs in the Carolina and Oakland games when the Bucs were fighting for a playoff spot. Still, I wouldn't place him lower than fourth, and in fact I'd say the top four names on the below list correspond to what would be the top four names on most observers' lists. If I hadn't added total scrimmage plays into the equation then those four would have come out in the following order: Patrick Willis, Jon Beason, Ruud, and Ray Lewis (tied with Jonathan Vilma). The fact that the scrimmage plays push Lewis's rating higher after the outstanding year he had, and put him above Vilma by 8.4 points, confirm for me that it's better to include them.
11 Highest-rated Inside Linebackers
The outside linebacker ratings confirm (well for me at least) two opinions I had: DeMarcus Ware probably should have been Defensive Player of the Year (though I wouldn't make a big stink about it, James Harrison was certainly worthy), and Karlos Dansby was the best 4-3 outside backer: it is a minor travesty that he didn't get a single AP All-Pro vote. Only one of those went to a 4-3 guy and that was by some Rip Van Winkle who voted for Derrick Brooks (Brooks rated an 86.8, good enough for 19th). Without the scrimmage plays adjustment, Thomas Davis would have moved up to third, knocking Harrison to fourth; also, Lance Briggs would have moved up to fifth and Chad Greenway would have slid down to sixth.
10 Highest-rated Outside Linebackers