Top 10 off-ball linebackers entering Week 7 of 2023 NFL season: Ravens, Jets each boast two selections

Each week of the 2023 NFL season, the Next Gen Stats analytics team will present a different Position Power Ranking, meant to spotlight the top performers among a specific group of players. This week, we’ve assembled a list of the top 10 off-ball linebackers entering Week 7.

Before we dive in, though, a note on our methodology: To help create quantifiable rankings, we have devised a formula that yields a Next Gen Stats percentile score, which measures how a player is performing relative to his peers. The formula uses each player’s percentile score across a series of key metrics to create one composite score, indicating which players at that position performed best. We will lean on this formula to inform our rankings when applicable.


  • While player percentiles are based on components representing a linebacker’s performance as a tackler, coverage defender and pass rusher through the first six weeks of the 2023 season, this week’s scores also include metrics dating back to the start of the 2022 season to increase the sample size of plays.
  • Overall linebacker scores are rounded off to the nearest whole number for the purpose of simplicity, but the rankings you see below factor in the raw data down to the decimal point.

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  • Tackling score: 95
  • Coverage score: 89
  • Pass rush score: 65

As running backs and tight ends have gotten slimmer and faster, linebackers who possess quality agility and coverage skills have become coveted assets in the modern NFL. And no linebacker has heeded the call more than Warner.

Where the two-time All-Pro separates himself from his peers is as a coverage defender. Since 2018, opponents have completed 29.1 fewer passes than expected when targeting Warner as the nearest defender in coverage — the best mark among all players in that span, not just linebackers. The former third-round pick has shown no signs of slowing down in his sixth pro season. Opponents have scored 14.9 fewer points than expected when targeting Warner in coverage this season, the best mark among linebackers.

  • Tackling score: 94
  • Coverage score: 61
  • Pass rush score: 94

Whereas most linebackers on this list have made their name in pass coverage, it’s Queen’s ability to cause pressure that has catapulted him to No. 2.

Since entering the league in 2020, Queen has generated 47 pressures and 9.5 sacks when aligned as an off-ball linebacker, the second- and third-most in that span, respectively. Despite that output, the Ravens declined his fifth-year option in May. This has prompted Queen to adopt a scorched-earth policy this season, currently leading all linebackers with 11 pressures and ranking in the top five at his position in stop percentage at 9.7% (min. 100 snaps as a run defender).

  • Tackling score: 88
  • Coverage score: 89
  • Pass rush score: 77

“Ironman Davis” has long sustained a reputation as a premiere coverage linebacker over the course of his 12-year career. Dating back to the 2018 season, Davis has allowed a mere 5.4 yards per attempt as the nearest defender in coverage, the second-best mark at his position behind only Matt Milano (min. 200 targets).

Consistency in coverage leads to long careers in the NFL. Now in his age-34 season, Davis has allowed just 32 receiving yards on 13 targets this year. His 2.5 yards allowed per attempt when targeted is the second-lowest at his position (min. 10 targets).

  • Tackling score: 95
  • Coverage score: 76
  • Pass rush score: 46

Mosley came back in 2021 itching to piledrive ball-carriers after opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jets linebacker set a career high with 103 tackles in 2021 and racked up 83 run stops — the second-most at his position and his most since at least 2016. Mosley continues to be effective into his 30s. He’s on pace to shatter that career high in tackles in addition to being tied for the third-most hustle stops at his position with eight. (Hustle stops are defined as a successful defensive play in which the defender ran 20 or more yards to make the tackle.)

A young man’s motor has aided the 31-year-old Mosley in coverage, as well. His age has shown a bit more in this realm, but he’s still allowed 4.4% fewer completions than expected when targeted as the nearest defender this season.

  • Tackling score: 95
  • Coverage score: 57
  • Pass rush score: 81

Many teams don’t have one effective off-ball linebacker. The Jets have two.

Williams’ stellar play in run defense and as a pass rusher helped him earn a three-year, $18M deal to re-up with New York this past offseason. His 34 run stuffs are tied for third-most among players aligned as an off-ball linebacker since he joined the Jets in 2019.

The elephant in the room is his coverage score. Although it is the lowest on this list, there are some positives. He’s the most-targeted off-ball linebacker in the NFL this season, but he’s allowed just the 12th-most yards (161) and has defended five passes, tied for first at his position. The sheer amount of targets is going to lead to more yards allowed and bring his score down. On a per-attempt basis, though, his 4.4 yards per attempt allowed is the ninth-lowest out of 60 off-ball linebackers (min. 10 targets).

  • Tackling score: 96
  • Coverage score: 61
  • Pass rush score: 75

Oluokun’s 96 tackling score is the highest on this list and propelled him to the No. 6 spot.

Oluokun is a tackling machine, as the Jaguars linebacker has led the NFL in tackles the past two years and is tied for the seventh-most run stops this season (37). His tackling aptitude was directly tied to Jacksonville’s 27-point comeback against the Chargers in last year’s Wild Card Round. Oluokun’s team-leading seven tackles led to long-yardage, third-down and fourth-down situations as Los Angeles’ struggles allowed the Jags back in the game.

  • Tackling score: 93
  • Coverage score: 75
  • Pass rush score: 51

After only one season as a Ram, Bobby Wagner is back in Seattle — paving the way for the training wheels to come off Jones in his third season. Jones has allowed just 3.1 yards per attempt when targeted as the nearest defender in coverage this season, fourth-best out of 60 off-ball linebackers (min. 10 targets). His presence has been felt in the run game, as well. Jones’ 63 tackles lead the Rams, and his 10 run stuffs are tied for most on the team with Aaron Donald.

  • Tackling score: 95
  • Coverage score: 63
  • Pass rush score: 72

Like the Jets, the Ravens also possess two effective off-ball linebackers on their roster. 

Baltimore acquired Smith from the Bears just before Week 9 of last season, and the change of scenery paid off immediately. Smith channeled the frustration from his Bears tenure into 13 run stuffs from Week 9 on, the third-most at his position in that span. This helped Smith earn a five-year, $100 million extension, the kind of investment his counterpart Patrick Queen hopes to get from Baltimore amid a contract year.

Smith has picked up this season where he left off last, accumulating the fourth-most tackles in the league (63) while currently ranking in the top 10 in run stops (30) through Week 6.

  • Tackling score: 82
  • Coverage score: 82
  • Pass rush score: 86

White’s linebacking partner Lavonte David just missed out on this list, but the younger of Tampa’s off-ball duo comes in at No. 9.

White’s 86 pass rush score is the second-highest on this list and represents a skillset he’s flexed ever since the Buccaneers drafted him with the No. 5 pick in 2019. White leads all players with 98 pressures when aligned as an off-ball linebacker in that span. His 74 hustle stops are second in the NFL…only to David’s 77.

White’s skill in pass coverage is a key component to Tampa’s defense and is helping the team stay competitive in its first year post-Tom Brady. Opponents have caught 23.9% fewer passes than expected when targeting White in coverage this season, the third-best rate at his position.

  • Tackling score: 92
  • Coverage score: 76
  • Pass rush score: 45

Okereke’s positive presence on one of the season’s more disappointing defensive units lands him at No. 10 on the list.

Where Okereke’s 25 run stops are tied for 18th-most in the league, no other member of the Giants defense ranks in the top 80. Likewise, you’d have to scroll to No. 153 on the run-stuff leaderboards to locate a Giants defender not named Okereke — who you can find near the top, tied for the eighth-most run stuffs with eight. Only three other Giants have recorded more than one.

The former Colt has also made his presence felt in the passing game, as opposing offenses have completed 14.9% fewer passes than expected when targeting Okereke this season, the seventh-best mark at his position (min. 10 targets).


  • Alex Anzalone, Detroit Lions
  • Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Zaire Franklin, Indianapolis Colts
  • Frankie Luvu, Carolina Panthers
  • Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks

— Mike Band, Keegan Abdoo and John Andersen contributed to this story.

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