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ESPN Linebacker Rankings: Patrick Willis Versus The World

Patrick Willis RP
Patrick Willis RP

Yesterday I declared it Patrick Willis Day given the pair of links related to Bamm Bamm. Considering how much time is spent discussing the draft, if you get two links about one player unrelated to the Draft, it's safe to say that's worthy of a day in their honor. However, we've got a little something extra today in regards to Willis.

ESPN's various NFL writers are putting together power rankings for the various positions around the league, and yesterday was the linebacker position. It's hard to rank all linebackers together given the differences between 3-4 and 4-3 linebackers and the various roles each LB plays. However, they acknowledged what we know to be true and that's the fact that Patrick Willis is the best linebacker in the game right now.

Willis received the most total points as he received three 1st place votes, three 2nd place votes, and two 3rd place votes. James Harrison finished second and DeMarcus Ware finished third. It's interesting to note that Ware also received three 1st place votes, but was dragged down by Tim Graham's 9th place vote.

Part of the question marks were around whether a pass rushing outside linebacker could be more valuable than your traditional middle linebackers. The thing with Patrick Willis is that he really could succeed in any spot on the field. He operates well in his Mike linebacker role, but when given the opportunity to blitz the quarterback he's shown an amazing ability to get across the line. In fact, he had a career high six sacks this season and he has improved his sack total the last two years.

It will be interesting to see how Vic Fangio mixes Willis in to his exotic blitzes. Willis is as athletic as any linebacker in the game and the 49ers are wise to take advantage of that athleticism whenever possible. If football ever gets back on track, I'm excited to see how Bamm Bamm will be able to elevate his game to yet another level.