Top 10 NFL Outside Linebackers 2023 Rankings
Where T.J. Watt, Micah Parsons, Alex Highsmith, and more of the best Outside Linebackers rank going into the 2023-2024 NFL Season
The countdown to the 2023 National Football League season has officially begun as NFL teams, players, and fans all around the country get excited for another great season.
As the season approaches it delivers the NFL world a chance to take a look at the best players around the NFL at each position played on the football field.
One of those important positions is the outside linebacker which continues to play a vital role in slowing down opposing offenses while also being key in pursuing the quarterback and forcing pressure. As you look at the Top 10 NFL Outside Linebackers 2023 rankings list, each of these linebackers rank among the best in the NFL.
When it comes to which outside linebacker is the best there are a few NFL players well deserving of the honor including Micah Parsons of the Dallas Cowboys and T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Watt is coming off a down season after posting double digit sacks in four straight seasons before missing seven games last season due to injury. Luckily for Steelers fans expectations are high for Watt as he enters the 2023 NFL schedule healthy.
Meanwhile Parsons continues to put together a strong start to his NFL career since being drafted by the Cowboys during the 2021 NFL Draft. Here is a look at the Top 10 NFL Outside Linebackers 2023 rankings list:
Team: Green Bay Packers
2022 Stats: 33 Solo, 8.5 Sacks, 1 FF, 0 INT
Landing just outside of the top 10 on the Top 10 NFL Outside Linebackers 2023 rankings list is the Green Bay Packers Preston Smith. Smith, who started off his career with the Washington Redskins, has been a part of the Packers defense since the 2019 NFL season.
In five of his eight seasons Smith has registered at least eight sacks including posting 8.5 sacks last year for the Packers during the 2022 NFL schedule.
Smith also added nine stuffs, one forced fumble, and 59 total tackles while showcasing his abilities to play against the pass and the run.
Team: Free Agent
2022 Stats: 31 Solo, 9 Sacks, 0 FF, 0 INT
The business side of the NFL is interesting and one that will leave fans scratching their heads with the latest move coming when the Los Angeles Rams released Leonard Floyd.
With the release Floyd lands as a free agent despite posting nine sacks for the third straight season. In addition to the nine sacks, the seven-year veteran posted 59 tackles, one fumble recovery and four stuffs for a Rams team that struggled to stay healthy all season.
While question marks are present on where Floyd will land, his abilities to play at a high level should continue during the 2023 NFL season.
Top 10 Outside Linebackers
10. Bradley Chubb
Team: Miami Dolphins
2022 Stats: 20 Solo, 8 Sacks, 3 FF, 0 INT
Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 NFL Outside Linebackers 2023 rankings list is the former Denver Broncos and current Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Bradley Chubb.
Chubb continues to rank among the best outside linebackers in football while continuing to put together solid seasons year in and year out.
Despite not living up to his rookie season including his only double-digit sack season (12), Chubb is a hot commodity around the NFL while anchoring a portion of the Dolphins defense while also forcing opposing offenses to gear around his abilities to get to the quarterback on any pass play.
9. James Houston
Team: Detroit Lions
2022 Stats: 11 Solo, 8 Sacks, 1 FF, 0 INT
The future looks promising for the Detroit Lions on the defensive side of the football after landing both James Houston and Aidan Hutchinson during the 2022 NFL Draft.
Houston, who played his college football at Jackson State went under the radar before being selected during the 6th round by the Lions.
Houston did not disappoint posting eight sacks; however, those eight sacks came over just seven games played for the Lions.
While Houston continues to develop as every down outside linebacker, his ability to get to the quarterback makes him a strong weapon for the Lions moving into the 2023 NFL season.
8. Za’Darius Smith
Team: Minnesota Vikings
2022 Stats: 32 Solo, 10 Sacks, 1 FF, 0 INT
Coming off his third double digit sack performance during his first season with the Minnesota Vikings during the 2022 NFL Schedule, Za’Darius Smith continues to rank among the best outside linebackers in the NFL.
Smith, who will turn 31 in September plays with a high motor while being aggressive both against the pass as well as against the run.
Entering his 9th NFL season, Smith posted 44 tackles to go along with 10 sacks, five passes defended, 6.5 stuffs, and one forced fumble.
7. Darrell Taylor
Team: Seattle Seahawks
2022 Stats: 22 Solo, 9.5 Sacks, 4 FF, 0 INT
The 26-year-old linebacker from the Tennessee Volunteers continues to develop into a top tier outside linebacker. Darrell Taylor, who the Seattle Seahawks selected during the 2021 NFL Draft finished off his second season in the NFL posting a new career high with 9.5 sacks after posting 6.5 sacks during his rookie season.
In addition to the sacks, Taylor posted 26 tackles, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two stuff during his sophomore season in the NFL.
With the Seahawks returning Bobby Wagner to play opposite of Taylor, the former Volunteers star should continue to improve during the 2023 NFL Season.
6. Danielle Hunter
Team: Minnesota Vikings
2022 Stats: 46 Solo, 10.5 Sacks, 1 FF, 0 INT
When you look at the Minnesota Vikings much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team owns two of the best outside linebackers in all of the NFL.
One of those outside linebackers is Danielle Hunter with the other one being Za’Darius Smith. Hunter, when healthy, has ranked among the tops in the NFL in sacks along with fellow outside linebackers.
In four of the last six seasons Hunter has posted at least 10.5 sacks while posting six sacks in just seven games during an injury 2021 NFL season. The Viking outside linebacker is coming off a 10.5 sacks last season with three passes defended, 65 tackles, and one forced fumble.
Danielle Hunter *might* be okay as a standup outside linebacker. pic.twitter.com/Ro3sm3tzFb— Purple FTW! Podcast (@PurpleForTheWin) February 25, 2022
5. Matthew Judon
Team: New England Patriots
2022 Stats: 36 Solo, 15.5 Sacks, 2 FF, 0 INT
Rounding out the top five on the Top 10 NFL Outside Linebackers 2023 rankings list is the New England Patriots veteran Matthew Judon.
Judon, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens back during the 2016 NFL Draft has developed into one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL.
Judon is coming off back-to-back double digit sack seasons with both the Patriots including setting a career high 15.5 sacks during the 2022 NFL season.
Judon also registered 60 tackles, forced two fumbles, posted three pass deflections and seven stuffs. At 30 years old, Judon will enter the 2023 NFL season ranked among the best outside linebackers in the NFL.
4. Alex Highsmith
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
2022 Stats: 38 Solo, 14.5 Sacks, 5 FF, 0 INT
One player who is overlooked on a talented Pittsburgh Steelers defense is Alex Highsmith as all eyes have been on T.J. Watt over the past few seasons.
However, with Watt out with injuries at times during the 2022 NFL Schedule, Highsmith was able to showcase his talents with Watt off the field while posting a career high 14.5 sacks to go along with five forced fumbles and 6.5 stuffs.
Highsmith is a tremendous talent who can play both the run and pass at a high level. With Watt on the opposite side, Highsmith should continue to see great success in 2023 while also allowing Watt to have fewer double teams.
3. Haason Reddick
Team: Philadelphia Eagles
2022 Stats: 35 Solo, 16 Sacks, 5 FF, 0 INT
In his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles Haason Reddick put together a huge season while finishing second overall in sacks after posting 16.
Reddick, who played his college football with the Temple Owls started his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals before spending one season with the Carolina Panthers.
In each of the past three seasons Reddick has racked up at least 11 sacks while pushing his career total to 47 sacks. Reddick and the Eagles defense is loaded with talent while ranking among the top defensive units in the NFL.
To go along with the sacks, Reddick posted five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries while forcing havoc on opponent quarterbacks and running backs in the backfield.
2. Micah Parsons
Team: Dallas Cowboys
2022 Stats: 42 Solo, 13.5 Sacks, 3 FF, 0 INT
Could the 2023 NFL season be the year for Micah Parsons to take home his first Defensive Player of the Year Award? Parsons, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 12th overall pick during the 2021 NFL Draft has produced among the best outside linebackers in the NFL.
The Cowboys outside linebacker took home the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2021 before finishing second in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award last season.
After finishing the 2022 NFL season with 13.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and four stuffs, Parsons will look to add his third straight double-digit sack performance in 2023.
1. T.J. Watt
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
2022 Stats: 27 Solo, 5.5 Sacks, 1 FF, 2 INT
It is hard to look past T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers at number one on the Top 10 NFL Outside Linebackers 2023 rankings list.
The Steelers linebacker who took home the 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award battled injuries both knee and pectoral injuries limiting him to just 10 games.
Despite playing through pain and injuries, Watt was a player who demanded a double team and opposing offenses to game plan for.
As Watt looks to return to the field healthy in 2023 expectations are set for another double season sack season and potential run for a second Defensive Player of the Year Award.
How would you rank these NFL Outside Linebackers going into the 2023-2024 NFL Season? Rank below to be added in the NFL Power Rankings.
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