When it comes to off-ball linebackers in the NFL, Bobby Wagner is in a class all his own.

The former Utah State star who’s spent all nine of his NFL seasons in Seattle has become a household name captaining the Seahawks defense. In rating the league’s top linebackers, USA Today’s Mark Schofield has Wagner sitting squarely at the topand he’s not the only one.

Who’s the NFL’s best linebacker? Standouts from Utah State and BYU lead the league

“Death, taxes and Bobby Wagner in the heart of the Seattle Seahawks defense,” Schofield wrote in his reasoning why Wagner is the NFL’s top linebacker. “That cliché certainly applies to Wagner, who has been a dominant force for the Seahawks his entire NFL career. 2020 was his ninth NFL season, and he was still putting up some career-best numbers. Pro Football Focus charted Wagner with seven pass breakups, tying a career-high mark set in 2018. He also was credited with 12 quarterback pressures, a career-best number.

“When you watch him on film remain so consistent against the run, in coverage and when tasked with applying pressure, you’ll see why he remains atop lists like this one:”

A career full of accolades

The 30-year-old Wagner has accomplished plenty in his NFL career, including:

  • Winning a Super Bowl ring.
  • Being named first-team All-Pro six times and second-team All-Pro once.
  • Leading the NFL in tackles twice (2016 and 2019).
  • Being named to the Pro Bowl seven times.

Wagner — who’s in the second year of a three-year, $54 million contract with the Seahawks, per Spotrac — is coming off another standout season, leading Seattle with 138 tackles, including 81 solo stops in 2020. He also had three sacks, eight pass deflections, seven tackles for loss and a fumble recovery in helping the Seahawks reach the wild card round of the playoffs.

Who trails Wagner?

Another familiar face for Utahns comes in at No. 2 on Schofield’s list: former BYU linebacker Fred Warner, who’s heading into his fourth season with the San Francisco 49ers.

“Warner is becoming the perfect modern linebacker,” Schofield wrote. “His blend of athleticism, coverage skills, ability to pressure the passer and improvement against the run makes him one of the best in the game today.”

Is Fred Warner the NFL’s best player under the age of 25?

Behind Wagner and Warner, the rest of the top 5 include:

  • No. 3: Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • No. 4: Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings.
  • No. 5: Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts.