ESPN.com continued its series of positional power rankings today by tackling a position near and dear to Ravens fans: linebacker. The Ravens sent two linebackers -- Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs -- to the Pro Bowl this year, but only one cracked ESPN’s top 10.
Lewis finished fifth in the voting, and ESPN’s seven divisional bloggers ranked Suggs 11th. 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis topped the list, followed by James Harrison of the Steelers, DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys and Clay Matthews of the Packers.
Lewis recently praised Willis on ESPN.
“I just love the way he plays the game," Lewis said. "He plays the game with a fire. He reminds me of myself -- a lot, a lot, a lot."
Lewis, 35, was as high as third on one voter’s ballot and as low as 10th on another.
"Ray Lewis would not be in my top five at this point,” said Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., who didn’t have a vote but provided analysis. “For his age, he is still exceptional and a borderline Pro Bowler, but he doesn't run like he did. I remember when I was with the Browns, I looked at every report the team had written since 1999 and Lewis had the highest grade ever given out. He was nearly perfect."
Four of the seven bloggers listed Suggs on their ballot. Paul Kuharsky ranked Suggs fifth on his list.
"I unabashedly love Suggs, and frankly would have placed him higher if I thought there was any way he needed help to crack the top 10," Kuharsky said. "To me, there is a great deal of subjectivity in ranking this position when mixing guys from 4-3s and 3-4s, so I did a lot of know-them-when-I-see-them ranking. Suggs is absolutely a top-10 guy to me."
1. Patrick Willis, 49ers
2. James Harrison, Steelers
3. DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
4. Clay Matthews, Packers
5. Ray Lewis, Ravens
6. Jerod Mayo, Patriots
7. Brian Urlacher, Bears
8. LaMarr Woodley, Steelers
9 (tie). Tamba Hali, Chiefs
9 (tie). Jon Beason, Panthers