Atlanta Firebirds

Inside Linebackers

Jake Ganus – 6a

AJ Klein – 8aa

Luke Rhodes – 6aa

Outside Linebackers

Joplo Bartu – 8c

Armonty Bryant – 8a

Cameron Lynch – 6aa

Eric Striker – 6a

Summary: Atlanta has a quality group of linebackers but some have failed to live up to expectations because of inconsistency. AJ Klein could be a start but hasn’t gotten there quite yet. Joplo Bartu and Armonty Bryant have always been on the fringe of stardom, but haven’t improved too much since their rookie seasons. Cameron Lynch and Luke Rhodes both had good camps and should be very good depth for the Firebirds.

Birmingham Predators

Inside Linebackers

Bryson Albright – 6a

Joshua Perry – 7a

Outside Linebackers

Jason Babin – 8D

Beniquez Brown – 6a

Don Cherry – 6a

Jay Elliott – 7aa

Summary: Joshua Perry and Jay Elliott have had solid camps so far and should be the leaders of this group. Jason Babin might be heading into his final season as a pro football player but they should be happy to have a veteran like him on the team.

Carolina Generals

Inside Linebackers

Trey DePriest – 6a

Mike Hull – 7aa

Akeem Jordan – 7d

Joe Mays – 7

Outside Linebackers

Trevor Bates – 6aa

Tyre Glasper – 7

DJ Simon – 6a

Summary: Mike Hull’s journey from Philly to New York has probably landed him a permanent home in Carolina. The Linebacker U product had a great camp and should be ready to take over as the defensive signal caller for the Generals. Trevor Bates maybe be a year away from really becoming a reliable starting linebacker but he has shown great potential. Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays and Tyre Glasper might be on their last legs but should provide some stability and depth.

Charleston Dragons

Inside Linebackers

Miles Burris – 7d

Brandon Spikes – 9c

Zach Vigil – 6aa

Outside Linebackers

Ray Ray Armstrong – 7a

Kyle Emanuel – 8aaf

Cameron Lawrence – 6c

Andy Mulumba – 7a

Craig Roh – 7aa

Aston Whiteside – 6a

Summary: Kyle Emmanuel has future superstar written all over him. He had a tremendous rookie season and looks like he can be one of the best linebackers in this league or a long time. As a rookie he out-performed Brandon Spikes, who still looks like he is one of the elite linebackers in this league. Behind those two it is a bit muddled. Zach Vigil and Craig Roh had nice camps and have shown some potential but still have competition for starting jobs with some veterans. Andy Mulumba had a bit of a disapponting camp but it’s way too early to give up on him. He can still be a solid option.

Columbus Explorers

Inside Linebackers

Jake Doughty – 7a

Kyler Elsworth – 6aa

Christian Jones – 7aa

Alex Singleton – 7aa

Outside Linebackers

Jason Ankrah – 6a

James Cowser – 6aa

Justin Durant – 8ci

Thomas Keiser – 7d

Jeff Luc – 6aa

Brennan Scarlett – 6aa

John Simon – 10f$

Scott Solomon – 6a

Stephen Weatherly – 6aa

Summary: John Simon is one of the very best around and we should expect another spectacular season from him leading the Explorers defense. Justin Durant was a very good veteran addition to the linebacking group and should give another weapon on the outside. After those two they have some guys with interesting potential. James Cowser had a very good camp. Stephen Weatherly and Brennan Scarlett are two more rookies who have shown great potential, but still they all may be a year away from making a big impact. Jeff Luc had a somewhat disappointing camp. He might prove to be a bust as a first round pick already. Inside, Christian Jones looks like the future but hasn’t separated himself from Alex Singleton. That doesn’t matter too, too much because both should start in a 3-4 alignment.

Dallas Six-Shooters

Inside Linebackers

Will Compton – 9a

Blair Smith – 6a

Outside Linebackers

Zaire Anderson – 6aa

Donnie Baggs – 6aa

Taylor Reed – 7aa

Trevor Roach – 7aa

Summary: Will Compton will hold this linebacking group together and looks like an up-and-coming star player. Trevor Roach also had a good camp and looks like he might be ready for a breakout year. Taylor Reed is also a great signing. Those three will give the Six-Shooters a respectable starting trio but after then, they have very little depth.

Houston Wranglers

Inside Linebackers

Tyler Matakevich – 7aa

Joseph Peterson – 6a

Elandon Roberts – 7aa

Outside Linebackers

Devante Bond – 6aa

Carl Bradford – 6aa

Larry Dean – 7aa

Dexter Jackson – 7a

Cory Littleton – 7a

Philip Steward – 6c

Summary: Houston did an excellent job building a young linebacking corps with plenty of players with high ceilings. It’s going to be a process to get there, though. Tyler Matakevich looks like the future of this defense and had a great training camp to secure that sort of hope. Elandon Roberts is another rookie who also had an incredible camp. His performance was a bit more unexpected but it’s great for the Wranglers. Devante Bond might be a tad behind those guys but had shown some promise. Larry Dean, Dexter Jackson and Philip Steward are some veterans who should be serviceable glue guys.

Los Angeles Stars

Inside Linebackers

Devon Kennard – 8aa

Jared Norris – 6aa

Shayne Skov – 7a

Outside Linebackers

Solomon Elimimian – 8aa

Najee Goode – 7

Alvin Ray Jackson – 8

Deon Lacey – 8a

KC Obi – 6aa

Hayes Pullard – 7a

Summary: The Stars have an excellent group of linebackers but it was devastated by injuries a year ago. Elimimian was poised for a breakout last year before going on injured reserve. Deon Lacy and Najee Goode also had their seasons cut short. They’re both back and look good. If there is any positive about the injuries last year it’s that it opened up time for Shayne Skov, Devon Kennard and Hayes Pullard to play and all three of those guys plays well last year. That means there is a great deal of competition in Los Angeles this year and their defense should be a lot better. Devon Kennard can really become a star player. He might have a true breakout year this year.

Louisville Cougars

Inside Linebackers

Josh Forrest – 6aa

LJ Fort – 7a

Greg Jones – 7a

Outside Linebackers

Cory Greenwood – 7a

Terran Williams – 6aa

Summary: Greg Jones and Corey Greenwood could rack up a lot of tackles and have interesting potential, but if either one of them get injured this shallow group will be in trouble. They need more depth.

Nashville Renegades

Inside Linebackers

Geno Hayes – 8D$

Dillon Lee – 6aa

Outside Linebackers

Kwon Alexander – 9a

Thurston Armbrister – 9a

Curt Maggitt – 6aa

Myke Tavarres – 6a

Summary: Trading for Thurston Armbrister was an incredible move. Both he and Kwon Alexander showed they can be future stars as rookies and now they are going to be together in the Renegades defense for a long time. Geno Hayes’ performance has dropped off but he’s still an important veteran leading this group. Those three make for one of the very best starting trios in the league, but depth is a huge concern for the Renegades.

Michigan Stags

Inside Linebackers

Jake Ryan – 8aaf

Outside Linebackers

Jatavis Brown – 8aa

Kamu Grugier-Hill – 6aa

Simoni Lawrence – 8aa

Ian Wild – 7

Summary: Michigan has an awesome group of young linebackers. They just need more depth. Jatavis Brown has been an absolute stud and as a second round rookie draft pick the Stags have to be thrilled with how great he’s looked in camp. Jake Ryan is ready for a true breakout season as a sophomore. Simoni Lawrence had a vry good rookie year and is picking up right where he left off.

Minnesota Freeze

Inside Linebackers

Brock Coyle – 7a

Stephen Nicholas – 8D

Outside Linebackers

Marco Ojemudia – 6a

Joe Schobert – 7aa

Aaron Wallace – 6aa

Paul Worrilow – 8aac

Summary: Minnesota might end up regretting trading Thurston Armbrister after an incredible rookie season but they still have some interesting young prospects. Joe Schobert can become something pretty nice; it just might take a little bit of time for that to happen though. Until them veterans Paul Worrilow and Stephen Nicholas are the leaders of this group. Brock Coyle has always been a guy with potential. He might not live up to all of his expectations but should have another solid season for the Freeze.

New Orleans Nightmare

Inside Linebackers

Beau Bell – 7

Jamari Lattimore – 8a

Outside Linebackers

Justin Hickman – 7

Perry Riley – 8aa

JC Sherritt – 8a

Ramik Wilson – 7aa

Summary: The Nightmare have to be upset about trading Kwon Alexander last year but they still have three quality starters with some potential. Ramik Wilson looks like he can become something special if given the playing time to develop. Perry Riley was a great free agent addition for the nightmare. Jamari Lattimore is a tackling machine, but is a bit limited. He doesn’t impact the game as a coverage linebacker or pass rusher but, he’ll get a lot of tackles. JC Sherritt also tackles well. Beau Bell is a tremendous depth linebacker.

New York Marauders

Inside Linebackers

Akil Blount – 6a

Winston Venable – 8aa

Outside Linebackers

Jacob Lindsey – 6a

Steve Longa – 6aa

Deron Mayo – 8a

Victor Ochi – 6aa

Doug Parrish – 6aa

Telvin Smith – 9aa

Bear Woods – 8a

Summary: The loss of All-SFL linebacker Vontaze Burfict is going to hurt, but the Marauders have a quartet of very good linebackers who should ease the pain of his loss. Winston Venable didn’t quite live up to his expectations last year but with a year in the system he had a great camp and should be ready to take over as the leader. But the star of this group is Telvin Smith. He missed most of his rookie season with an injury but was spectacular as a sophomore. He’s a supreme athlete and can do just about everything. Deron Mayo and Bear Woods will fight it out for the final starting job, though the team does plan to implement some 3-4 schemes this year. Behind those four the team had just some prospects. Steve Longa and Doug Parrish have stood out the most. Victor Ochi has pass rushing ability and before too long may be moved up to defensive end in the 4-3 base defense the Marauders run.

Omaha Express

Inside Linebackers

Vontaze Burfict – 10f$

Casey Matthews – 8D$

Outside Linebackers

Otha Foster – 7aa

Eric Martin – 6a

David Santos – 6a

Summary: Vontaze Burfict was thought to be heading to the NFL but the expansion express spent a ton of money to keep him and to ensure they had a corner stone star on their team. He’s absolutely amazing, clearly the best linebacker in the league. Casey Matthews is a great backup who will probably bump outside just because he has to get on the field somehow. Otha Foster is an interesting addition from the CFL. They need more depth, however.

Orlando Rockets

Inside Linebackers

Khalil Bass – 7aa

Joe Goosby – 6

Arthur Moats – 8aa

Terrance Smith – 6aa

Outside Linebackers

Adam Bighill – 8aa

Kentrell Brothers – 6aa

Jelani Jenkins – 8aa

Cordarro Law – 7a

Henoc Muamba – 8c

Damaso Munoz – 6a

Summary: Clearly it didn’t hurt the Rockets at all but Jelani Jenkins was having a great season before suffering a season-ending injury. But the fact that they were still able to win big without him hows how deep this group is. Adam Bighill and Henoc Muamba did a tremendous job when Jenkins was out. Arthur Moats is as consistent as they come too. The Rockets have some nice prospects too. Terrance Smith and Kentrell Brothers both show remarkable potential and could be the future of this group. But they won’t have to be rushed into big roles, which is why the Rockets never have a down season. Khalil Bass had a very nice camp as well and should be another tremendous reserve.

Philadelphia Bulldogs

Inside Linebackers

Rennie Curran – 7d

Steven Daniels – 6aa

Ben Heeney – 7aa

Gerald Hodges – 8aa

Outside Linebackers

Brandon Copeland – 6aa

Adrian Hamilton – 6a

Jacquain Williams – 7c

Summary: Losing Danny Trevathan is really going to hurt this group and they couldn’t afford to keep rental Vontaze Burfict either, but the good news is that Gerald Hodges looks like he’s one his way to becoming a start after another fantastic training camp. Ben Heeney also had a very good camp and could be headed for a breakout season too. After those two, it’s a bit more muddled. Rennie Curran is a decent veteran addition but had a rather poor camp and looks to be on the downside of his career. Jacquain Williams also looked rather slow in camp. Steven Daniels and Brandon Copeland showed potential in camp but still might be a year away from really contributing. Adrian Hamilton has very good pass rushing ability but hasn’t taken advantage of any opportunities he’s gotten.

Phoenix Scorpions

Inside Linebackers

Josh Kaddu – 6a

Kaluka Maiava – 8D

Scooby Wright – 6aaf

Outside Linebackers

Josh Bamrick – 6a

Khairi Fortt – 6aa

Alonzo Highsmith – 7a

Prince Shembo – 7ac

Yawin Smallwood – 6aa

Summary: Phoenix’ linebackers over-achieved last year and at times Prince Shembo looked like an All-SFL calibur player, but none of them were overly consistent with their performance. Still, Shembo and Highsmith are young enough to have some potential to get better, but probably are at they peak of where they’ll be. Kaluka Maiava has announced this will be his final season. It’s important he had a good one — and there is plenty of reason to believe he could still have a solid impact — because while Scooby Wright looked really, really good in camp, he is still a year away from being a reliable contributor.

Pittsburgh Forge

Inside Linebackers

Jeremiah George – 6aa

Nick Haag – 6

Andrew Jackson – 6a

Javicz Jones – 6a

Nick Kwaitkoski – 7aa

Antonio Morrison – 7aa

Outside Linebackers

Samuel Eguaveon – 6aa

Jonathan Newsome – 8c

Dadi Nicolas – 6aa

Calvin Pace – 9d

Shaq Petteway – 6aa

O’Brien Schofield – 8c

Summary: The Forge did an excelled job assembling the personnel for a 3-4 defense. Rookies Antonio Morrison and Nick Kwaitkoski look ready to start right away after very strong training camps. Calvin Pace was a great veteran addition from the NFL. Jonathan Newsome and O’Brien Schofield are also great veteran additions who should all make some noise on the outside. Jeremiah George had a great camp and should be a solid backup inside. Rookies Dadi Nicolas and Shaq Petteway should eventually take over outside but they need time to develop.

San Antonio Marshalls

Inside Linebackers

Emmanuel Acho – 6aa

Dominique Alexander – 6aa

David Mayo – 8a

Outside Linebackers

Sam Acho – 10f

Adrian Clarke – 7aa

Tyler Knight – 7c

Alex Okafor – 8ac$

Shaquille Riddick – 6aa

Summary: Alex Okafor is looking to rebound after an injury plagues 2016 season and it looks like he’s one his way to doing that this year. He’s a pass rush specialist, as is Sam Acho, who had 12 sacks last year with 15 hurries. It was a very productive season for Acho and he looks great again. His brother hasn’t develops as well and now his starting spot might be in doubt. Rookie Dominique Alexander had a very strong camp and is making for a very interesting position battle for the second starting ILB spot. David Mayo has the top spot locked down after a great 2016 campaign. He’s a tackling machine. Clarke has a pretty good season last year and had a great camp. At 25-years-old he looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

Seattle Orcas

Inside Linebackers

Travis Feeney – 6a

John Timu – 6aa

Vince Williams – 7aa

Avery Williamson – 9a

Outside Linebackers

Kevin Francis – 6aa

Alex Hoffman-Ellis – 6aa

Jeff Knox – 9a

Lamar Louis – 6a

Aaron Lynch – 8aa

Ivan McLennan – 6a

Terence Moore – 7

Tourek Williams – 7aa

Summary: It’s impossible not to love this linebacking corps. Avery Williams, Aaron Lynch and Jeff Knox are all young players but are all top-notch linebackers in the game. Williams did a great job when dropping back into coverage last season. Lynch and Knox were tackling machines as well. Lynch is a better pass rusher then he showed last season. Behind those three staples the Orcas have some nice depth players who have potential to grow. Vince Williams, Tourek Williams and John Timu can all be very solid contributors. They all had good camps too.

Washington Wave

Inside Linebackers

Curtis Lofton – 9d$

Blake Martinez – 8aa

Outside Linebackers

Brian Brikowski – 7

Nekos Brown – 6a

David Caldwell – 6a

De’Vondre Campbell – 7aa

Moise Foku – 7c

Corey James – 7aa

Andy Studebaker – 7c

Edward Whitley – 6a

Summary: This is another position where the Wave went out and spent some money, drafted wisely and significantly improved De’Vondre Campbell looks like an incredible steal as a third round pick and after a very strong training camp is probably ready to start right away. Don’t get confused though, the present and the future of this group is first round pick Blake Martinez. He is every bit as good as advertised and looks like he can be a Defensive Rookie of the Year favorite. Those two make for a very bright future for the Wave. Curtis Lofton is a great veteran addition who is on the down side of hs career but can still have some great games. Brian Brikowski was the team’s best linebacker a year ago but might be better as a great reserve to spell any of those guys. Nekos Brown is in a similar boat where he is better coming off the bench in certain defensive situations. Andy Studebaker is a solid edge setter. Cory James is another rookie who really impressed in camp. There is a lot of be excited about with this group this year.

SFL Top 5 Linebackers

1. Vontaze Burfict, Omaha Express
– Spending big bucks for a star defensive player like Vontaze Burfict was a brilliant move for a team like Omaha. He can be an impact player right away and keep the team relevant with his great all-around game.

2. Sam Acho, San Antonio Marshalls
– Without question, Sam Acho is the most devastating rush outside linebacker in this league and that changes the game a lot. Sam Acho had a tremendous 2016 season and helped transform the Marshalls, turning them from the worst team in the league into one of the best.

3. John Simon, Columbus Explorers
– John Simon might not be much of a pass rusher, but he does everything you need a linebacker to do. He sets the edge so well and is a tackling machine. If he gets a few sacks this year then he can move up this list.

4. Telvin Smith, New York Marauders
– In some ways, 2016 was Telvin Smith’s rookie season since he suffered a season-ending injury so early in 2015. He looked nothing like a rookie, he looked like a dominant linebacker with a tremendous all-around skillset. He’s probably the most athletic linebacker in the league.

5. Thurston Armbrister, Nashville Renegades
– As a rookie this guy led the league in tackles. He’s in a new system now with some other very good linebackers who will be there for some of those tackles so we may not see that level of production again, but he’s clearly one of the very best in the league.

HONORABLE MENTION: Avery Williamson, Seattle Orcas
– More than just a tackling machine, Avery Williamson can do it all. He’s been great in the middle of the Orcas defense and has a ton of talent around him to help out.

Commissioner’s prospect watch (Top 7 Rookies and Sophomores)

1. Thurston Armbrister, Nashville Renegades
– It’s impossible to deny just how talented this guy is. Again, a new system might lead to a dip in his stats, but he is the kind of guy who can elevate his teammates just by being out on the field.

2. Jeff Knox, Seattle Orcas
– Jeff Knox is a tackling machine and has a ton of talent around him on the Orcas defense to take some pressure off of him. Expect another great year.

3. Kwon Alexander, Nashville Renegades
– It’s a toss up between these top three guys. Kwon Alexander might be the most well-rounded guy of them all too. He impacted the game in a lot of different ways last year as a rookie.

4. Kyle Emanuel, Charleston Dragons
– Few saw this guy’s rookie success coming. Kyle Emanuel was a lockdown edge defender who was perfect in the Dragon’s 3-4 defense. He has future star written all of him.

5. Blake Martinez, Washington Wave
– The big money for Defensive Rookie of the Year has to be going on Blake Martinez right now. He’s been every bit as good as advertised and will really help transform the Wave defense.

6. David Mayo, San Antonio Marshalls
– It really helps that David Mayo has some spectacular veterans like Sam Acho next to him and Ryan Carrethers in front of him, but the fact remains that he had an incredible rookie season and had a camp that has set him up for an even better sophomore season.

7. Tyler Matakevich, Houston Wranglers
– Maybe he’s not the highest-rated guy right now, but Tyler Matakevich has every ability to become the absolute leader and star of the Wranglers defense.

By the Numbers:
10 Ratings: 3 (1.72%)
9 Ratings: 9 (5.17%)
8 Ratings: 35 (20.11%)
7 Ratings: 52 (29.89%)
6 Ratings: 75 (43.10%)