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So we've had some really good linebackers in the recent past. How would you rank the likes of Bruschi, Vrabel, Mayo, Hightower, McGinest, Collins, Thomas? 

 

I'd be tempted to put Bruschi and Vrabel at the top, followed by Dont'a...

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I think Hightower and McGinest were the two best players, in terms of combining physical talent and mental acuity.

Collins probably the best athlete by a distance, but simply either not inclined or not interested in playing smart. Just like Thomas.

Mayo was a good player, but a better leader. Just like Bruschi.

In terms of ranking them in impact and talent I'd probably go: Hightower, McGinest, Bruschi, Vrabel, Mayo, Thomas, Collins.

...and although he spent a lot of time at DE as well, I might slide Ninkovich onto that list, between Vrabel and Mayo.

 

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I am going to make two separate lists for the guys mentioned. List one is Production:

McGinest

Hightower

Vrabel

Mayo

Bruschi

Collins

Thomas

This next list will be overall impact:

Bruschi

Hightower

Mayo

Vrabel

McGinest

Thomas

Collins

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I ranked Hightower so high on overall impact simply because the defense is noticeably worse without him, he is clearly the most talented player out there on D, or at least in the front 7, he is the defensive general and has been since Mayo left, and he makes HUGE plays in BIG moments. I don't think he will ever surpass Bruschi on pure fan favoritism, but he certainly has a shot at the most significant LB in the BB era.

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4 hours ago, Deadpulse said:

I ranked Hightower so high on overall impact simply because the defense is noticeably worse without him, he is clearly the most talented player out there on D, or at least in the front 7, he is the defensive general and has been since Mayo left, and he makes HUGE plays in BIG moments. I don't think he will ever surpass Bruschi on pure fan favoritism, but he certainly has a shot at the most significant LB in the BB era.

The game in Denver in 2015 (not the playoffs) showed Hightower's worth. He went down injured before half time, and in the second half, Denver's run game put up over 100 yards on us when it couldn't really get going in the first half. He was seemingly keeping the run defence together on his own. 

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