Believe it or not, I actually think this fit of pique over at Roll Bama Roll might serve to kick off an interesting debate.
Last, Brad Crawford at 247sports has three college football position groups ranked ahead of Alabama’s linebackers this year.
4. ALABAMA’S LINEBACKERS
Let’s face it — this group could’ve been ranked No. 1 nationally in this position ranking without much of an argument. That’s how elite the Crimson Tide’s set of outside linebackers are this season with two future top-10 selections leading the way in Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner. The duo combined for 26 sacks and 41 tackles for losses last season. Anderson is college football’s best defensive player and Turner is a rising superstar. And if he wasn’t playing behind two pass-rush monsters on the outside, Chris Braswell would likely be receiving similar praise heading into the season. BamaOnLine reports coming out spring that Nick Saban will likely use all three on the field at the same times in spots this fall.
I don’t know what Brad is smoking, but this group is hands down the best in the sport. He didn’t even mention freshmen Jeremiah Alexander and Jihaad Campbell, both freaks themselves who flashed in the spring game.
Now, it would be silly to pretend that Alabama’s linebackers aren’t the best in the country at their particular position group, but over any position group in the country? Well, here’s who Crawford ranks numero uno:
1. Georgia’s tight ends
There are not enough footballs to go around for this group in Athens, the most talented collection of tight ends in college football. Brock Bowers was 247Sports’ Freshman of the Year last season after setting several program records at the position, including a team-best 13 touchdown receptions. When another number was called, it was usually Darnell Washington, a red zone and third-down threat whose freakish frame made it difficult on opposing secondaries. And while Georgia’s tight end room was a man down this spring thanks to a labrum injury for Bowers, former LSU transfer Arik Gilbert — 247Sports’ highest-rated tight end recruit, who has worked at wide receiver as well — made the most of his extended reps, including two touchdowns in the spring game.
Gilbert may have the highest upside of the trio and will play a role in several multi-tight end looks this fall within Todd Monken’s offense, ahead of Oscar Delp and Brett Seither on the depth chart. So with Bowers being the obvious favorite to win the Mackey Award, Washington starring as the Bulldogs’ most physical blocker at the position and preferred red-zone threat and Gilbert stretching the field as a tight end-wideout hybrid, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has a vast group of options in the passing game that will produce in a big way for the defending national champions. There’s at least three future early-round picks at the position, perhaps more when Delp develops.
Or, to put it another way…
Three of the top six is nothing to sneer at. That being said, I do think this poses a good topic for a debate, a non-partisan one. Which group is better, in your eyes, and why? Which group has a greater impact on a game?
Have at it in the comments. (Try to refrain from slagging ‘Bama bloggers, though.)