2013 Pac-12 Pre-Season Positional Rankings: Linebackers

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Barr, Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov form one of the best groups of linebackers to play in the Pac-12 on a given year.

1. Anthony Barr Sr. UCLA

One of the most impressive athletes to ever play linebacker in the Pac-12, the former running back terrorized Pac-12 offenses last season, Barr had 21.5 tackles for loss and led the conference with 13.5 sacks. Barr almost assuredly would have been a high first round pick had he declared for the NFL as a junior, but instead he will be back and could be the best linebacker in the country.

2. Trent Murphy Sr. Stanford

Murphy would be the unquestioned best linebacker in the conference most years and even with as good as Barr is, an argument could be made that Murphy might be even better. Murphy is a bit of a hybrid as he is 6'6 261 and he utilizes his size to get to the quarterback as good as anyone in the conference as he led the Cardinal with 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss last season.

3. Shayne Skov Sr. Stanford

Murphy might be a little bit more physically imposing with better numbers, but Skov is the heart and soul of the Stanford defense. He's got ideal size at 6'3 244, can move from sideline and sideline and comes up big when the Cardinal need it most, delivering his best games in 2012 against Oregon and in the Rose Bowl.

4. Carl Bradford Jr. Arizona State

Bradford had a breakout season as a sophomore and emerged as one of the best pass rushers in the conference as he finished with 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss. Bradford is an incredibly rangy and athletic linebacker that can make plays all over the field, particularly in the backfield.

5. Eric Kendricks Jr. UCLA

Former Cal standout Mychal Kendrick's younger brother is quickly turning into one of the best linebackers in the conference and a worthy sidekick to Barr. Kendricks isn't as flashy as Barr, but he led the conference in tackles as a sophomore and is more of a traditional linebacker who is steady and is a pure tackling machine.

6. Hayes Pullard Jr. USC

Pullard had more than 100 tackles in 2012 and is a strong presence in the middle that leads a USC defense that should be much improved in 2013. Pullard is a classic linebacker that hits hard, racks up tons of tackles and can play pass defense when need be.

7. Jake Fischer Sr. Arizona

Fischer isn't the biggest or most athletic linebacker in the conference, but he is a sure tackler with great grit and hustle. He is far and away the best defensive player on the Wildcat defense and one of the best pure tacklers in the entire conference.

8. Brian Blechen Sr. Utah

A former safety, Blechen brings serious speed and pass defense to the linebacker position. He led Utah in tackles last season and might be the best pass defending linebacker in the conference.

9. Shaq Thompson So. Washington

Thompson started from day one as a true freshman and used his freakish athleticism and body to immediately become the Pac-12's best young linebacker. Thompson didn't put up huge stats, but should be expected to develop into one of the conference's best linebackers in 2013 and is particularly skilled in pass defense.

10. Darryl Monroe So. Washington State

Monroe may not be as well known as Thompson, but he may have had a better freshman season than him as he had 80 tackles last year and 8.5 tackles for loss. Monroe is big at 6'1 235, likes to get after the quarterback and gives the Cougar defense hopes for a turnaround in 2013.

11. Chris McCain Jr. Cal

McCain is a another one of those defensive end/outside linebacker hybrids that can terrorize quarterbacks at 6'6 215. McCain had 8.5 tackles for loss in 2012 and could emerge as one of the conference's scariest pass rushers in 2013. But he's suspended and is current status with the team is in question.

12. Chris Young Sr. Arizona State

A safety in high school, Young is one of the quickest linebackers in the Pac-12 that has pure speed and athleticism. He's a big hitter that can make plays all over the field and is extremely versatile with the ability to drop back into coverage and stop runs dead in the backfield.

Others considered

Travis Feeney So. Washington

Nick Forbes Jr. Cal

Lamar Dawson Sr. USC

Boseko Lokombo Sr. Oregon

Marquis Flowers Sr. Arizona

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