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2014 Pac-12 positional rankings - linebackers: Hayes Pullard best linebacker in Pac-12

Pullard edges out Myles Jack as the Pac-12's top linebacker

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

1. Hayes Pullard Sr. USC

The hot pick is to put Myles Jack as the top linebacker in the conference, but I will go with the hard-hitting veteran Pullard. He is a strong presence in the middle and the vocal leader of a good Trojan defense who has racked up nearly 300 tackles in his first three seasons with 20 of them for-loss.

2. Myles Jack So. UCLA

One of the biggest freshmen sensations to ever play in the Pac-12, the Jack hype machine is off the rails, but much of it is deserved. It is rare to find a linebacker who can defend the run and pass equally as well as Jack with his size and athleticism and instincts. Oh yeah, and he plays a little bit of running back.

3. Eric Kendricks Sr. UCLA

Jack gets all of the attention, but don't forget about Kendricks. He is the glue and now veteran leader for the Bruins defense as a sure tackler that is one of the conference's best at consistently making the tackle.

4. A.J. Tarpley Sr. Stanford

Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov are gone, but Tarpley is next in line as a huge intimidator and leader of the Cardinal defense. He finished with nearly 100 tackles in 2013 and stepped up in some of the Cardinal's biggest games.

5. Derrick Malone Sr. Oregon

Like most Oregon standouts, Malone is fast and consistent. He had more than 100 tackles in 2013 and was especially stout in big games against Stanford, UCLA and Washington.

6. Shaq Thompson Jr. Washington

A former five-star recruit, Thompson has adjusted to playing linebacker after being a defensive back in high school and is poised to have a true breakout season with his insane athleticism. Rumor has it that Thompson is going to start playing offense in 2014 so don't be surprised if he becomes the next Myles Jack.

7. Jason Whittingham Jr. Utah

Big, athletic and productive, Kyle Whittingham's nephew is one of the most underrated players in the conference. He is one of the best big, hybrid linebackers in the conference that can make plays at the line of scrimmage and get into the backfield.

8. John Timu Sr. Washington

Thompson is more well known, but Timu is a four-year starter that has slowly turned into a rock for the Huskies in the middle. He is big and consistent, but able to make the big play when it presents itself as one of the leaders of the Husky defense.

9. Addison Gillam So. Colorado

Gillam was overshadowed by Jack, but would have been the top defensive freshmen in the conference in 2013 most years. He ended up being the Buffaloes best defenders as a true freshman and put together some epic tackling games throughout the season.

10. Scooby Wright So. Arizona

Speaking of outstanding freshmen linebackers overshadowed by Jack, Wright is another. Quickly becoming one of the best players on the Arizona defense, Wright was a freshman All-American last season and has a good chance to go over the 100-tackle mark in 2014.

11. James Vaughters Sr. Stanford

Like Tarpley, Vaughters is next up in the line of Cardinal beastly linebackers. He is massive (6'2 254), experienced and the perfect fit for the Cardinal's bullying defense.

12. Darryl Monroe Jr. Washington State

Monroe has been a standout since he showed up at WSU and is a big linebacker with the athleticism to get all over the field and make plays.

On the edge

J.R. Tavai Sr. USC

Travis Feeney Jr. Washington

Michael Doctor Sr. Oregon State

Lamar Dawson Sr. USC

Hardy Nickerson So. Cal