Even with the loss of All-American Chase Thomas, the Cardinal don't skip a beat here and return maybe the best linebacker unit in the country. Murphy and Skov are legitimate All-American candidates and Murphy is the big intimidator that gets in the backfield, while Skov is the vocal leader. The rest of the depth here is also is really good, as Tarpley, Lancaster and Lueders would be the best linebackers on a lot of teams.
Murphy and Skov might be a little bit more hyped, but Barr and Kendricks might be just as good of a one-two punch at linebacker. Barr is probably the best linebacker in the country, maybe the best pass rusher in the conference and just an all-around freak. Kendricks led the conference in tackles last season and is a tough tackling machine that makes plays all over the field while Zumwalt and Wallace are outstanding supporting players.
It looks like the Trojans are going to only have two linebackers in their defense this year, so the linebacker unit lost star Dion Bailey, but still has returning studs Pullard and Dawson. Both guys, are big, tough and can make big hits and could easily change the perception of USC's defense in 2013.
A young group, the Huskies are led here by superstar to be sophomore Thompson and underrated and rangy sophomore Feeney who is a very physical player. Timu and Fuiamaono are more veteran players who really improved last season.
These guys get the luxury of playing behind Will Sutton and Arizona State's strong defensive line and they make the most of it. Bradford quietly was one of the best pass rushers in 2012 and Young is an athletic player that can make big hits and is fast as any linebacker in the conference.
This unit may be young, but it is very good. McCain and Forbes are both big, rangy guys who can get after the quarterback on the edge and Jefferson is an athletic hitter with loads of potential.
An experienced unit, but also one that gave up a ton of yards last season, the Wildcats have two solid seniors in Fischer and Flowers, but not much else. Both are All-Pac-12 candidates and can make a lot of tackles while also helping in pass defense.
This unit is big but not necessarily proven other than Blechen and Fehoko. Blechen is one of the most underrated linebackers in the conference and a great pass defender and the rest of the group has the size and intangibles to be a solid unit.
The Cougars' defense has been scary in recent seasons, but the emergence of guys like Monroe and Coen give them hope for the near future. Monroe was one of the best freshman linebackers in the conference last year and Coen is an emerging standout.
The Ducks went from having one of the best linebacker units in the country, to at least one of the most unproven in the Pac-12 with the graduation of Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso. Lokombo is a very good player and the rest of the bunch has huge potential, but will need to prove themselves on the field in 2013.
Mike Riley is well known for producing great defenses with players that you have never heard of and he will once again have to do that with his linebackers in 2013.
Colorado's defense has been much maligned in recent seasons and this unit will really need to step up if they hope to improve on defense.