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All-Decade: Ranking the top LBs from the 2010s

Curtis Grant
Curtis Grant (AP Images)

The decade is coming to an end and the years from 2010-2019 were loaded with talent. Here’s how we rank the top linebackers of the decade based on how good they were out of high school.

MORE ALL-DECADE: Top QB | Top RB | Top WR/TE | Top OL | Top DT | Top DE | Biggest flips | Programs trending up, down | Biggest busts | Ranking the No. 1s | Crazy recruiting storylines in 2010

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals100 | Position | Team | State

1. Curtis Grant

Grant was one of the most talented linebackers I’ve ever scouted at the high school level. He had size, instincts and the ability to cover a lot of ground. He had 20-plus tackles in a game I saw and I thought he was a can’t miss. His career at Ohio State was a disappointment based on his ranking and he never made the NFL.

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2. Nolan Smith

Smith is a recent prospect from the 2019 class who could have been a weakside end or a linebacker. We put him at linebacker but expected he would play a hybrid role in college. He’s seen some time this year at Georgia and his future is very bright.

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3. Jaylon Smith

Smith was the best linebacker in coverage I’ve scouted and his length and athleticism was off the charts. He was finishing a stellar career at Notre Dame and was set to be a top-five pick before a knee injury in his last game. He was picked in the second round and just signed a huge deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

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4. Micah Parsons

Parsons played defensive end during his high school career but he played so well as a standup rush end we left he projected at linebacker at the next level. He’s a star at Penn State already and should be a first-rounder down the line.

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5. Ben Davis

Davis was big, strong and athletic so it’s puzzling that he hasn’t panned out at all at Alabama. We expected big things from him and even with the injuries at linebacker this year he can’t get much time. He’s one of the bigger busts in Rivals.com history.

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6. Rahshaun Smith

Smith is puzzling as well because he was a big linebacker who could play inside or outside at the next level or even grow into a defensive end. At Clemson he was never able to crack the starting lineup and now he’s having a solid year at Maryland but he was from where we expected him to be.

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7. Baron Browning

Browning was a monster out of high school with size and power who was able to get off blocks well and cover in space. He hasn’t broken through at Ohio State yet but if he returns for his last season he could finally show his potential and get the NFL’s attention.

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8. Mique Juarez

Juarez was a do-everything player in high school who shined on defense and offense and is another puzzling bust. Off field issues led him away from UCLA and we are waiting for him to emerge at Utah but right now it doesn’t look likely he will be the star we projected.

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9. Rueben Foster

Foster was a massive linebacker in high school who had one of the most interesting recruitments of the decade as well. The former Auburn commitment landed at Alabama, waited his turn and became a star. He was a first-round draft pick.

10. Rashaan Evans

Evans was a superior athlete at the high school level and was a tackling machine who went on to Alabama and became a star and first-round pick. He’s now with the Tennessee Titans.