According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who “surveyed league executives, coaches, scouts and players,” the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Foyesade Oluokun is not one of the top-10 linebackers in the league.
The NFL’s two-time defending tackles leader slotted just outside the top 10 as an honorable mention on this season’s list.
“Maybe not the standout athlete like some others but extremely durable and extremely consistent,” said an AFC exec during Fowler’s survey. “Has a lot on him mentally in that system to get everyone lined up, and he plays it at a high level.”
Two seasons ago, Oluokun also was left off the top 10, garnering another honorable mention nod.
“He surprised a lot of people (from) where he started to where he is,” an NFC scout said to Fowler. “He’s a solid starting linebacker.”
Oluokun led the league in tackles in 2021 with 192, and in 2022 with 184. He increased his solo tackle numbers from 102 in his last season with the Atlanta Falcons, to 128 in his first year with the Jaguars.
In each of his past two seasons, Oluokun has two sacks and at least five passes defended.
As for who ranks ahead of Oluokun, there is certainly room for conversation.
At 10th overall is the San Francisco 49ers’ Dre Greenlaw, who strictly based on stats, had fewer tackles and the same amount of sacks as Oluokun.
Oluokun also recorded one more sack than ninth-place C.J. Mosley. Mosley, to his credit, did lead a New York Jets defense that was one of the best in the league and recorded seven pass deflections.
An interesting inclusion was seventh-place Shaquille Leonard.
In his fourth year in the league for the Colts in 2021, Leonard was clearly one of the best backers in the game, earning the top overall spot on Fowler’s list. But this year, Leonard only played in three games due to various injuries.
At number five, Fowler’s survey placed Buccaneers’ linebacker Devin White.
By Fowler’s own admission, White “did not have his best year in 2022, and at times looked uninspired.” White had 124 tackles, five pass breakups and zero sacks last season.
Fowler also admits that of the more than 80 voters in his survey, the bottom portion of the list was almost interchangeable.
“Players nine through 15 were all deserving and fairly close in the voting,” Fowler wrote.
Even still, it is hard to imagine what more Oluokun would have to do to earn higher recognition from around the league.