Despite what you may think, Jonathan Vilma is one of the best linebackers in the league. While many linebackers are outspoken a la, James Harrison or others let their play talk for them, a la Patrick Willis, Vilma has just the right amount of both.
They say the linebackers are considered to be the quarterbacks of the defense and Vilma has been that type of leader since his college days at the University of Miami. Many football players come with a sort of personality, but Vilma and his Hurricane ties come with swagger. Taking over as a starter in his sophomore year Vilma played a key role in the Hurricanes 2001 national championship run.
Finishing his collegiate career with 377 total tackles, Vilma built himself a nice name for the NFL. While scouts knew he was, the New York Jets were the team lucky enough to draft Vilma in which they did with the 12th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
After three consecutive seasons of 100+ tackles, Vilma suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2007 and shortly after the Jets cut their ties with Vilma and sent him to the New Orleans Saints for a fourth-round pick and conditional third-rounder.
It seemed as if Vilma was just another middle linebacker in the league after his recovery, but then the Saints went on a historic run. While the Saints and their high powered offense was the story of the 2009 Super Bowl Championship team, Vilma and veteran safety Darren Sharper were key on defense.
While Sharper was pulling off his usual interceptions, Vilma was piling up his usual 100-tackle seasons. While the Saints took on Peyton Manning and the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, it was Vilma who made a key audible on defense and had a pass deflection during the fourth quarter which sealed the win for the Saints.
So as hopes are high throughout the NFL that the lockout is soon over, we turn to teams and their respective players. The Saints are always a team to watch, and Jonathan Vilma although respected, is an underrated linebacker.
As guys like Patrick Willis, Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis and James Harrison just to mention a few take the headlines and attention, Jonathan Vilma takes the heavy workload.
Vilma has a career total of 780 tackles (556 solo), 11 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, 9.5 sacks, and due to his great leadership he has one Super Bowl ring.
Only 29 years old, Vilma will soon crack 1,000 total career tackles and it will all but establish his place in the National Football League. Throw in a couple more great defensive audibles that could lead to Super Bowl rings, Jonathan Vilma may have a place in Canton. It’s only fair to give a man that share of optimism who has always been respected for his leadership and underrated for his performance.