The NFL's Top 5 Defensive Tackles

Just to clarify, when I made up this list, I included players who played any the defensive line spots in a 3-4 scheme and the defensive tackles in a 4-3. 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 edge pass rushers are another category. J.J. Watt – Houston J.J. Watt might not only be the top interior defensive lineman in the NFL, he just may be the most dominant defensive player in the league! He is beginning to dominate games like Lawrence Taylor dominated in the 1980’s. Watt has a combination of size, speed, power and competitiveness that is second to none. It has gotten to the point where he is consistently double teamed, yet still can’t be blocked. Watt is still a young player and is going into just his fifth NFL season. He began to dominate in his second season (2012) when he recorded 81 total tackles and 20.5 sacks. In his last three seasons, he has totaled 51.5 sacks and 12 forced fumbles. Frankly, I believe that if he played outside or on his feet, he would be just as dominant. He is a rare athlete with exceptional speed and power. I honestly don’t believe we have seen the best of him yet. It’s scary to think of how good he will become over the next few years. Ndamukong Suh – Miami Dolphins Not only is Suh one of the most dominant defensive lineman in football, he is one of the nastiest. He is so aggressive that it can, sometimes, border on being dirty, and many say he is. Off the field, Suh is said to be a very mild mannered, well-spoken person. That all changes on Sunday. While he may not be quite as dominant as Watt, he is an offensive coordinator's nightmare. He can simply destroy a protection package with the way he manhandles single and double blocks. He has rare explosive power and tosses around offensive lineman like they are little kids. Suh plays the run and pass equally well, as shown by his defensive numbers. In his five years in the NFL, he 239 total tackles and 36 sacks. This year he begins a new era in his career, having signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent. That signing could change the balance of power in the AFC East, where the New England Patriots have dominated for so long. Haloti Ngata – Detroit Lions Ngata spent his first nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens where he was a dominating force on a long dominant defense. He will replace Suh on the Lions' defensive line but if the Lions are looking for a similar type of player as Suh, they will be disappointed. Ngata is not and will never be the interior pass rusher that Suh is, but he is a dominant force versus the run. The last two seasons, Ngata only has 3.5 total sacks after recording 15 the previous three years. At 340+ pounds, Ngata has to be double teamed on just about every play, and it is almost impossible to run at him. He has rare ability to stack and shed at the point of attack and never gives ground to a blocker. Going into his 10th season, Ngata might not be the player he was three or four years ago, but he is still one of the best interior defensive lineman in football. Gerald McCoy – Tampa Bay Buccaneers If you ask Lovie Smith which two positions he most needs a dominant player in his defensive scheme, he will tell you the 3-technique and the Will linebacker. In Gerald McCoy, Lovie has a dominant 3-technique. He fits the criteria for what Lovie wants extremely well. While McCoy has been a very good player for Tampa Bay, I feel that he is just beginning to come into his own so to speak. Injuries have kept him from being as good as he can be. He has played five seasons in the league, and in only two of those five seasons, has he played a full 16 game schedule. Still, he has put up very good numbers and is just beginning to realize his potential. Last year, in 13 games, he recorded 35 total tackles and 8.5 sacks. The previous season, while playing all 16 games he had 50 total tackles and 9.5 sacks. With this being his second season in Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 scheme, I expect him to put up the best numbers of his career. Aaron Donald – St. Louis Rams I’m going out on the limb here a bit as Donald is only going into his second season in the NFL. He wasn’t even a starter at the beginning of the 2014 NFL season, but the rookie came on strong, and I feel that by the end of this season he will easily be one of the more dominant defensive linemen in the league. At 6’1 – 285, Donald isn’t your prototypical NFL defensive lineman, but he is a special player with some special traits. He has rare initial quickness, play speed, explosiveness, and power, to go along with top instincts. This allows him to make numerous plays, even though he constantly gives up size to his opponent. As a rookie, he only started 12 of the 16 games he played in and played in a rotation, yet still recorded 47 total tackles, 9.0 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. While he won’t double those numbers in 2015, he may come close. What makes Donald so good is his competitive nature and his will to succeed. He wants to become a great NFL player, and he will! Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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