B/R NFL 1,000: Top 64 Defensive Tackles

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 4, 2012

B/R NFL 1,000: Top 64 Defensive Tackles

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    A great defensive tackle can shift the focus of the entire offense. How teams game-plan for Haloti Ngata, Vince Wilfork or Geno Atkins dictates what the rest of the defense can do. Teams who have a great defensive tackle gain flexibility in their defensive formations and assignments.

    Who are the best of defensive tackles and nose tackles in today's NFL?

    We've set out to find the best defensive tackles in the NFL—based on how well they tackle, stop the run and rush the passer. Each starter has been assessed as to how well he exemplified those traits in 2011. The quest comes as part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The series offers an in-depth look at every position in the NFL, breaking down players' skills in a way never before seen on the Internet.

    B/R 1,000 rankings don't assess who had the best year, or even who has the most potential. Rather, players—in this case, defensive tackles—are judged on their current skills and mechanics, based on film study of the 2011 NFL preseason and regular season only.

    After hours spent scouting every starter and every potential starter, the top 64 defensive tackles have been scored on 10 criteria (more on the criteria here). In the slides that follow, we'll explain each player's strengths and weaknesses as the final ranking is revealed.

64. Peria Jerry, Atlanta Falcons

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    Agility

    7

    There's nothing special about Jerry's agility, but there is no lack of agility. He's a good athlete all around.

    Bull Rush

    4

    Jerry is neither that fast nor explosive, and he must improve this part of his game if he wants to remain a factor in the league.

    Speed Rush

    4

    He needs to improve his speed without a doubt. You're not going to see Jerry beat anybody because of pure quickness.

    Run Defense

    3

    A major liability against the run, this is an abysmal part of Jerry's game.

    Speed/Burst

    4

    He has a below average first step and speed that severely limits his ability on defense.

    Strength

    6

    The biggest redeeming quality of Jerry's game is his strength. It's above average, but very raw.

    Shed Blockers

    4
    With below-average speed, Jerry needs to work on his technique if he wants to improve.

     

    Read & React

    4

    This will come with time and experience, but right now he's also below average in pursuit.

    Tackle

    3

    A subpar tackler who must improve in this area.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any time in 2011.

    Overall

    49

    Atlanta's first-round pick in 2009, Jerry barely made this list and is pretty much here by default. He's raw, but must improve if he wants to stick around in the NFL.

63. Tyson Alualu, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Agility

    7
    Above average in the agility department, but he'll never be elite here.

    Bull Rush

    2

    Horrible with the bull rush. Almost embarrassing for a defensive tackle.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Not quick as a rusher, but can improve because of his raw ability.

    Run Defense

    2

    Not a consistent presence against the run. Is often a liability.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Good first step and an above-average ability to close the gap on the ball-carrier.

    Strength

    6

    Alualu must get stronger moving forward, but not bad right now.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Very average with getting rid of blockers.

    Read & React

    5

    Must improve his ability to read a defense. Very slow reaction and susceptible to biting on the play-action.

    Tackle

    4

    Will miss tackles because of lack of technique.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    51

    He will get better over time and right now he isn't horrible. With two full seasons now under his belt, the youngster has the intangibles to move up this list.

62. Corey Peters, Atlanta Falcons

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    Agility

    6

    Decent athleticism for such a big man, but nothing to write home about.

    Bull Rush

    4.5

    Can be controlled at the line of scrimmage because of his lack of a consistent bull rush.

    Speed Rush

    4

    You'll never mistake him for a fast player, but he could surprise you once or twice.

    Run Defense

    4

    Must get better stopping the run.

    Speed/Burst

    4

    Below-average speed, burst and consistency in this department.

    Strength

    7

    Above-average strength that allows him to take on most high-level blockers.

    Shed Blockers

    4

    Susceptible to getting caught up in a block. Really needs to improve here.

    Read & React

    4

    Can be very slow to read plays and has slow reactions. Must improve.

    Tackle

    5

    Not a consistent tackler and has shaky fundamentals.

    Health

    9

    Peters sat out one game in 2011.

    Overall

    51.5

    Huge potential to be dangerous and cause havoc in the backfield, Corey Peters will only get better with experience.

61. Pat Sims, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Agility

    6

    At 6'2" and 330, Sims is very agile for his size.

    Bull Rush

    4

    Needs to improve his strength when rushing an opponent.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Has trouble getting around blockers.

    Run Defense

    4

    Most improve on his efficiency stopping the run.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Average speed and first step off the line. Can improve over time.

    Strength

    7

    Very big and possesses great strength, Sims can overpower blockers.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Has a very hard time getting off blocks when he's locked up.

    Read & React

    6

    Makes good reads in the backfield and puts himself in good positions.

    Tackle

    6

    Needs to improve open-field tackling.

    Health

    7

    Sims missed five games in 2011.

    Overall

    53

    Big player with a good feel for the game. Nowhere near elite, but Pat Sims is more than serviceable.

60. Roy Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Agility

    7

    Very agile for a man of his size. Not naturally quick, but has a great motor and drive.

    Bull Rush

    2

    Horrible bull-rusher, nearing pathetic levels.

    Speed Rush

    2

    Not known for this ability to get around blockers.

    Run Defense

    3

    Miller is a liability against the run.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Very good burst of speed off the line and a solid first step, which allows him to get the advantage over blockers.

    Strength

    7

    Miller won't get pushed around, but he won't always overpower blockers. Above-average strength.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Needs to learn how to get off blocks better. Really hinders his overall productivity.

    Read & React

    5

    Below average ability to read and react to plays, but his hustle makes up for it.

    Tackle

    6

    Fairly good tackler in space. Has a good motor and drives through.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    55

    What you see is what you get. Hard worker that isn't athletically superior, but is very motivated.

59. Domata Peko, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Agility

    6

    Shows flashes of above-average agility, but fails to demonstrate it consistently.

    Bull Rush

    3

    Doesn't show the strength to be a good bull-rusher.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Has a hard time beating blockers based on speed alone.

    Run Defense

    6

    Not a liability in the run game. Makes positive plays for his team, but must get off his blocks more.

    Speed/Burst

    4

    Below-average speed and burst off the line that really hinders his overall effectiveness.

    Strength

    7

    Can hold his own against the best blockers in the NFL in a strength-on-strength situation.

    Shed Blockers

    4

    Has a tough time getting off blocks and becomes a negative player when he's locked up.

    Read & React

    6

    Average read ability, will sometimes get sucked into the play-action fake.

    Tackle

    6

    Makes too many arm tackles due to a lack of great form. Relies too much on strength and not enough on fundamentals.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    55

    When Peko's on, he can really cause havoc, but his inability to get off tackles really hinders his ultimate production.

58. Darell Scott, St. Louis Rams

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    Agility

    6

    Good agility that he uses to get in the backfield and track down runners.

    Bull Rush

    4

    Below average one-on-one skills with the bull rush.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Has a hard time beating a blocker to either shoulder.

    Run Defense

    7

    Very good quickness when chasing the ball-carrier. Agility really shows in this department.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Average burst and step off the line, but definitely not a strength of his game.

    Strength

    6

    Average strength. Scott isn't going to overpower anybody, and gets washed down the line of scrimmage at times.

    Shed Blockers

    4.5

    Really struggles getting off of blocks. This is a glaring weakness in his game.

    Read & React

    4

    Not really a read-and-react guy, but more of a downhill-momentum player.

    Tackle

    6

    Good tackler in space, but needs to improve on the fundamentals.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    55.5

    Darrell Scott signs of being a very good player, but needs to improve on his fundamentals before we can begin that discussion.

57. Terrence Cody, Baltimore Ravens

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    Agility

    5

    Subpar agility and ability to get off the line of scrimmage and into space.

    Bull Rush

    5

    A very average bull rush is helped out by the fact that he's so big.

    Speed Rush

    2

    Horrible speed rush, but it's just not part of the game for this 350-pound DT.

    Run Defense

    5

    Decent run-stopper who needs to get much better. Can make plays when needed.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Decent speed off the line of scrimmage and an okay first step. If he improves here, he could near great levels.

    Strength

    10

    Cody dominates at the line of scrimmage. Will win any battle in a one-on-one situation because of his strength.

    Shed Blockers

    4

    Below-average ability to get off a block and go after the ball.

    Read & React

    5

    Needs to improve his reaction skills, but doesn't need to as much with the guys he has behind him.

    Tackle

    5

    Average tackler that needs to work on form, technique and getting lower with his pads.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    57

    Cody's strength is in a league of its own, but the rest of his game is very elementary. Needs to continue to grow if he wants to be great.

56. Trevor Laws, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Agility

    6

    Good athleticism, but needs more control and flexibility.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Good lower-body strength affords Laws a strong push with the bull rush. Not always consistent, however.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Does not have a good speed rush, and wouldn't be a reliable candidate for one.

    Run Defense

    4

    Unreliable against the rush. Struggles to get off blocks and often times loses sight of the ball.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Average first step and burst off the line. Laws will never be a burner or a threat to blow past a blocker.

    Strength

    6

    Below-average strength, will get handled by bigger and stronger O-linemen.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Directly correlated to his strength. Has a hard time shedding blocks and moving off of them.

    Read & React

    5

    Average reaction, but is overall very slow to the play. He'll get burnt by the play-action.

    Tackle

    6

    Loose fundamentals and sloppy technique lead to missed tackles.

    Health

    9

    Missed two games last year.

    Overall

    58

    Trevor Laws has the natural abilities to be much better than his 2011 season. Needs to work on fundamentals.

55. Marcus Thomas, Denver Broncos

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    Agility

    7

    Above-average agility, but I wouldn't call him fast. He's quick and can move to the ball.

    Bull Rush

    2

    Pathetic bull rush that is barely worth commenting on.

    Speed Rush

    2

    Likewise with the speed rush. Going one on one against a blocker is not his strength.

    Run Defense

    8

    Very good field vision, agility and ability to run down a play. Thomas is an upper level run-stopper.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Average speed and first step. Nothing to write home about, but it doesn't hinder him.

    Strength

    7

    Very good strength to go along with his agility. This allows him to be dangerous against the run.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Must improve here in order to take his game to the next level. Right now Thomas gets trapped into blocks way too much.

    Read & React

    6

    Not as good at reading a play as you would assume, especially because he's so good in the run game. Needs to improve his feel for what's going on in the backfield.

    Tackle

    9

    Very good tackler that won't make many mistakes. Good in the open field, and can put a hurting on the ball-carrier.

    Health

    7

    Thomas missed four games in 2011.

    Overall

    58

    Very good run defender, but has serious flaws in passing situations. This makes him a very one-dimensional player.

54. Clinton McDonald, Seattle Seahawks

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    Agility

    6

    A solid athlete for a defensive tackle, can move when he needs to.

    Bull Rush

    5

    Very average bull rush, but better than all of the guys behind him on this list.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Another very average part of McDonald's game. If he improves his rushing abilities, we're looking at a great player.

    Run Defense

    6

    Very positive player in the run game, but nowhere near an elite run-stopper.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Average burst off the line of scrimmage, and doesn't possess an impressive first step. Gives blockers the advantage.

    Strength

    6

    Could stand to get stronger, but he's got good lower-body strength and a pretty good drive.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Needs to get better coming off the block. He's a downhill player, but needs to improve side to side at the line.

    Read & React

    5

    Must get better at diagnosing a play before it's too late.

    Tackle

    7

    Above-average tackler who won't let you down much, but still needs to work on fundamentals and wrapping up.

    Health

    9

    Sat out one game in 2011.

    Overall

    59

    Solid overall player. He'll help you more than he hurts you.

53. Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints

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    Agility

    7

    Great agility for a player that's as big as he is. Very good athleticism and ability to move around.

    Bull Rush

    5

    This is not Ellis' strength as a player, but if he developed a good bull rush, he could be a beast.

    Speed Rush

    7

    Great ability to use his speed to get around blockers and beat them off the ball.

    Run Defense

    3.5

    Really needs to improve this part of his game. He's a liability as far as stopping the run is concerned.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Good speed off the line of scrimmage that allows him to get by blockers before they can get a good handle on him.

    Strength

    6

    Average strength that could be better considering how big he is. He can hold his own though.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Needs improvement here.

    Read & React

    6

    Gets tied up too easily, which is the reason he's so average in the run game.

    Tackle

    4

    Seems more concerned about the big play than he is the fundamentals of tackling.

    Health

    9

    Sat out one game in 2011.

    Overall

    59.5

    Sedrick Ellis is a big threat in passing situations, but becomes null and void against the run. Incomplete player who has yet to live up to lofty expectations brought on by his draft stock. He'll hopefully improve playing next to Brodrick Bunkley in 2012.

52. Gerard Warren, New England Patriots

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    Agility

    5

    He's a big guy, so plodding around and being agile isn't necessarily part of this 330-pounder's game.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Good first step allows him to get underneath the pads of his blocker, and then he's big enough to let his body do the rest of the work.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Don't get yourself confused here with Warren. He's an athlete, but he's not blowing by anybody off the line of scrimmage.

    Run Defense

    4

    Struggles against the run. Can get washed away with a block and lose sight of the ball.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Like I said, don't mistake Warren for a speed-rusher here.

    Strength

    7

    Above-average strength, but won't bully people over on every play. He's just a big guy that uses his weight to his advantage.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Must work on his agility and the use of his hands when shedding blocks.

    Read & React

    8

    Shows good quickness and recognition to react to the play.

    Tackle

    6

    He's more likely to fall on a player than he is to wrap up and tackle the runner.

    Health

    7

    Missed four games in 2011.

    Overall

    60

    Good downhill player that can take on blockers and cause damage in the backfield.

51. Dan Williams, Arizona Cardinals

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    Agility

    6

    Shows flashes of athleticism, but slightly underwhelming as an athlete.

    Bull Rush

    4

    Could get much better with the bull rush. Below average here at best.

    Speed Rush

    5

    He'll beat a guy into the gap from time to time.

    Run Defense

    6

    Good run defender. Can find the ball-carrier and makes positive plays for the defense.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Lacks the speed and burst off the line that would allow him to be an elite defensive tackle.

    Strength

    8

    Big-time strength in both his upper and lower body. Huge part of Williams' game is overpowering opposing linemen.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Must improve here. He gets caught in blocks far too often.

    Read & React

    6

    Below average at reading plays, the 24-year-old should improve with time and experience.

    Tackle

    7

    He's not a pure form tackler, but he can get the job done when he needs to.

    Health

    6

    Williams missed six games in 2011.

    Overall

    60

    Williams has a ton of potential, but the second-year man out of Tennessee needs to improve his overall game.

50. Corey Williams, Detroit Lions

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    Agility

    6

    He's an athlete—there's no doubt about that. Not an elite athlete, but he can hold his own on defense.

    Bull Rush

    4

    Strength on strength is not Williams' forte as a defender.

    Speed Rush

    4

    He'll shoot the game from time to time, but not known as a threat to speed rush.

    Run Defense

    7

    Very good run defender, he sees the field and can make plays. Uses his agility to chase defenders.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Very good speed off the line for a big man.

    Strength

    7

    Good strength for a defensive tackle. He's won't overpower the best, but coupled with his agility, he becomes very dangerous.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Must improve this part of his game. Very average getting off blocks, causing him to be out of place against the run.

    Read & React

    6

    Smart player that can see what is happening and get where he needs to be.

    Tackle

    5

    Below-average tackler, but he can improve. He's more of a mess maker than a dominant tackle.

    Health

    9

    Missed one game in 2011.

    Overall

    60

    He gets the job done, and is a beneficiary of stellar defensive linemen around him.

49. Stephen Paea, Chicago Bears

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    Agility

    6

    Very quick and agile player for his size. Possesses good athleticism and movement.

    Bull Rush

    5

    Not known for putting his strength against a blocker and moving him back.

    Speed Rush

    4

    He'll bust through a gap from time to time, but this isn't his strength.

    Run Defense

    6

    Decent run defender, but must improve drastically as time goes on.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Great speed off the line of scrimmage. Can get into a gap before the blocker even gets out of their stance.

    Strength

    10

    Excellent game-changing strength in both his upper and lower body. Can move the line of scrimmage back.

    Shed Blockers

    5.5

    Really needs to improve this part of his game and needs to get better with his hands.

    Read & React

    5

    He's a momentum rusher, so he needs to learn a bit more discipline when it comes to reading the game.

    Tackle

    6

    Not his best quality as a defensive tackle. He can collapse the pocket, but must become a better finisher.

    Health

    6

    Missed five games in 2011.

    Overall

    60.5

    Incredible potential, but needs to start working on the other parts of his game.

48. Letroy Guion, Minnesota Vikings

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    Agility

    6

    He's a good athlete, but doesn't possess elite agility. Good for his size.

    Bull Rush

    4

    Below-average rusher. He's a liability in passing situations.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Guion's not going around anybody in a rushing situation.

    Run Defense

    7.5

    Very good run defender. Has enough quickness to close his gaps, and enough speed to chase the ball.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Average burst at the line and pretty decent with his first step.

    Strength

    6

    He's not the strongest guy out there, but he won't get pushed around by many people either.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Needs to develop a better feel for getting blockers off him with his hands.

    Read & React

    6

    Can see both the developing play and his lane. Puts himself in good position.

    Tackle

    7

    A tackler with good fundamentals, won't miss much when given a clean shot.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss time in 2011.

    Overall

    60.5

    He's a solid plus player who thrives at stopping the run. Needs to improve his downfield pursuit.

47. Phil Taylor, Cleveland Browns

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    Agility

    7

    Very good athlete with natural ability.

    Bull Rush

    8

    This is the strength of his game. Very effective bull rush stemming from great lower-body strength and low pad level for leverage.

    Speed Rush

    4

    He's the type of lineman that will overpower a blocker, not out-quick them.

    Run Defense

    3

    His lack of overall horizontal speed makes him a liability as a consistent run-stopper.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Very good downhill burst that gets him in the backfield quickly.

    Strength

    8

    Nearing elite strength. He'll overpower anybody in his way.

    Shed Blockers

    He's known more for his downhill drive than his side-to-side play. Needs to get better at moving off blockers.

    Read & React

    6

    He's got a good feel for the game. It's not elite, but he knows that he is doing.

    Tackle

    4

    Needs to become a much better tackler. It's strange that the good form he shows on his bull rush doesn't translate.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    61

    Phil Taylor is a dangerous player that can get in the backfield and cause havoc, but he's also limited.

46. Rocky Bernard, New York Giants

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    Agility

    6

    Decent agility, but he won't blow you away with his athleticism.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Pretty good bull rush. Can get in on the pads of a blocker and push linemen back.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Good speed rush for a man of his size. Uses this and his bull rush as a great combination.

    Run Defense

    4

    Not a good run-defender by any means.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Good burst off the line of scrimmage, which leads to a very powerful rush.

    Strength

    6

    A big man with solid natural strength.

    Shed Blockers

    5.5

    He's more of an "north and south" type of player. Needs to develop a better shed move.

    Read & React

    7

    He sees the play and reacts accordingly.

    Tackle

    5

    Must get better as a tackler in order to move up a list like this.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    61.5

    He's a good pass-rush DT, but more of a situational player.

45. C.J. Mosley, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Agility

    5

    Looking at Mosley, you'd think he had better agility, but that's not the case.

    Bull Rush

    5

    Below average and slightly disappointing as a rusher.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Not a solid option in the passing game.

    Run Defense

    7

    A high level run defender. Puts himself in position to make tackles that matter.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    He's got good speed in the open field and a burst that allows him to get in the backfield.

    Strength

    6

    Decent strength, but leaning towards average.

    Shed Blockers

    6.5

    Must get better moving with the play, which means he must shed blocks better.

    Read & React

    5

    Struggles with this part of his game, most likely because of his inability to shed.

    Tackle

    7

    An above-average tackler who will take care of business.

    Health

    9

    Missed one game in 2011.

    Overall

    61.5

     C.J. Mosley is a very solid player in run situations.

44. B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers

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    Agility

    7

    Great agility for a guy who is one of the bigger linemen in the league.

    Bull Rush

    7

    He gets his feet behind him and has good strength to push back his blocker.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Possesses elusive speed and quickness for such a big man.

    Run Defense

    1

    Horrible run defender. Maybe the worst run-defending defensive tackle in the NFL.

    Speed/Burst

    8

    High-level speed and burst at the line that causes havoc for most centers.

    Strength

    7

    He's a very strong man and uses his strength to his advantage in the middle.

    Shed Blockers

    5.5

    He has a tough time with versatile movement. Very susceptible to getting caught up on a block.

    Read & React

    4

    He's a pass-rusher at heart. Has a tough time diagnosing run plays.

    Tackle

    4

    Not a fundamental tackler, but somehow pulls it together when sacking.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    61.5

    Raji had a very average 2011 after having an incredible impact on the Packers' Super Bowl run. He has the talent to be elite though.

43. Sammie Lee Hill, Detroit Lions

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    Agility

    6

    Good athlete with the ability to make plays anywhere on the field.

    Bull Rush

    7

    He'll knock his blocker down if he could. High level bull rush.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Quick player with a good first step in rushing situations.

    Run Defense

    5

    Not the best run defender, but to be fair, his whole team struggled in running situations.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    High-level burst of speed and first step.

    Strength

    6

    He's not known for overpowering blockers, but he has great strength.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Very good at using his hands to keep a blocker off of him.

    Read & React

    5

    Good at watching the play develop and reacting to what he sees.

    Tackle

    5

    Not even close to the best tackler on a team that had a hard time tackling.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    62

    Hill is a situational role player more than anything else, but could be a great role player.

42. Justin Bannan, St. Louis Rams

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    Agility

    6

    Average athleticism, but good for a defensive lineman.

    Bull Rush

    5

    He's not a great pass-rusher and his bull rush is similarly not great.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Won't beat many people because of his speed with the rush.

    Run Defense

    8

    Great run defender, nearing elite. Good field vision and ability to get off blocks and into lanes.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Not an extremely fast player and below average first step.

    Strength

    6

    Average strength for a lineman of his size.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Uses his hands well to keep blockers from locking in on him.

    Read & React

    6

    Could be better at reading out the play before it happens.

    Tackle

    6

    Decent tackler with good fundamentals. Needs to improve a bit, but is fairly consistent.

    Health

    9

    Missed one game in 2011.

    Overall

    62

    Solid player that will do more good than harm for your defense.

41. Brandon Mebane, Seattle Seahawks

24 of 65

     

    Agility

    7

    Very good athleticism for a defensive tackle. Can move and make plays.

    Bull Rush

    2

    Absolutely abysmal bull rush. Definitely not his greatest asset.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Same deal here with his speed rush. He's not a guy known for rushing the quarterback.

    Run Defense

    7

    Nearing a high level of run-stopping abilities on defense. He's very good against the rush.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Good speed and burst at the line of scrimmage. Allows him to blow up plays.

    Strength

    7

    Mebane is a notch or two below elite strength. He'll push guys around when he has to.

    Shed Blockers

    5

    Must improve on using his hands to get free of blocks.

    Read & React

    7

    He sees the play as it is happening. Possesses great awareness and control to seek the ball out.

    Tackle

    8

    High-level tackler with very good fundamentals. Wraps up with low pad level.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    62

    Brandon Mebane is a huge piece of the Seahawks run defense. Very good at what he does, but you can't trust him as a rusher.

40. Kelly Gregg, Kansas City Chiefs

25 of 65

     

    Agility

    5

    Agility has started to regress with age. Gregg still moves well laterally.

    Bull Rush

    3

    Very bad bull-rush technique that needs a lot of help.

    Speed Rush

    2

    The only thing worse than Gregg's bull rush is his speed rush.

    Run Defense

    7.5

    His ineptitude as a rusher is completely covered up by his smarts and skills in the run game.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    No elite speed to speak of here.

    Strength

    8

    Very strong player who can throw his weight around at the line of scrimmage.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Could get better, but possesses the ability to shed blocks at a high level.

    Read & React

    8

    Nearing elite in the read-and-react category. This is Gregg's strength as a defender.

    Tackle

    8

    Solid, fundamental tackler who will bring the ball-carrier down more times than not.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any time in 2011.

    Overall

    62.5

    The 12-year vet is still a very good run-stopping tackle, but is limited as a pass-rusher.

39. Linval Joseph, New York Giants

26 of 65

     

    Agility

    7

    Has the agility to move laterally and upfield at the snap.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Strong enough to push and drive the center back off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Joseph gets good penetration at the snap, showing the ability to turn his body and sneak through the line.

    Run Defense

    2.5

    Gets too far upfield and then struggles to catch as the back runs by.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Shows a nice quick step, with the speed to give chase.

    Strength

    7

    Strong enough to tie up blockers at the line of scrimmage.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Does a good job ripping through blockers with strong swim and rip moves.

    Read & React

    6

    Can get lost in the run game, but reads the pass very well.

    Tackle

    3

    Hugs air too often, missing tackles by coming in high.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    63.5

    Joseph is a good pass-rusher in the Giants' aggressive scheme, but his inability to help against the run or consistently grab backs for a tackle is a concern. Heading into his third year, Joseph is still young enough to develop these areas and round out his game.

38. Fred Robbins, St. Louis Rams

27 of 65

     

    Agility

    5

    Doesn't show the quickness or burst to fly off the line and make plays.

    Bull Rush

    4

    Shows a weak bull rush that doesn't force the center or guard to backpedal.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Has a good first step, but lacks counter-moves to follow up.

    Run Defense

    8

    Robbins does a great job slicing through the line to make tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Lacks the speed or burst to make an impact off the ball.

    Strength

    7

    Has the strength to close on the ball and take down runners at full speed.

    Shed Blockers

    5.5

    Will get tied up if blockers show quick feet to slide with him.

    Read & React

    7.5

    A smart, experienced player who won't bite on draws or screens.

    Tackle

    7.5

    Uses his long arms to wrap and lock on ball-carriers.

    Health

    9

    Missed one game in 2011.

    Overall

    63.5

    Robbins is a solid, underrated interior lineman for the Rams. He enjoyed a good year playing in the "B" gap, showing a solid speed rush, but most importantly stuffing the run.

37. Tommy Kelly, Oakland Raiders

28 of 65

     

    Agility

    6

    Kelly has above-average agility, but his game isn't built on quickness.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Does a good job getting initial push off the line, but will get stood up at times.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Can split the gap and get penetration, but doesn't close well.

    Run Defense

    4

    Will get turned at the line and can be walled off.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Has enough burst to make a small impact, but lacks overall speed.

    Strength

    7

    Kelly is srong enough at the point of attack, but lacks the strength to drive blockers back off the ball.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Can use his hands to disengage while on the move.

    Read & React

    6

    Sees the ball well and does a nice job following his reads.

    Tackle

    5

    Will miss too many tackles by losing leverage and control.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games last season.

    Overall

    64

    Kelly is a very solid defensive lineman who gets moved around in Oakland's versatile schemes. He has good overall skills, but lacks the top-level athleticism, tackling skills, or instincts to be a star (despite his $50 million contract).

36. Shaun Cody, Houston Texans

29 of 65

     

    Agility

    6

    Does a good job moving left or right at the snap. Limited flexibility.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Fires off low and can quickly get into the body of the center to drive him off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Can close on the ball if there's an opening, but is primarily used in zero-technique situations.

    Run Defense

    5

    Is more of a helper in the run game, where his job is to take on blockers and free up linebackers to make plays.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Can be a little late to fire out of his snap and lacks the burst to change direction.

    Strength

    7

    Fundamentally strong at the point of attack.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Has shown he can use his hands to break free, but will get tied up in combo blocks.

    Read & React

    6

    Quick to read and react with nice flow to the ball.

    Tackle

    6

    An impact tackler who does a nice job wrapping up.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    64

    Cody adapted well to the role of nose tackle once Houston moved to a 3-4 defense, but this isn't his ideal position. Cody lacks the bulk and strength to take on centers and guards consistently.

35. Kyle Love, New England Patriots

30 of 65

     

    Agility

    6

    Has good quickness, but shows some stiffness in his hips and can be slow to shift his weight and run.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Has a strong first step and a good motor to push through blockers and create distance at the line of scrimmage.

    Speed Rush

    2

    Lacks the speed and burst to be an effective rusher off the edge or in space.

    Run Defense

    9

    Dominant on the edge, Love did a great job providing an anchor at the end of the defensive line.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Love's burst is solid, with an above-average grade, but he lacks the chase speed of smaller, quicker linemen.

    Strength

    7

    Has very good strength to win battles in one-on-one situations.

    Shed Blockers

    5.5

    Love must get better using his hands to bat away blockers.

    Read & React

    6

    Improved throughout the year, but Love is still learning how to read the keys of the line and backs.

    Tackle

    7

    A hard hitter who will close on the ball and rarely miss a tackle opportunity.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    64.5

    Love was a hidden star on the Patriots' Super Bowl team, showing the versatility to be a factor at multiple positions along the defensive line. As the team moves back to a 3-4 defense in 2012, look for Love to be featured at defensive end.

34. Mike Patterson, Philadelphia Eagles

31 of 65

     

    Agility

    7

    Patterson shows good body lean and a nice lateral step off the ball.

    Bull Rush

    5

    Can get driven back off the ball if he's not giving full effort, Patterson is much better in space.

    Speed Rush

    7

    Quick enough to shoot the gaps and penetrate from the shoulder of the lineman in front of him.

    Run Defense

    5.5

    Can struggle to locate and react to the ball.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Has a good first step and nice inside quickness, but will get bogged down giving chase.

    Strength

    6.5

    Patterson has good enough strength, but he's not at the point where he can move guys off the line.

    Shed Blockers

    6.5

    Uses his hands well, but if a blocker ties him up,, he won't break free.

    Read & React

    6

    Can struggle to locate the ball through the line.

    Tackle

    5.5

    Patterson really struggles to lock on and bring runners down. He'll come in high and whiff with wide arms.

    Health

    9

    Missed just one game in 2011.

    Overall

    65

    Patterson is very solid, and every year it seems like he's ready to break out, but he hasn't yet. As a penetrating 3-technique lineman he has good value, but if the Eagles can upgrade through the draft or later in free agency, don't be surprised to see them pull the trigger.

33. Gary Gibson, St. Louis Rams

32 of 65

     

    Agility

    5

    Gibson has the baseline agility needed for the position. He'll struggle to move in space.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Will generate some movement off the ball, but Gibson isn't strong enough to drive top players off the line.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Has good quickness when he gets in a 1-gap situation.

    Run Defense

    7

    Does a great job taking on blockers to open tackle lanes for linebackers, but can also split blockers to make a play on the ball.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Limited speed and burst, but shows a nice first step.

    Strength

    7

    Strong enough to be an effective player, but won't overpower defenders at the point of attack.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Does a good job keeping his pad level down to avoid blockers.

    Read & React

    6

    Does a great job fighting down the offensive line and staying in position to attack the ball on cutbacks.

    Tackle

    7

    Has a nonstop motor to give chase and bring down runners from behind.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    65

    Gibson's road to the NFL has been rough (an undrafted free agent, then out of the league for a year), but he's back and played well in 2011 as a starting tackle. It will be interesting to watch Gibson's development with a full offseason under his belt.

32. Aubrayo Franklin, New Orleans Saints

33 of 65

     

    Agility

    5

    Has solid agility for a nose tackle, but when playing in space he's limited.

    Bull Rush

    8

    Franklin is strong enough to drive the center off the ball and shorten the pocket for quarterbacks.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Lacks the speed to maximize space when he does split the gap and find a clear path to the quarterback.

    Run Defense

    7

    Strong at the point of attack, Franklin is at his best taking up blockers and letting linebackers run free.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Has good movement, but lacks the speed to track down the ball.

    Strength

    8

    Franklin is a massive man with good lower-body strength and power-train drive.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Has quick hands to break free of blockers, but can get tied up easily and never recover.

    Read & React

    7

    Finds the ball well and shows the awareness to keep his pads down.

    Tackle

    7

    A wrap-up tackler who has great reach.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any time in 2011.

    Overall

    66

    Franklin is a better fit as a nose tackle, but the Saints didn't let him play exclusively over the center in 2011, leading to a drop-off in production and play. If moved back into a zero-technique position, Franklin is strong enough and smart enough to be a quality starter.

31. Antonio Garay, San Diego Chargers

34 of 65

     

    Agility

    5

    Garay has baseline agility, but doesn't stand out.

    Bull Rush

    8

    Plays with very good leverage off the ball, which allows him to drive blockers off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Lacks the speed to close the door in space. Won't close on the quarterback fast enough.

    Run Defense

    6

    Garay takes good angles, but he has limited range.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Has average speed, but at the least a powerful first step.

    Strength

    8

    Very strong, Garay can dig in and anchor in the middle of the line.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Does just an okay job of using his hands to keep blockers from getting to his frame.

    Read & React

    7

    Does a good job tying up blockers and recognizing schemes.

    Tackle

    7

    Will make a good number of plays inside the tackle box, but none outside it.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    68

    Garay is a solid guard-tackle defensive lineman, but if asked to extend or make plays outside the area, he doesn't bring much to the table. In a 3-4 defense he fits the mold of nose tackle very well.

30. Isaac Sopoaga, San Francisco 49ers

35 of 65

     

    Agility

    6

    Limited laterally, Sopoaga has good balance and a nice body lean.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Has the strength to push at the line, but doesn't get asked to do so often.

    Speed Rush

    4

    Sopoaga is not a speed rusher by any means.

    Run Defense

    8

    Excels at taking on blockers, but won't make many tackles himself.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Has a nice first step, but doesn't follow up with the quickness to pursue.

    Strength

    9

    Has a big, thick, wide body that can take up space. He's strong enough to handle the center without any trouble.

    Shed Blockers

    5.5

    For as big and strong as he is, Sopoaga doesn't do a good job breaking free of blockers once engaged.

    Read & React

    7

    Does a good job keeping his pads down and reading the ball.

    Tackle

    8

    Can locate the ball and grab runners in the backfield.

    Health

    9

    Sat out one game in 2011.

    Overall

    68.5

    A valuable piece in the 49ers run defense, Sopoaga's job is to take on two blockers at a time, controlling the gaps and letting Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman make plays. And he does a damn good job at it. Sopoaga doesn't bring much value as a pass-rusher, but the 49ers bring heat from the middle of the defense, not the front and center.

29. Tony Hargrove, Green Bay Packers

36 of 65

     

    Agility

    7

    Has good short-area quickness with nice straight-line skills.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Strong enough in a box to push blockers back when locked up.

    Speed Rush

    5

    More of a 2-gap player than a penetrator who can split the difference and attack the backfield.

    Run Defense

    7

    Can make plays against the run as a tackler, and will handle 2-gaps without much trouble.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Has nice short-area quickness, but lacks long speed.

    Strength

    7

    Hargrove plays strong for his size, but was overmatched when lining up inside.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Doesn't get free as quickly as you'd like, but does have nice hand use.

    Read & React

    7

    Does a good job recognizing blocking schemes.

    Tackle

    7

    A solid tackler with good form and few missed tackles in 2011.

    Health

    9

    Missed just one game in 2011.

    Overall

    69

    Standing 6'3" and a little over 270 pounds, Hargrove has the ability to play inside at tackle or kick out to DE in a bigger scheme, like a 3-4 defense. That's what he'll do in Green Bay, as the Packers look for him to anchor the edge of the defensive line.

28. Ahtyba Rubin, Cleveland Browns

37 of 65

     

    Agility

    6

    Rubin has a good first step, but limited range.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Has a powerful first step and good hand placement to drive blockers off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Surprising short-area quickness and good enough closing speed.

    Run Defense

    7

    Does a good job shutting down running lanes with his massive frame.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Limited speed in space, but has a good first step.

    Strength

    6

    Strong enough to handle individual blockers, but cannot beat a double team.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Shows good hand use and is effective slipping blockers when they latch.

    Read & React

    7

    Improved his ability to locate the ball and read blocking schemes throughout the year.

    Tackle

    8

    A consistent tackler who won't miss many tackles.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    69

    Rubin had a very good 2011, emerging as a legitimate long-term starter for the Cleveland Browns at defensive tackle next to Phil Taylor. Rubin is still improving as a technician, and big results are expected in 2012.

27. Terrance Knighton, Jacksonville Jaguars

38 of 65

     

    Agility

    6

    Has good quickness off the ball, and nice natural strength.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Good enough strength to drive interior linemen back at the snap.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Good initial quickness is wasted with poor speed.

    Run Defense

    7

    Penetrates the line well and can locate the ball once he's through the line.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Has nice quickness, but lacks the speed to chase or pursue.

    Strength

    8

    Very strong, with a big body and thick legs which power his massive frame.

    Shed Blockers

    6.5

    Can struggle to disengage using his hands. Can slip through the line at times.

    Read & React

    8

    Shows good pre-snap recognition.

    Tackle

    8

    A strong tackler who is improving his ability to drop runners at the line.

    Health

    8

    Missed three games in 2011.

    Overall

    69.5

    Knighton played better in 2011 once he got in game shape after the lockout. His weight may always be an issue, but when the whistle blows he's a gamer. The Jaguars have found a very good run-defender who adds pressure on the pocket in passing situations.

26. Chris Canty, New York Giants

39 of 65

     

    Agility

    7

    Has very good athletic ability for a big man, but can struggle to keep his pads down.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Canty is strong enough to push off the line and generate pressure on the pocket.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Does a good job initially, but doesn't close on the quarterback well enough.

    Run Defense

    7

    Does a very good job reading the run and closing down lanes.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Good initial jump off the line is masked by his inconsistent closing speed.

    Strength

    7

    Has very good upper-body strength, but doesn't always use it effectively due to poor leverage.

    Shed Blockers

    6.5

    Uses his length to keep blockers at length, but will let too many get inside his frame.

    Read & React

    7

    Can be slow to recognize blocking schemes before the snap.

    Tackle

    7

    Has long arms to grab and reach ball-carriers.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any time last season.

    Overall

    69.5

    Canty has played both defensive end and tackle in his career, but he's enjoyed success playing inside for the Giants. Canty has a solid all-around game. Not great in any one area, but very solid throughout.

25. Amobi Okoye, Chicago Bears

40 of 65

     

    Agility

    7

    Okoye has very good initial quickness, but poor pad height.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Has a decent push off the line, but has limited strength.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Able to quickly get past guards, finding holes to rush the passer.

    Run Defense

    6

    Gets good penetration, but fails to lock down holes and will let runners slide past him.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Has good overall speed and burst with few limitations.

    Strength

    6

    Strong enough to tackle in the open field, but not strong enough to dominate blockers.

    Shed Blockers

    6.5

    Uses his hands well to control blockers.

    Read & React

    7

    Getting better at reading the ball.

    Tackle

    6

    Can be an impact tackler, but misses too many easy targets.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    69.5

    Okoye is still very young considering how long he's been in the NFL, and the 2011 season showed he's on the right path to becoming the player the Houston Texans thought he would be. The Bears are getting max production from the former No. 10 overall pick in the NFL draft.

24. Paul Soliai, Miami Dolphins

41 of 65

     

    Agility

    6

    Very good natural power and body lean, but average athleticism.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Strong off the ball, but doesn't churn his feet or roll his hips through the play, keeping him from driving back the center.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Lacks the speed or athleticism to be an effective rusher in space.

    Run Defense

    7.5

    Does a great job plugging holes and allowing his linebackers swoop in to make tackles.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Soliai has good burst off the snap, but lacks follow-up speed.

    Strength

    9

    One of the strongest players at NT, he can handle blockers without a problem.

    Shed Blockers

    5.5

    Largely attributable to the position and role he plays, you won't see Soliai shedding blockers. Instead, he's asked to actually hold on to them.

    Read & React

    9

    Very smart player who quickly recognizes draws and screens.

    Tackle

    8

    Shows very good form and technique, but, again, didn't produce many numbers due to his position's requirements.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    70

    One of the better nose tackles in the NFL, Soliai does all he's asked at a very high level. Where he grades out lower than others is in that he's not a pass-rusher or run stuffer—he's a lane plugging, wide body.

23. Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers

42 of 65

     

    Agility

    5

    A limited athlete who has started to slow down considerably in his advanced age.

    Bull Rush

    9

    Strong and smart enough to blow off the line and push back blockers.

    Speed Rush

    1

    A non-factor to beat blockers with speed, Hampton is all power.

    Run Defense

    8

    Playing nose tackle, he's primarily asked to occupy blockers, but Hampton does a good job making tackles in traffic too.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Has good burst with nice foot speed, but will never be called fast.

    Strength

    10

    One of the strongest players in the NFL—regardless of position.

    Shed Blockers

    6

    Hampton has a nice rip move and is strong enough to get free when needed.

    Read & React

    9

    One of the smartest players at reading the offensive line before the snap.

    Tackle

    9

    Very strong at the point of attack, Hampton can pull down runners with one arm while fighting blockers with the other.

    Health

    8

    Hampton missed three games in 2011.

    Overall

    71

    Even as he nears the end of his great career, Hampton remains one of the best nose tackles in the game. His strength and burst off the ball remain a standard by which incoming players are graded. Hampton's importance to the Steeler defense cannot be understated.

22. Cam Thomas, San Diego Chargers

43 of 65

     

    Agility

    6

    Thomas has above average lateral quickness and agility.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Can get enough push off the ball, but must improve at keeping his pad height down.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Is a limited athlete, but he will show nice burst and acceleration when given room to rush the QB.

    Run Defense

    8

    Does a good job collapsing rushing lanes with his massive frame.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Limited overall speed and burst, Thomas lacks top-level athleticism.

    Strength

    7

    Has a huge frame and effectively holds his ground.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Uses his hands well to disengage blockers.

    Read & React

    6

    Improved throughout the 2011 season, but is still learning how to read the offensive line.

    Tackle

    8

    Rarely misses tackles when he's able to come off blocks to hit the ball-carrier.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    71

    Cam Thomas surprised me during the 2011 season. The second-year player from UNC wasn't high on my preseason watch list, but his play definitely caught me eye, especially against the run. He's an up and comer on the defensive line.

21. Shaun Rogers, New Orleans Saints

44 of 65

     

    Agility

    5

    No longer has the quickness or flexibility to make plays past the line of scrimmage.

    Bull Rush

    10

    The 350-pound beast of a man has the size and strength to hit the center and collapse the pocket, driving the blockers back on to the quarterback.

    Speed Rush

    3

    Rogers lacks the quickness to effectively rush in space.

    Run Defense

    7.5

    Much more natural as a lane-clogging tackle, Rogers will do a good job rubbing off blockers to make tackles.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Shows some quickness initially, but has regressed in speed and burst.

    Strength

    8

    Has upper level natural strength, with a massive frame to go along with it.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Can rip and break free of blockers who tie him up at the line.

    Read & React

    8

    Smart enough to recognize pulling guards and pick up on traps.

    Tackle

    8

    Able to track and tackle in the open field or in traffic.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    71.5

    Rogers played well in a 4-3 scheme in 2011, a change from what he had done previously in Cleveland. Rogers' power and burst are tough for any interior offensive lineman to handle, and opens up big pass-rushing lanes for tackles and ends next to him.

20. Brodrick Bunkley, New Orleans Saints

45 of 65

     

    Agility

    8

    Bunkley has top-notch quickness and very good body control out of his stance.

    Bull Rush

    4

    Can get a little high and will be washed down off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Has a great first step, with stiff hips to roll through blocks.

    Run Defense

    10

    Exceptional run-stopping ability. He'll hold up blockers at the point and can also shed and run for the tackle.

    Speed/Burst

    5

    Bunkley has average speed and burst for a 300-pounder.

    Strength

    8

    Has the strength to hold the point of attack at the line of scrimmage.

    Shed Blockers

    4

    Could stand to use his hands better to break free from blocks.

    Read & React

    7

    Quick to recognize and react after the snap.

    Tackle

    10

    Fights to the ball and will bring down runners in the open field.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    72

    When the 2012 season unfolds, one of the most underrated free-agent signings of the offseason will be Bunkley to the New Orleans Saints. In signing Bunkley, the Saints get one of the best interior run stuffers in the NFL, and a player who will draw double teams to create pass-rushing opportunities down the line.

19. Derek Landri, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Agility

    6

    Landri has good first-step quickness and balance.

    Bull Rush

    8

    Strong enough to take on blockers and drive them back off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Not great at using speed to generate a pass rush.

    Run Defense

    10

    Has elite ability to find the ball and bring down runners. One of the best we charted against the run.

    Speed/Burst

    6

    Lacks body control when he fires off, but has good quickness.

    Strength

    9

    An exceptionally strong player who uses his strength on the field to take on blockers and make tackles.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Shows a good skill to split blockers, but could use his hands better to rip or swim free.

    Read & React

    7

    Is a classic read-and-react player who has the quickness to flow to the ball..

    Tackle

    7

    Makes a lot of ankle tackles, but can close on the ball in a hurry.

    Health

    7

    Landri missed four games in 2011.

    Overall

    73

    A stout player who works well in a 4-3 defense as a 1-gap penetrator, Landri was exceptional against the run last season. He showed great vision, strength and patience in his assignments. The five-year vet out of Notre Dame has been severely overlooked and underrated.

18. Cullen Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Agility

    8

    Has very good overall athletic skills, showing the strength and quickness needed to dominate.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Has a good first step and flashes good ability, but doesn't have the strength to be great in this area.

    Speed Rush

    9

    Displays the quickness and burst to be a nightmare for interior linemen.

    Run Defense

    5

    Grades out as average against the run. Flashes ability at times, but too inconsistent.

    Speed/Burst

    8

    Is fast enough to make plays in space—whether that's rushing the passer or chasing down running backs.

    Strength

    6

    Possesses good lower-body strength, but plays without great leverage.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Jenkins can be tied up when blockers get inside his body, but he shows good hand strength to break free.

    Read & React

    7

    Has a quick eye and can pick up on what the offense is doing in a hurry.

    Tackle

    6

    Will let runners get out of his grasp too often due to an over-reliance on arm tackles.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any time in 2011.

    Overall

    73

    Cullen Jenkins had a strong 2011 campaign, and his rushing ability will make him one of the more valuable players at his position in 2012 as well. Jenkins' importance on the Eagles' defensive line allows players like Jason Babin and Trent Cole to have less attention placed on them.

17. Albert Haynesworth, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Agility

    8

    Is a phenomenal athlete who runs hot and cold. When he wants to play hard, he's unstoppable.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Will get a little high at times, but Haynesworth can drive players off the ball and get to the quarterback.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Quick enough to slice through gaps and attack the passer.

    Run Defense

    7

    Played the run surprisingly well in 2011, Haynesworth was tough at the point of attack.

    Speed/Burst

    8

    Has great quickness to get out of his stance and fire off between the guard/tackle or guard/center splits.

    Strength

    6

    There's no question that Haynesworth has strength, but how and when he uses it keeps his grade low.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    When he stays low and fires off, Haynesworth is damn-near impossible to block.

    Read & React

    7

    Did a better job finding the ball in a 4-3 scheme; in the 3-4 he was too often lost.

    Tackle

    6

    Has the motor to attack the backfield and bring down runners.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    73

    Albert Haynesworth is maddeningly inconsistent, but when he turns it on there are few better in a 4-3 undertackle position. Haynesworth has top-five talent, but finds himself at No. 17 due to the lack of consistency and production.

16. Alan Branch, Seattle Seahawks

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    Agility

    7

    A long, lean athlete with good quickness but poor pad height at times.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Gets a little high in his bull rush, failing to sink his hips and drive from his rear.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Has the closing speed to rip and attack.

    Run Defense

    9

    Really improved in 2011 at keeping his pads down and squeezing down the line to take on the ball. Branch's biggest area of improvement so far.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Has an above average first step with good speed to chase due to his long stride.

    Strength

    7

    Functionally strong, Branch shows good strength when he keeps leverage.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Flashes good hand use to free himself of blockers.

    Read & React

    7

    Throughout the year we could see Branch "getting it" more and more each week. By Week 17 last year, he was keying on blockers and making the right calls.

    Tackle

    8

    Rarely missed a tackle opportunity in the game tape reviewed.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any time last year.

    Overall

    74

    Branch was considered a disappointment—a bust even—after his first four seasons in Arizona. Branch turned a corner in Seattle last year, becoming the team's best defensive tackle, and providing the run support and pass rush Pete Carroll needed from his No. 1 tackle.

15. Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans

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    Agility

    7

    Casey has a very low center of gravity and the natural quickness to create openings.

    Bull Rush

    8

    Fires off the ball low, and does a great job keeping his weight balanced to drive his way through the line.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Has better-than-advertised quickness and the flexibility to accelerate in space.

    Run Defense

    8

    Was masterful against the run for a rookie. Quick to identify the ball and in closing down holes as a zero-technique lineman.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Shows a strong first step, but his follow-up quickness is more limited.

    Strength

    8

    Has very good strength throughout, showing the upper- and lower-body strength to hold the point of attack.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Can be slippery, but he needs to be more consistent.

    Read & React

    6

    Can be late to read the play, but is often in the right place at the right time.

    Tackle

    7.5

    Is a strong player with good reach to wrap up and grab runners.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    74.5

    A player I was all over before the 2011 draft, the former USC stud didn't disappoint, living up to his sleeper status. With great strength at the point of attack and a strong bull rush, Casey has the raw talent to quickly become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL.

14. Pernell McPhee, Baltimore Ravens

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    Agility

    7

    Shows top-level flexibility and body control on the move. 

    Bull Rush

    9

    Near elite, and would score higher if there was a little more consistency in how well he disengages.

    Speed Rush

    9

    Shows very good flexibility to dip his shoulder and create penetration on the inside.

    Run Defense

    4.5

    Grades out as average against the run. Flashes ability at times, but too inconsistent.

    Speed/Burst

    8

    McPhee is a bit undersized when lining up inside, which gives him a big advantage in speed over bigger linemen.

    Strength

    8

    Shows very good strength to move blockers and get to the ball.

    Shed Blockers

    7.5

    Has the strength to release when locked up.

    Read & React

    7

    Sees the ball very well, making plays post-snap in a hurry.

    Tackle

    5

    Missed too many tackles during last year to have a higher score.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    75

    Plays a hybrid role at end and tackle, McPhee comes in at tackle due to his being covered up by an end. What matters most is that McPhee gets the job done. The Ravens will move him around in a 5- and 3-man front to find the best possible matchup.

13. Karl Klug, Tennessee Titans

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    Agility

    8

    A sound athlete with very good quickness and natural strength.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Can generate a little push, but is best when he's splitting the gaps.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Does a good job baiting blockers to sleep and then exploding off their inside shoulder.

    Run Defense

    5

    Struggled to make consistent stops against the run during the 2011 season.

    Speed/Burst

    8

    Klug has great feet and a strong first step that lets him beat guards to the hole.

    Strength

    8

    Has very good overall strength.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Can be tied up when blockers get inside his body, but he shows good hand strength to break free.

    Read & React

    7

    Klug shows a good ability to recognize blocking assignments and formations before the snap. Sees and flows to the ball well.

    Tackle

    8

    Klug doesn't have many missed tackles, doing a good job making a play for the ball on the inside.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games last year.

    Overall

    75

    The 142nd overall pick in the 2011 draft, Klug went into his rookie campaign without many expectations. Now, his play next to Jurrell Casey has the team excited for the future. He's an aggressive, quick pass-rusher with the skills to separate from blockers on the inside.

12. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions

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    Agility

    10

    Suh is an amazing, rare athlete who has the quickness, strength and balance that few players possess.

    Bull Rush

    10

    Quick enough to fire off the ball and catch blockers off guard. Uses his strength to finish the play by driving them out of the pocket.

    Speed Rush

    10

    Has a rare first step, which lets him slice through the line and get blockers to turn their shoulders to try to catch him.

    Run Defense

    1

    Too often Suh will overrun the play, allowing the runner to get up inside his lane.

    Speed/Burst

    10

    Moves like a player 40 pounds lighter.

    Strength

    8

    Strong enough to beat most guards and centers in the NFL.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Can expose himself to being tied up from an angle block, especially on traps.

    Read & React

    3

    Gets tunnel vision too often and forgets to look for the run. Teams are using Suh's quick penetration of the line against him, by running draws and counters to his hole.

    Tackle

    8

    Does a great job securing tackles to ensure runners don't break free.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    77

    Suh is a puzzling and, at times, frustrating player. He didn't show the same dominance his sophomore campaign, as his numbers and control dropped off. He was suspended for stomping on a player, struggled against the run, and was still one of the hardest players in the NFL to block.

11. John Henderson, Oakland Raiders

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    Agility

    7

    A huge man with good quickness, Henderson is tough to control when he's running free.

    Bull Rush

    6

    Shows the strength and quickness to win against guards, getting his hands inside their frame to drive them back.

    Speed Rush

    6

    Quick enough to be used as a gap penetrator, where he's highly effective at pressuring the quarterback.

    Run Defense

    9

    Henderson uses his long arms well to reach and lock down runners. Can also sit and anchor to close holes.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Henderson has lost a little bit of his quickness, but on any given play he's fast enough to dominate.

    Strength

    8

    With a huge frame and great all-around strength, Henderson is statue-esque.

    Shed Blockers

    9

    Has good hand speed to break free from the grasp of blockers.

    Read & React

    8

    Has the ability to see the play before it happens, putting himself in great position to make plays.

    Tackle

    9

    Players with long arms and the strength of Henderson rarely miss tackles. He fits the mold well.

    Health

    8

    Missed three games in 2011.

    Overall

    77

    The 10th-year man out of Tennessee may be slowing down some, but he's still nearly impossible to block when asked to fire off the ball and chase the quarterback.

10. Jonathan Babineaux, Atlanta Falcons

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    Agility

    7

    Has very good quickness, with natural body control and balance.

    Bull Rush

    9

    Uses his quickness and leverage to mask average strength at the point of attack. Can hit and drive blockers off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Babineaux is quick enough to spin or rip off blocks and quickly close on the football.

    Run Defense

    7

    Can get pushed around inside when lined up in gaps.

    Speed/Burst

    8

    Doesn't have great range outside the hashes, but does generate good penetration with a quick first step.

    Strength

    7

    Has good, but not great strength.

    Shed Blockers

    9

    Babineaux is tough to block, and even harder to hold on to once he's locked up. Great technique to disengage.

    Read & React

    8

    Is a see-and-go defender who has quick eyes and feet to match.

    Tackle

    7

    Lack of great strength limits his ability to tackle and hold on.

    Health

    8

    Missed three games in 2011.

    Overall

    78

    A true player you must watch in 2012, Babineaux surprised the heck out of us during the 2011 season. Few players have his combination of quickness and flawless technique. Other top tackles are physical specimens, but Babineaux is a throwback with a high motor and great all-around fundamentals.

9. Henry Melton, Chicago Bears

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    Agility

    10

    An absolute freak, Melton played running back his first two years in college before moving over to defense at Texas.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Melton's bull rush is built more on quickness, but he has good knee bend and leverage.

    Speed Rush

    9

    A true 3-technique tackle who has the quickness to get guards turned, which is when his burst shows up to finish quarterbacks.

    Run Defense

    5.5

    Can be turned and pushed off the ball, but showed improving technique and strength throughout the year.

    Speed/Burst

    10

    Has rare speed and burst for the defensive tackle position. May be the fastest player at this position in the entire NFL.

    Strength

    8

    Melton's lower-body quickness is elite, but he's still learning how to use that strength and improve his upper-body at the same time.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Needs to learn to use his hands to rip away, but does a good job through natural strength and quickness.

    Read & React

    6

    More of a disruptive force than a read-and-react guy, Melton needs to continue learning how to read the splits and alignment of offenses.

    Tackle

    7

    Missed some easy tackles in 2011 by coming in too high.

    Health

    9

    Missed just one game in 2011.

    Overall

    78.5

    The first thing you notice about Henry Melton is that he's an incredible athlete. There's not much he can't do in space, where his speed and natural agility shine. Melton has started to show the player he will be, displaying great skills to penetrate the line and attack the backfield.

8. Jay Ratliff, Dallas Cowboys

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    Agility

    7

    Ratliff has very good natural power and balance.

    Bull Rush

    9

    Fires off the ball low and strong, using his leverage and low center of gravity to drive the center.

    Speed Rush

    7

    Ratliff has quick hands to bat and run when attacking in a one-on-one situation.

    Run Defense

    7.5

    Occupies blockers, playing solid assignment football. Doesn't produce many tackles.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Has the speed to chase down runners and extend the play outside the tackle box.

    Strength

    7

    Slightly undersized as a nose tackle, Ratliff gets by with great leverage and quickness.

    Shed Blockers

    7.5

    Has good hand strength and a quick spin move to get free from blocks.

    Read & React

    9

    A smart player who not only recognizes pre-snap formations, but won't get sucked in on misdirections.

    Tackle

    8

    Has strong hands and long arms to grab runners. Can be a solid wrap-up tackler.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games last season.

    Overall

    79

    A stud nose tackle, Ratliff is a key piece in the Cowboys defense. His ability to draw double teams frees up his inside linebackers to roam and make tackles. But he also draws in guards, which allows more space for DeMarcus Ware to operate on the edge.

7. Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills

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    Agility

    8

    When you consider that Dareus is 340 pounds, watching him moves as well as he does is shocking.

    Bull Rush

    7

    Was getting a little high in his stance during the 2011 season. Must learn to drop ass and fire off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    9

    Great ability to use his speed to get around blockers and beat them off the ball.

    Run Defense

    7

    Good run defender. Can find the ball-carrier and makes positive plays for the defense.

    Speed/Burst

    9

    Great speed off the line of scrimmage. Can get into a gap before the blocker even gets out of their stance.

    Strength

    9

    Excellent game-changing strength in both his upper and lower body. Can move the line of scrimmage back.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Very good at using his hands to keep a blocker off of him.

    Read & React

    7

    He sees the play as it is happening. Possesses great awareness and control to seek the ball out.

    Tackle

    7

    High-level tackler with very good fundamentals. Wraps up with low pad level.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    80

    Marcell Dareus enjoyed a great rookie season, especially considering the Bills moved him from a 3-4 defensive end to nose tackle after Kyle Williams went down with injury. Dareus will move back to tackle in a 4-3 front in 2012, which is his more his natural position.

6. Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots

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    Agility

    10

    Wilfork is scary quick and fluid in the open field. Watching him move around (and return interceptions) is a treat.

    Bull Rush

    9

    A high-level bull rush. He gets his feet behind him and has good strength to push back his blocker.

    Speed Rush

    2

    Wilfork is by no means a speed rusher. His game is all power.

    Run Defense

    8

    Wilfork isn't asked to make tackles, what he does (and he does it well) is take on blockers and eat up space in the line.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Has a first step that catches offensive linemen off guard. Can get to the hole before the guard is out of his stance.

    Strength

    10

    Exceptional strength with elite lower-body power.

    Shed Blockers

    8

    Has good hand use, but can still struggle to use secondary moves to get free.

    Read & React

    10

    Knows where to go on every play. Can even drop back in coverage at times if he reads it as a need.

    Tackle

    8

    Missed a handful of tackles in 2011 by coming in out of control.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    82

    Vince Wilfork remains one of the best interior linemen in the NFL, even as the Patriots moved him around more in 2011 as they shifted to a 4-3 defense. Wilfork has elite strength and agility for a man his size.

5. Sione Pouha, New York Jets

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    Agility

    6

    Quick enough with very good natural strength, Pouha can be limited laterally.

    Bull Rush

    8

    Has a powerful initial punch and can follow up by getting his pads into the blocker and driving them back.

    Speed Rush

    5

    Not a part of Pouha's game.

    Run Defense

    10

    Shuts down two gaps every play, taking on the middle of the offensive line and generating enough pressure that a center and guard are consistently blocking him.

    Speed/Burst

    7

    Has a good first step and nice inside quickness, but will get bogged down giving chase.

    Strength

    10

    Unbelievable strength, Pouha can dig in and anchor in the middle of the line.

    Shed Blockers

    7.5

    Can use his hands to disengage while on the move or in a box.

    Read & React

    9

    A smart, experienced player who won't bite on draws or screens. Is never out of position.

    Tackle

    10

    A hard-hitter who will close on the ball and rarely misses a tackle opportunity.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    82.5

    Pouha ranks as the best nose tackle in football, thanks to his strength and leverage at the point of attack, as well as his ability to take on two gaps every play. Darrelle Revis is the Jets' best defender, but the Tongan isn't far behind.

4. Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings

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    Agility

    8

    Has the agility to move laterally and upfield at the snap with the quickness to catch blockers off guard.

    Bull Rush

    8

    Strong enough to push and drive the center off the ball.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Generates more pressure than sacks, but has the speed to blow past guards waiting in their stance.

    Run Defense

    9

    Uses his speed and quickness to reestablish the line of scrimmage.

    Speed/Burst

    8

    Has excellent natural quickness and burst in space.

    Strength

    7

    Strong enough to handle individual blockers, but cannot beat a double team consistently.

    Shed Blockers

    8.5

    Can separate in traffic with strong, quick hands.

    Read & React

    9

    You won't fool Williams, who plays with excellent awareness and pre-snap recognition.

    Tackle

    8

    Williams won't miss many—if any—tackles.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    83.5

    No longer a double-digit sack artist, Williams has moved into the phase of his career where he's drawing more double teams, creating more pressures, and showing leadership on the line. He's incredibly valuable to the Vikings defense, and in 2011 he showed the quickness to still be a factor against the run.

3. Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders

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    Agility

    8

    A natural athlete who can switch from a power position to playing on the edge without losing production.

    Bull Rush

    8

    Has a high-level bull rush, but will get too high at times and can get lock-kneed.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Has the quickness and a nice swim move to play on the edge, but has never been a premier pass-rusher.

    Run Defense

    9

    Seymour is at his best anchoring on the edge, setting himself up to stop the run and force plays back inside. His penetration against the run is legendary.

    Speed/Burst

    9

    Seymour moved from a solid eight to a seven by the end of the 2011 season.

    Strength

    9

    Has good all-around strength, showing the legs to drive blockers, and the arms to reach and grab backs.

    Shed Blockers

    7

    Uses his hands well to generate separation, but will struggle to free himself from angle blocks.

    Read & React

    8

    An experienced, smart player who doesn't make mistakes.

    Tackle

    9

    A sure thing in traffic and in space, Seymour's missed tackles are few and far between.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    85

    Versatile enough to play end or tackle, Seymour remains one of the preeminent defensive linemen in the NFL, and a guide by which scouts grade young defensive linemen.

2. Geno Atkins, Cincinnatti Bengals

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    Agility

    7

    Atkins' subtle agility is hidden in his short, stocky frame, but it's there.

    Bull Rush

    9

    Fires off the line with low center of gravity and excellent body control, maximizing his momentum to crash and drive at the line of scrimmage.

    Speed Rush

    10

    Uses his quick first step to catch blockers off-guard. He's flexible enough to dip his shoulder and slip through the line.

    Run Defense

    7.5

    Can be disruptive in the run game, shows the ability to penetrate and make tackles. The one area where there is room for slight improvement would be his ability to stuff lanes.

    Speed/Burst

    8

    Has a short, but quick first step that lets him get inside the frame of blockers.

    Strength

    9

    Deceptively strong, watch Atkins use an outside rip move to stutter free of a blocker and you'll see how strong he is.

    Shed Blockers

    9

    Uses his hands, and entire upper body, to shake free of blockers.

    Read & React

    8

    For a second-year player, Atkins was lights out. Did a great job reading and reacting to keys in the alignment and backfield.

    Tackle

    8

    Missed two tackles in the games we charted this year. Atkins is a solid, sound tackler.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    85.5

    A second-year stud, Atkins has quickly surpassed his draft stock and expectations. He's a penetrator who can also stop the run. A big body who knows how to rush the passer. There's really nothing that Atkins can't do.

1. Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens

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    Agility

    8

    Combines the textbook mix of speed, flexibility and quickness needed along the defensive line.

    Bull Rush

    10

    Ngata has the strength to push and collapse the pocket against any offensive line.

    Speed Rush

    8

    Creates pressure well off the edge, but can also slip blockers and penetrate up the middle.

    Run Defense

    8

    Moving around and playing gap assignments, Ngata does a great job crowding a rush lane or setting the edge.

    Speed/Burst

    9

    Ngata may not run a great 40 time when compared to other positions, but his first three yards are some of the most violent in the NFL.

    Strength

    10

    Easily one of the five most powerful and impactful defensive linemen in the NFL.

    Shed Blockers

    10

    Most blockers bounce off Ngata, but the few who do tie him up don't hang around for long.

    Read & React

    10

    A smart player who can easily play multiple positions without losing sight of the ball or game plan.

    Tackle

    8

    Rarely misses tackles and has the agility to extend outside the tackle box.

    Health

    10

    Didn't miss any games in 2011.

    Overall

    91

    Defensive end, defensive tackle, 3-tech, 5-tech—it doesn't matter what you call Haloti Ngata, he's the best in the game. Ngata dominates the line of scrimmage, drawing attention from blockers in a way that few interior defensive linemen have ever seen.

Honorable Mentions

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    A list of those players close to making the final grade, but not quite close enough to be in the Top 64 defensive tackles.


    Remi Ayodele, Free Agent

    Overall: 48


    Shaun Smith, Tennessee Titans

    Overall: 47


    Tyler Brayton, Indianapolis Colts

    Overall: 46

    David Carter, Arizona Cardinals

    Overall: 45