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.