I'm counting down the top 10 players in the AFC North, one per day, as we head into the 2012 NFL season. These rankings are based on 2011 performance only and are not projections of these players' 2012 success. In a division this good, ranking just the top 10 isn't easy.
It shouldn't come to any surprise to anyone that Baltimore Ravens hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is in the top two of this list.
As one of the true hybrid players on defense in the NFL, he logged 70 tackles, 14 sacks, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles last season, enough to earn the league's Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Yes, Suggs is going to miss most of, if not all of the upcoming season while he recovers from a torn Achilles' tendon and the subsequent surgery. It's a huge blow to a Ravens defense that, while rife with talent, has no other player who is as effectively versatile as Suggs.
The AFC North is well-known for producing high-caliber defensive players; the Ravens alone have some of the best defenders to play the game in the past 10 or more years. But Suggs' performance in 2011 was the most dominating of any player on that side of the ball in the entire division.
Simply put, Suggs is easily the AFC North's top defender and deserves to be the penultimate player on this Top 10 list.
No. 4: Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 6: LaMarr Woodley, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 9: D'Qwell Jackson, LB, Cleveland Browns