The offseason is upon us. Now, all NFL fans can do is wait. Wait until their team makes a big splash in the draft or free agency. Wait for opening day kickoff, 2009.
With many offseason stories floating around, one has intrigued me the most. Albert Haynesworth, a free agent, is expected to become the highest DT in NFL history.
With that said, I started questioning, “Who really is the best DT?” Well, without further ado, here are my top 10 DT’s in the NFL today.
Kris Jenkins (New York Jets) 2008 Stats: 50 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 passes deflected
He’s had some injury problems, but is still a solid player. Expect him to be better in his second season with a new team.
2009 Prediction: 55 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 FF
John Henderson (Jacksonville Jaguars) 2008 Stats: 44 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 passes deflected
He’s not the same without Marcus Stroud next to him. He’ll be 31 next season. You should expect similar numbers in 2009.
2009 Prediction: 45 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF
2008 Stats: 55 tackles, 4.5 sacks
He’s widely overlooked because he plays for none other than the Oakland Raiders. Their offense is terrible and their defense matches their play, but without this guy, they wouldn’t have stood a chance at winning.
He does a descent job of getting to the QB and is the lone run stuffer on the Raiders defense. Put him on the a descent team and he will be recognized. He’ll just keep getting better and will reach his prime when he leaves the Raiders.
2009 Prediction: 63 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 FF
2008 Stats: 45 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 7 passes defended
He battled suspensions and injuries in his final two years with the Jaguars, but rebounded with a descent year in 2008 with his new team. The Bills only gave up a third and a fifth-round draft pick to acquire Stroud, and he was definitely worth it.
Before his trade, he and John Henderson had formed one of the best DT tandems in the NFL. Opposing offenses shook at the thought of facing these two monsters.
He’s already 30, but still has many good years left. Don’t expect his tackle numbers to improve much, but his sack numbers certainly will in 2009.
2009 Prediction: 42 tackles, 5.5 sacks
2008 Stats: 55 tackles, 1 sack, 5 passes defended, 2 interceptions
Very quietly, Ngata has established himself as a very promising DT. Ravens fans love him for his jolly smile and strong work ethic. He’s technically listed as a NT due to the 3-4 the Ravens run, but he is still referred to as a DT. His sack numbers aren’t at all impressive.
This is because he drops back into pass coverage more than any other DT in the NFL. His Ravens also ranked third in rushing defense last season. His interceptions were deflected passes, but they are still interceptions. Over his career, his sack numbers will definitely improve.
2009 Prediction: 47 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF
2008 Stats: 51 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 5 passes defended
Even though he’s relatively new to the NFL scene, Ratliff is quickly developing into one of the premier pass rushing defensive tackles. He’s got slightly above average strength, but this guy is quick.
He exploded onto the Cowboys scene, but has shadowed by the drama that is the Dallas Cowboys. Until Owens leaves, Ratliff won’t get the attention he deserves. He’s gotten better every year, a LOT better. He has all the tools to become one of the best in the league.
I hope that when the spotlight does reach him, he performs and outshines the rest of his Cowboy drama buddies.
2009 Prediction: 73 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 FF
2008 Stats: 37 tackles, 5 sacks
Some people may argue that he needs to be inside the top five. I would love to put him there, but something is missing. He doesn’t find the ball carrier enough to make the big play.
He lacks the awareness required to break into the top five DT. He is one heck of a pass rusher, but he doesn’t stop the run as well. He’ll be going into his 6th season already, and he’s only 25 (he turns 26 in April).
His best years of football are still ahead.
There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a Hall of Famer in the future. As long as he remains in Chicago surrounded by the cast he has, he should be a lock. He battled a few injuries here and there, so you can expect his stats to be a little better next season.
2009 Prediction: 41 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 2 FF
5) Pat Williams (Minnesota Vikings) 2008 Stats: 44 tackles, 1 sack, 3 passes deflected
We hear the same things year after year with this guy. He doesn’t get to the QB. Everyone knows that, but he makes up for that with a tremendous ability to stop the run.
His Vikings have allowed the fewest yards three years in a row, a feat never before accomplished.
He made the Pro Bowl for the third year in a row. Without Williams in the lineup, the Vikings gave up over 107 yards rushing per game. With him though, they help opponents to under 70 yards per game.
That proves the value of this guy. He’s getting up there in age, 37 and doesn’t have too many years left in him.
2009 Prediction: 42 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF
2008 Stats: 49 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 passes deflected, 1 fumble forced
Unless you were an Arizona Cardinal fan before the start of the 2008 season, you had never heard of him before. He was under the radar despite a solid nine sacks in 2007.
He exploded onto the NFL scene when he tied an NFL Super Bowl record by getting three sacks. It’s sad that it took a Super Bowl appearance for the media to recognize this guy.
He was a starter from day one in a Cardinals jersey and the coaches praised his ability. He’s been very healthy over his five year career, never missing a game. Another very young DT who will be a fantasy favorite DT in 2009.
2009 Prediction: 52 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 FF
2008 Stats: 76 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 passes deflected
This guy can flat out play. He’s been in the news lately for his desire to be released. The Browns gave up a solid corner in Bodden and 3rd round draft pick to get this guy, and he did not disappoint, earning a trip to the 2009 Pro Bowl.
It sounds weird, but the biggest mistake this guy made was leaving the Detroit Lions.
He could have easily become a legend, but faded away into the darkness. Cleveland fans don’t appreciate the talent that they have in this guy.
As a huge Vikings fan, I’m so happy we don’t have to play against this guy twice every season.
He and Cory Redding could have become a very formidable DT tandem, but instead, he found a place among one of the biggest disappoints of the season in the form of the Cleveland Browns.
I hope he get released and goes to a team that appreciates talent.
2009 Prediction: 62 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 FF
2008 Stats: 51 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 passes deflected
Whoever acquires this guy will truly get a substantial reward (Lions! HAHA). He may not be the fastest DT in the game, but he is one of the most powerful. Teams strategize against Haynesworth more than any other DT.
His massive frame, 6’6’’ 320 pounds, gives him an advantage against nearly every OL. He gets off the ball even faster than most OL he faces. Until the 2007 season, he wasn’t considered a pass rushing DT.
That was all changed when he recorded six sacks and another 8.5 in 2008.
He led the Titans defense in rank sixth in rushing defense and seventh in total yards. His only flaw is his inability to stay healthy for 16 games, but he is still very likely to become the highest paid DT, maybe player, in NFL history.
He will always be remembered as the guy that stomped on Andre Gurode’s face that resulted in an immediate ejection from the game, an NFL suspension, and a hefty fine.
2009 Prediction: 55 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT, 14 games played
2008 Stats: 60 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 4 passes deflected
I’m sure I’ll get a ton of hate comments about this one. I’m sure many of you think Haynesworth deserves the number one spot. The fact is, Williams is still better.
Not only does he have pass rushing skills not seen by a DT for many years, but he can stop the run. He and Pat Williams have formed arguably the best DT tandem in NFL history, leading the Vikings in rushing defense three years running. His 42.5 sacks in six years are very impressive.
One thing he can do that Haynesworth can’t is stay healthy.
Williams is far more dependable. Williams is also one of the fastest DT in the game. His rare combination of size, speed, and strength are the envy of every DT today.
2009 Prediction: 63 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 FF