Player Profiling: NFL Defensive Tackle Rankings

Thom Cunningham@ThomBhombCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2009

INNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 24:  Kevin Williams #93 of the Minnesota Vikings lines up on the field during the game with the Chicago Bears September on  24, 2006 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Bears won 19-16. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Ranking the best overall defensive tackles the league has to offer.

You know the routine, so let's get into it.


1. Kevin Williams (MIN)

Can you believe this player was booed by Minnesota fans when he was drafted with the 17th pick?

Williams has incredible power and acceleration that allows him to break off of any block thrown his way. His ability to stop the run, along with his consistent pressure, forces almost every team to double this guy.

If they don't, then their quarterback is in for a long day. His size deceives his overall ability to attack offenses in so many ways (he has fundamentally perfected the position).

Williams' success is backed up with playmakers like Pat Williams and Jared Allen, but his overall game has become one of the most impressive in any young player.

I am so impressed with his power, explosiveness, and ability to blow up plays.

His youth combined with his overall football skill is very rare to find in players, and his leadership role has become noticed.


2. Albert Haynesworth (WAS)

Haynesworth is one of the biggest bodied tackles with amazing strength. He can move blockers anywhere he wants and explode into the backfield at will. He seems to come up with big plays at the line of scrimmage, which helps everyone else on defense fall into place nicely.

With that said, he has yet to play an entire season healthy and left a great situation in Tennessee for the moolah. Nothing against Washington, but I believe right now Tennessee is an overall better organization for preparing players to the best of their abilities to win an NFL Championship.

I just feel that Tennessee is a better team for talents to become more mature and focused toward the true success of football. I am not taking anything away from Haynesworth's game (I have him ranked two!), but I would feel more confident in his level of consistency, reliability, and determination if he still played for Jeff Fisher.

Although the big numbers in Haynesworth's stats and paycheck might look nice, he needs to prove he can take on a much more serious and reliable role in Washington for an entire season.

His productivity the past two years has been remarkable, but I am just not completely sold on him being much more productive than his time in Tennessee (that doesn't mean he won't play well, just not the absolute proven at the position).


3. Kris Jenkins (NYJ)

Jenkins has the best raw strength I have seen. He can move an entire pocket by himself, along with the opponents trying to block him. He is a perfect size and skill for the 3-4 defense, and Ryan should help bring out the absolute best in him (which could elevate his game to a Defensive Player of the Year Award).

His knowledge is some of the best, and he brings a hard hitting, no-stopping aggression to the line. He can get off the ball extremely well, and I wouldn't argue if you ranked him above Haynesworth or even the No. 1 spot.


4. Casey Hampton (PIT)

Hampton is a small tackle from his height, but a huge one from his weight. Hampton has underrated strength and amazing awareness. He has a nose for sniffing out any running play up the middle and does a good job of setting the outside guys up to make a play.

He can explode through a majority of blockers in the league, and has the speed to destroy a play if he can beat guys with just one move. He has become a reliable player for the Steeler franchise and has been consistently productive.

A hard working, hard playing player with as much talent and skill as any tackle makes Hampton an often overlooked, but effective player.


5. Pat Williams (MIN)

This is the biggest defensive lineman in the league. Williams will literally eat anyone who comes into the gap he is assigned. His strength and knowledge disrupts many offensive plays. He can knock over more than one lineman at a time while trying to make a play toward the ball carrier.

His speed and acceleration are not as strong as his counterpart Kevin, but his power, strength, size, and IQ make him one of the biggest playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.


6. John Henderson (JAC)

To me, Henderson is the scariest tackle today. He busts his head and gets others to hit him in the face to get pumped before games. His strength and pure athletic power make him one of the most dangerous players already.

His attitude and leadership displayed every week put him over the top as one of the absolute best. He is one of the biggest, baddest dudes to play tackle, and has the big play ability that can spark any defense.

In Trillville terms, Henderson is the biggest head bussa in the league.


7. Tommie Harris (CHI)

Harris was arguably the best tackle in the league two to three years ago. Since then, Harris has struggled with injuries, but has not lost a step in his game when he does play.

Again, I think the Cutler deal was bigger than most people realize. The move should bring a higher level of confidence and desire to work harder for everyone on the Bear roster.

I think Harris' proven talent, and the fact that he has not lost any piece to his game, can make him a top tackle this year. He will need to stay on the field more consistently, but overall, his work ethic and determination to succeed should be higher.

That could bring a more consistently productive season for him and the entire team.


8. Haloti Ngata (BAL)

He has the best power to speed ratio at the position today. His reaction to plays is so quick compared to most tackles today. He is extremely explosive coming out of his stance and can beat blockers in various different ways.

His pursuit skills are some of the best at the position, and he has a drive to get the job done. His knowledge has developed faster than I expected, and has the youth and ability to become a long-term and reliable player for any defense (let alone the Raven's).


9. Jay Ratliff (DAL)

Ratliff is an underrated player with tons of explosiveness and aggression. He seems to make almost every play in the backfield and never seems bothered by anyone trying to block him.

His determination when executing during a play seems unreal. He has the confidence and mindset to make a play every time he's on the field, and usually does. Ratliff's overall skill is still improving, which is scary if you think how effective he was last year.

I thought Ware's presence was the main reason for Ratliff's early success, but as the season went on, Ratliff's level of consistency, productivity, and intelligence improved with his pure talent.

He is setup perfectly to become a top playmaker in the league for years to come.


10. Vince Wilfork (NE)

Wilfork has some of the best one-on-one ability in the game. He has great technique and fundamentals along with very impressive power. He has the right to hold out for a new contract, even though New England is unlikely to give it to him.

Despite contract issues, Wilfork is the type of player who will be focused and ready to play. He has a nose for the football and can fill a gap by filling it himself or moving others.

Wilfork's overall athletic talent at the position, along with his reliable display of dominance, makes him the perfect player (physically and mentally) for the New England organization and any 3-4 defense.


11. Marcus Stroud (BUF)

Stroud is just as powerful and aggressive as any tackle in the league. His pure power, along with his underrated speed and elusiveness, gives opposing blockers a different style to guard than their used to.

His overall athletic ability is some of the best at the position, and he has proven playmaking capability to be a reliable leader on the Buffalo defense.


12. Darnell Dockett (ARI)

Dockett is one of the more athletic tackles in the game. He has a strong-driven character that brings a higher level of confidence and play from his teammates. Dockett took over extremely well from a leadership stand point.

He came into his own as an overall dominant player toward the end of the season. Although he definitely showed a lot of potential and intensity, his consistency lacked early in the year.

Dockett's performance toward the end of the year can definitely pick back up in '09, but he needs to deliver the same style of leadership and reliability through next year if he wants to become a definite proven player at his position.


13. Jamal Williams (SD)

Williams is a reliable veteran who has more on his resume than people realize. His size and consistency to produce solid plays has not gone away. He can still rush through the middle of an offense more times than none, and has the attitude to make others better.

His speed and strength have lacked the past two years, but his overall work ethic and productivity level is still some of the best. His presence and skill still make him a big playmaker, just not as consistent as we were once used to seeing.


14. Shaun Rogers (CLE)

I haven't figured out if Rogers just doesn't care about anyone but himself, or if he doesn't care about anything period. His size and athletic ability make him a threat to many blockers already.

Although his overall talent and big play ability is very active, his work ethic and attitude toward the game seem lack luster at best. He is very lazy more times than none and only seems to play when he wants to.

He has proven he cannot be taken as a serious leader for any defense, but still has the skill set to be a dominant player. Rogers has underachieved for a majority of his career, but that doesn't come from his athletic talent.

It comes from his care-free attitude toward every aspect of the game. Maybe going to a successful franchise can turn Rogers into a seriously great player, but again, that shouldn't take away from his pure talent.


15. Sedrick Ellis (NO)

Ellis is one of the underrated tackles with a great character and presence. He is a hard worker who develops consistent plays for the Saints' d-line. Ellis has become a fundamentally sound player with improving mechanics and power.

His speed is pretty impressive to say the least, and his ability to create turnovers seems overlooked. Ellis is a low-key player for the Saints' defense in the public's eye, but a huge piece to their success from time to time.

He is still a young player, which is why I don't think he can lead a defense right now. He has the players around him to elevate his intelligence and possible reliability in the future.

His maturity (along with many Saint defenders) could use improvement.


16. Ryan Pickett (GB)

Pickett is another underrated player with tons of strength and knowledge. His ability to come off the ball surprises many and his tackling skills are very underrated.

I like Pickett's understanding of where to be in order to make the best play for his defense. His size makes him an easy target to block on stretch plays, but his overall awareness and power make up for that.

Pickett is a reliable player on the inside game, but his containment and acceleration going lateral is a weakness shown many times.


17. Brodrick Bunkley (PHI)

He has come into his own as one of the strongest tackles. His strength is through the roof, along with his determination to break blocks and make plays. His big play ability comes and goes, but has the power and quickness to change directions and chase down many ball carriers.

His toughness is one of the best and has a head hunting mentality to help him develop into a complete player. I'm not sure he will (because I think he's played up to his prime for the most part), but he still has a lot of time and talent to prove me wrong.


18. Fred Robbins (NYG)

Robbins' strength and ability to run over guys scares me a lot. He is the most underrated tackle in the game with the maturity and mechanics to be one of the best. His speed coming off the ball needs work, along with his recovery ability.

Overall, Robbins' power and size make him solid, but his maturity and reliability make him a consistently productive player in the eyes of coaches more so than fans or the media.

Not a flashy player with speed, but he has the power and mentality you look for in championship players.


19. Amboi Okoye (HOU)

An undersized young talent with a great work ethic and character. His strength may deceive many, and his under-the-radar skill to disrupt backfields makes him an overlooked but dangerous player.

I would like to see Okoye take a bigger role, but he is still developing and perhaps time might be his best friend. Okoye's overall production has been on schedule if you ask me, but I think he has only a year or two to go before he becomes a consistent playmaker.


20. Brandon Mebane (SEA)

Mebane is the backbone of the Seattle line. He is often overlooked, which gives him an advantage. He is a threat to make sacks anytime he beats a blocker. His awareness and strength make him a consistent player who has become reliable as a role player.

I believe his overall talent and maturity will develop him into one of the more successful players down the road. Right now, he is one of the undervalued role players who can make big plays when needed.


21. Darryl Tapp (SEA)

Tapp is a great pas rusher with underrated abilities to create turnovers. He can force fumbles extremely well, and is always disruptive even when he is not close to the ball. He can penetrate a backfield very fast and wraps up opponents with great mechanics.

I love Tapp's overall football skill, and it shouldn't be long before he is taken as a serious household name. Tapp's strength, quickness, and attitude make me love him. He will need to develop a more consistent style of aggression week in and week out if he wants to produce on a top-notch level, which I think he will.


22. Rocky Bernard (NYG)

His career from an overall stand point has been rocky to say the least. When Bernard plays well, he performs that way the entire season (which I like). Bernard is a very inconsistent player, though, when it comes to staying as reliable as he was the year before.

Seattle fans know better than I do as to why Bernard's success came and went, but he has the athletic power and skill to become a key role player for the Giant defense. Despite his past, Bernard is more than capable of producing big plays in certain situations for a defense.

The fact that he is now with an organization that will favor his success makes me confident in his ability to improve. I think he will improve the Giant team rather than bring his game back to prime level.


23. Adam Carriker (STL)

His career up to this point has been on schedule in terms of development. His aggression is one of the best, and he has big play capability that comes and goes. Carriker will be entering a season where his fundamentals and overall skill should be close to polished.

He was a former defensive end who transferred to the tackle position, so he might have underrated speed.  I just haven't seen NFL speed in his game.

Overall, he is a reliable player in the making who needs to show more of a presence this year than his prior years. He seems like a Spagnuolo type of player. A hard worker with tons of athletic skill and potential.

I think we will see a more mature and overall developed payer in Carriker this year or next.


24. Tommy Kelly (OAK)

Kelly's reliability needs to be proven in my mind. He has the size and skill to consistently make big plays. He is surrounded by athleticism in the front seven, and has had every advantage most players would love to have. He has teammates that produce for the most part, a size and talent to dominate, and an organization who has his back as of right now.

Kelly has been dodging bullets and perhaps his past has saved him from being cut by now. He better produce like myself and everyone else knows he is capable of, otherwise I don't see any reason why Oakland should keep paying him.


25. Glenn Dorsey (KC)

He is still transitioning over to the NFL game. His injuries come to concern to many, but it shouldn't be his most noticeable weakness. Dorsey seemed out of place and lost more times than none.

His pure power and determination are some of the best, but his overall game was very disappointing to say the least. His fundamentals were not terrible, but weren't great either.

I like the switch Kansas City is making by going to the 3-4. I think it will take pressure off of Dorsey and allow him to play his type of game: one-on-one, power vs. power.


26. Corneilus Griffin (WAS)

Griffin might be splitting PT with Anthony Montgomery. Griffin is coming toward the end of his career, while the young Montgomery seems to be developing quickly. He is a reliable veteran who knows what to do in certain situations.

He still has the ability to make plays in the backfield form time to time. His speed and skills have progressively disappeared, but his presence and strength are still very much there.

I like Griffin as a tough, blue-collar player that might not see the field as much as he's used to.


27. Peria Jerry (ATL)

Jerry has some of the best aggressiveness I've seen from many colleges players. He will be taking over as a starter, and he has the talent around (despite what many might think) to lead his career and team in the right direction.

He explodes off of the ball extremely quickly and aggressively. He always keeps his feet moving and uses all of his strength (legs, arms, and body) to drive through blocks.


28. Ryan Sims (TB)

In the very few games Sims started in, he dominated. He has the potential to become a reliable playmaker with the consistency of producing on all aspects of the game.

His size and explosiveness combined are hard to find in many players today. His overall game has been overlooked for the most part, but he can make big plays on a consistent level given more PT.


29. Jason Ferguson (MIA)

Here is a big body defender with a much more developed game from an overall stand point. Ferguson's power and knowledge make him a threat as well as his explosiveness (which many successful tackles seem to have).

Ferguson was an overlooked player on the Miami defense. He was a big part in the Dolphins' success last year, but needs to prove he can play at that same level of consistency and productivity to sustain a secure role in the long run for this or any ball club.


30. Daimone Lewis (CAR)

An overall solid and proven role player, who can fill into holes nicely and make solid plays from time to time.


31. Terrell Sands (OAK) 

One of the bigger tackles in size and power. He needs more PT and experience to become a good player.

His athletic talent and size already give him a pretty nice head start.


32. Anthony Montgomery (WAS) 

Another big tackle with tons of size and power. He can eat through the inside of many lines and will make a play in the backfield more times than none.

His PT might be limited due to the arrival of Haynesworth.


33. Jason Jones (TEN) 

He will be replacing Haynesworth and produced nicely when giving him a break. He is a hard working player with a determined mindset.


34. Chartric Darby (DET) 

He has been a reliable role payer his entire career, but now has the opportunity to start over and re-vamp his style for the better.


35. Jay Alford (NYG) 

Alford has some of the best athleticism combined with size. He produces every time he plays, only problem is the amount of PT he gets (seems to be the case for a lot of these lower ranked guys).


36. Gerard Warren (OAK) 

Has underachieved in his career more than anything. A good role player at best with little to no more reliability.

I consider him a huge disappointment so far in his career.


37. Jonathan Babineaux (ATL) 

He is on the verge of having a breakout year. His knowledge has improved vastly along with his consistency of making key plays.

He just signed a five year deal, so his confidence should be high also.


38. BJ Raji (GB)

I like the talent and potential shown by Raji, but if Green Bay wants a long-term player to help them switch to the 3-4, I think they had better options in free agency and the draft than B.J. Raji.

He would probably have more success slowly filling into a 4-3 defense (which also takes pressure off of him).


39. Chris Hovan (TB) 

Another reliable playmaker that understands the game inside and out. His overall talent has faded, but his work ethic and capability still can be used to the benefit for some ball clubs (but not many).


40. Travis Williams HOU

41. Barry Coefield NYG

42. Dewayne Robertson DEN

43. Alan Branch ARI

44. Tank Johnson CIN

45. Evander Hood PIT



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