When you think of 3-4 defenses, you think of the outside linebackers and you would think thats the most important position in the 3-4. Outside of any other position in the 3-4 the nose tackle position is the most important position in the 3-4. When you think of the nose tackle you typically think of the fattest players in the NFL, because they are to be a dominating nose tackle you have to of course be fat to plug of the holes and extremely strong to handle triple teams. Here is the top ten players in the NFL that know how to play good nose tackle in the NFL to watch in 2010.
Shaun Rogers might be the meanest guy in the NFL which probably makes play such good nose tackle. Rogers is also huge standing 6-4 and over 350 pounds he is heavier than any center in the NFL. Rogers is a 3-time Pro-Bowler, but injuries and legal issues are huge concerns. Rogers suffered a broken leg in 2009 and on April 1st, 2010 he got arrested for trying to carry a gun on a plane. A suspension seams likely for Rogers and I doubt he will will play the whole NFL season if none of that happened he would be higher on this list.
Despite the Ravens drafting Terrence Cody in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft they already had a good nose tackle in Kelly Gregg. After Kelly Gregg not playing in the 2008 season he came back in 2009 and put up staggering numbers for the Ravens' defense. Gregg made many tackles for a nose tackle with 63 and had 3.0 sacks which is good for a nose tackle. Kelly Gregg will get more rest in the 2010 season with newly added rookie Terrence Cody, but will still make a big impact.
The Baltimore Ravens now have two good nose tackles to use not just Kelly Gregg, but newly added Terrence "Mount" Cody. I cannot wait to watch Terrence Cody in 2010 he is going to be one most fun players to watch in the NFL just simply because he is huge! Cody is 6'5 and weighs 360 pounds and was 400 pounds at one point in his career. But, the main reason is that Cody can play some good football he is a big run stuffer which is the clear reason why Alabama had the number one rush defense in the NCAA.
Kris Jenkins would be higher on this list if he never had that serious knee injury. Jenkins has been one of the best nose tackles in the league this past decade going to 4 Pro-Bowls and being named an All-Pro 3 times. Before injuring his knee Jenkins was the staple of the Jets' 3-4 defense in 2008. With constant injuries and age concern I still think he is one of the best nose tackles in the league, but he won't be the same player he once was.
B.J. Raji was the top defensive tackle prospect in the 2009 NFL Draft and you could virtually put him anywhere in any defense. Raji started out playing defensive end in the 3-4, but wasn't that effective. Raji was then moved to nose tackle and did a tremendous job for the Pack. I really expect Raji to step up his game in 2010 with all the better nose tackles in the league aging Raji is right in their foot steps.
Pat Williams Pro-Bowl days are over, but he is still one of the premier nose tackles in the league. Despite the Vikings running a 4-3 defense Pat Williams plays the nose tackle role which helps Kevin Williams and Jared Allen succeed. With Pat Williams likely playing his last season and being very old he can still play good football in the NFL. I don't expect any glory out of Pat Williams in 2010, but I do expect a good run defense.
With all the nose tackles in the NFL Aubrayo Franklin is probably the most underrated out of all of them. Franklin is small for a nose tackle only standing 6'1 and weighing 315 pounds, but plays huge. Franklin started all 16 games for the 49ers in 2009 and is arguably the secret for the success of defensive end Justin Smith and linebacker Patrick Willis. Aubrayo Franklin deserves much more credit than he gets.
Casey Hampton in my opinion is the nastiest player in the NFL, he's strong, he's big, he's ugly, and he can play football. Hampton rarely makes big plays, but he clogs up holes that make it nearly impossible to run against. Hampton had probably his best season in 2009 getting a career high 43 tackles and a career high 2.5 sacks. Hampton deserves all the credit he receives getting voted to the Pro-Bowl 5 times and he is a winner being on two Super Bowl teams.
With a Patriots defense that doesn't have an identity at all Vince Wilfork might as well be the front man. Wilfork is arguably the best defensive player outside of Jerod Mayo on the Patriots. With departures of Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green, Vince Wilfork may be a one man show on the defensive line. Like Casey Hampton Wilfork is extremely nasty having all the tools you would want a nose tackle to have. Wilfork has 2 Pro-Bowls under his belt and is in the prime of his career, I expect a few more if not I expect him playing like one.
Out of all the premier nose tackles in the NFL Jay Ratliff is surprisingly the leanest and the best of them all. Ratliff is only 300 pounds which is pretty small for a nose tackle, when you look at a nose tackle you usually see them range in between 320 to 370 pound range. Ratliff is crazy to watch he had a staggering 6.0 sacks in 2009 which is mind blowing for a nose tackle and even really good for a normal defensive tackle. There is no doubt in my mind that Jay Ratliff is the best nose tackle in the NFL.