Being a top five player at any position in the NFL is an incredibly impressive achievement. There is a reason why many people joke that the NFL stands for "Not For Long," as the shelf life of individual or team success can be incredibly short. Football is a hard, unforgiving, violent sport that has little sympathy for the weak or hurt.
The following is a list of the top five defensive players who play a position in the front seven of a 4-3 scheme.
This is not about potential for seasons afterward but only the 2010/2011 NFL season. For each position, I have also included an “Injury Replacement Player,” just in case a top five player suffers a serious injury.
Being a top five player at a position requires more than talent; it also requires durability, leadership, being a good teammate, and performing well in the clutch. To even be considered for this list, a player's health for the upcoming season must be without question.
As a bonus, I have included the top five safeties and cornerbacks, regardless of scheme.