With half of the NFL employing some variation of the 3-4 defense a defender has to be incredible to be regarded as a top five player at their position.
Given that more 3-4 teams sprout up every year, more teams than ever are drafting specifically for the 3-4, which means some readers may be surprised at the defensive mainstays who have been left off this list in favor of younger players.
This is a list of the top five defensive players who play a position in the front seven of a 3-4 scheme. This is not about potential for seasons afterward but only the upcoming NFL season.
To even be considered for this list, a player's health for the upcoming season must be without question. I have also included an “Injury Replacement Player," just in case a top five player suffers a serious injury before the season starts.