Seattle Seahawks: 10 Best Defensive Players of All Time

Andrew EideCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2011

Seattle Seahawks: 10 Best Defensive Players of All Time

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    As long as there has been football one thing has remained true: Defense wins championships. 

    So far the Seattle Seahawks have yet to taste a Super Bowl championship; however, they still have boasted some quality defensive players during their history.

    Seattle's crowds have always been loud, from today's Qwest gatherings to the old days in the Kingdome, and that crowd noise has always aided the defense in attacking opposing offenses who can barely hear themselves think.

    These are the 10 best players to fire up the Seahawks 12th Man.

10. Joe Nash

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    If you look up the definition of a nose tackle in the dictionary there just may be a picture of Joe Nash.  Nash was on the field for the Seahawks from 1982 through 1996 and the Seahawks are the only team he played for.

    Nash was tough and strong and could be counted on to take up space on the defensive line.  He did the dirty work for the Seahawks defense and was rewarded in 1984 with his only Pro Bowl trip. 

    Joe Nash saw a lot of up and downs with Seattle.  He was a mainstay for the successful teams in the '80s and unfortunately stuck around to see the team sink to the bottom in the '90s.

    Throughout it all, Joe Nash was there, in a four-point stance, taking on offensive linemen and playing with pride.

9. Marcus Trufant

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    In 2003 the Seahawks drafted local product Marcus Trufant with the 11th pick overall.  Growing up in Tacoma and playing for Washington State made him an instant crowd favorite and chants of "Truuuuuuu" still ring out in Qwest Field after each play.

    Ever since his arrival he's been penciled into the lineup at corner for the Seahawks.  Trufant has given the Seahawks a steady and dependable player, peaking in 2007 when he made his only Pro Bowl appearance. He has been in the upper echelon of cover corners who is also an underrated tackler when supporting the run.

    Trufant has struggled the past couple of years with injuries but his 20 career interceptions have been the tops for the Seahawks.

8. Lofa Tatupu

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    The Seahawks drafted Tatupu in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft and the post-draft report cards labeled the pick as a reach. 

    Despite being a star at USC he was supposed to be too small and too slow to play in the NFL. Nobody told Tatupu that, as he went out that year and led the Seahawks defense during their Super Bowl run.

    He was selected to the Pro Bowl that year as a rookie and followed that up with two more consecutive trips to Hawaii.  One of the most popular players in Seahawks history, his No. 51 jersey can been seen filling up the stands at Qwest.

    While perhaps undersized for a middle linebacker, Tatupu makes up for any shortcomings with an intense and amazing work ethic. He is known for studying film and knows every intricate detail of the Seahawks defense.

    Tatupu is the Seahawks' leader on defense and led them in tackles his first three years in the league.  Like Trufant he has struggled with injuries that past two years but is still one of the faces of the franchise.

7. Chad Brown

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    When the Seahawks signed Pittsburgh's Chad Brown before the 1997 season it made a splash. Brown was already a Pro Bowler and it showed that new owner Paul Allen was going to do what he could to bring the Seahawks out of the hole they had been in for most of the '90s.

    Brown continued to make the Pro Bowl as a Seahawk, heading to Hawaii two more times.  He gave the Seahawks experience and speed on the edge and proved to be a versatile player who could make plays against the run as well.

    When he arrived in Seattle, the Seahawks were a non-entity on the national scene, and when he left they had begun to dominate the NFC West. 

    An avid collector of snakes off the field, he proved to be slippery on it, collecting 48 sacks and averaging 73 tackles a year in Seattle.

6. Eugene Robinson

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    Long before Eugene Robinson became known for his pre-Super Bowl indiscretions, he was leading the Seahawks defense for 10 years.  Robinson came to Seattle as a free agent undrafted player out of Colgate in 1985 and was one of the lone bright spots for the Seahawks in the early '90s.

    He was a great tackler and was rarely out of position in the passing game.  Robinson was the quarterback for the Seahawks defense and could be an imposing figure for receivers venturing into his neighborhood.

    Robinson ended his Seahawk career with two Pro Bowl appearances and an impressive 42 interceptions, and was the Seahawks' all-time leading tackler. The Seahawks were faced with some tough salary cap issues and traded Robinson to Green Bay for Matt Labounty in 1996.

    He went on to play for Atlanta and Carolina after the Packers.

5. Michael Sinclair

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    It's not often that a sixth-round pick out of a small school goes on to be one of a franchise's top defensive players, but that's exactly what happened with Michael Sinclair.  Not only is he one of the best players Seattle has ever had, he might also be one of the best draft picks they've made.

    Sinclair would have been a household name if he played in a big market, but stuck in Seattle on bad teams he was an unknown stalwart for the Seahawks between 1991 and 2001.

    Sinclair was simply a pass rush specialist.  He was big, strong and quick off the ball and regularly set up shop in the opponent's backfield.

    He ended his Seattle career with 73.5 sacks, including an NFL-best 16.5 sacks in 1998, and three Pro Bowl trips.  No. 70 was a fan favorite in Seattle and one of the Seahawks' top 10 defensive players.

4. Dave Brown

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    Usually, when established teams leave players available for expansion drafts, they are giving away bench warmers that don't amount to much.  The Seahawks found a rare gem when they selected Dave Brown from Pittsburgh in the 1976 expansion draft.

    Brown turned into one of the Seahawks' best players and they got a decade of great play out of him.  He was a blanket of a cover corner, before "cover corner" was a catch phrase, and a ball hawk who would snatch any errant pass that came his way.

    Brown was a leader for the 1983 and 1984 Seahawks who finally had tasted success and made the playoffs.  For a struggling new franchise he was in many ways their heart and soul.

    Dave Brown picked off 50 passes for the Seahawks, which is still a franchise record, he made the Pro Bowl in 1984, and has been inducted into the Seahawks ring of honor at Qwest Field.

    One memorable Sunday in 1984 he tied an NFL record by returning two interceptions for touchdowns against Kansas City in the Kingdome.

    After his playing days were done, Brown returned to the Seahawks and coached their defensive backs from 1992 through 1998.

3. Jacob Green

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    In the 1980 NFL Draft the Seahawks selected Texas A&M star defensive end Jacob Green with the 10th pick overall.  Green ended his career 97.5 sacks later as one of the best pass rushers in NFL history.

    Those 97.5 sacks would have been higher if the NFL had been counting sacks as a statistic early in his career.  Some estimates would have put him around 108 sacks in total.  Despite that, his 97.5 were good enough to be the third-highest total at the time he retired.

    Green was a mainstay for the Seahawks from 1980 through 1992 and wreaked havoc on AFC West opponents.  Opposing offensive coordinators had to be aware of where Green was on every play as he could ruin a quarterback's day if enough attention wasn't given to him.

    Green ended up in two Pro Bowls while a Seahawk and has been inducted into Seattle's ring of honor.

2. Cortez Kennedy

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    Simply known as the Tez, Kennedy is easily one of the best athletes to play any sport in Seattle.  The Seahawks drafted Kennedy third overall in the 1990 draft in order to get the "impact player" coach Chuck Knox was after.

    Knox got that and more as the Tez went on to become a dominant player until he retired in 2000.  Unfortunately for Kennedy, he was stuck playing for some terrible Seahawk teams and didn't get the national attention he deserved.

    His accomplishments are staggering: He made the Pro Bowl eight times, was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 (on a 2-14 team no less), was named to the NFL 1990's All-Decade Team, is in the Seahawks ring of honor and is an NFL Hall of Fame finalist.

    Kennedy will undoubtedly get into the Hall of Fame, whether it's this year or next, and there will be a throng of No. 96 jerseys in attendance when it happens.

    The Tez was a fan favorite and the only reason to watch Seahawks football during the '90s.  Despite only making one playoff appearance, Kennedy played hard each week and never complained or sought a way out of Seattle.  For that alone he is beloved in Seattle.

1. Kenny Easley

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    In 1984 a Seattle television station featured a piece on local celebrities, asking them a series of personal questions including what in life they were afraid of.  When they asked that question to Seahawks safety Kenny Easley, he looked in the camera and without flinching answered "nothing."

    That was the way Easley played the game, without fear.  A devastating hitter, he would routinely throw his entire body into a hit.

    He first displayed his talents at UCLA and was selected with the fourth overall pick of the 1981 NFL Draft.  He roamed the Kingdome for Seattle the next six seasons and had his career cut short due to kidney failures.

    Easley's toughness was on display during a game in Denver when after suffering a mild concussion he talked his way into allowing the coaching staff to let him fill in for Seattle's injured punt returner.  Easley did that because the team needed it.

    There is little doubt that if Easley had been able to stay healthy he would have had the kind of career that usually ends up in Ohio.

    While in Seattle he was named 1981 AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year, NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1984, was a five-time Pro Bowler and was enshrined in the Seahawks ring of honor.