NFL: Ranking the 10 Best Defensive Tackles
Four positions down (quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive end), now it's on to the defensive tackles.
Defensive tackles don't spend much time in the spot light (one exception). They are very under appreciated, but are an extremely important part of a good defense. Their job is to disrupt the line of scrimmage, shutdown the run and sometimes even rush the passer.
Now on to the leagues top defensive tackles.
Tomorrow I'm counting down the 10 best cornerbacks in the NFL.
10. Casey Hampton
Casey Hampton has been one of Pittsburgh's most consistent defensive players over the past decade. Since his rookie season in 2001, he has started in 136 games.
Hampton hasn't just been another role player for the Steelers, he's been one of their premier players of the past 10 years. In the last eight seasons he has made five Pro Bowls and has been on three Super Bowl teams (two victories, one loss).
Hampton can rush the quarterback when needed, but his biggest strength is stopping the run. Last season the Steelers were number one in rush defense, they allowed only 62.8 yards per game (27.3 yards per game less then the next best).
9. Kyle Williams
Kyle Williams might be the least recognizable name on here, but it has nothing to do with a lack of talent.
At 6'1" he's a rather short defensive tackle and because of this he uses leverage to control the line of scrimmage. He's been a regular starter with the Bills since his rookie season in 2006. Last season was his best yet, as he had 5.5 sacks, 77 tackles and made the first Pro Bowl of his career.
8. Richard Seymour
Seymour is one of the veterans of this list with 10 seasons already under his belt.
From 2002 through 2006 Seymour made five Pro Bowls and was selected first team All-Pro on three occasions. He missed the Pro Bowl the next two years in New England and before the 2009 season he was traded to the Oakland Raiders.
He revived his career last season after being switched from defensive end to tackle. He made his first Pro Bowl since 2006 and showed he's still a force on defense, playing and starting in 13 games, having 5.5 sacks and 48 tackles.
7. Darnell Dockett
His first five seasons he played primarily tackle, but has moved to end the past two seasons. He was voted to the Pro Bowl last season as an interior lineman. You could have put him on either list, but I decided to rank him as a defensive tackle.
Docket has made the Pro Bowl three times in the past four seasons. In that span he has totaled 25 sacks and 210 tackles. Last season he had five sacks and 52 tackles on his way to the Pro Bowl.
6. B.J. Raji
At 25 years old, B.J. Raji is one of the younger players on this list.
In his first season (2009) he played in 14 games, but only started one. Last season he became Green Bay's starting nose tackle. He played and started in all 16 games, recording 6.5 sacks and 39 tackles. He was a vital part of the Packer's Super Bowl victory and they might not have won it without him.
Expect Raji to be a regular in the Pro Bowl for years to come.
5. Jay Ratliff
Jay Ratliff broke out in 2008 and hasn't looked back since.
In his first three seasons he started in 15 games, had eight sacks and 54 tackles. The next season (2008) Ratliff had 7.5 sacks, 51 tackles and made his first Pro Bowl. In 2009 Ratliff had six sacks, 39 tackles, two forced fumbles, an AV of 17, made his second straight Pro Bowl and was named a first team All-Pro defensive tackle. Last season he was down a little in tackles and sacks, but made his third straight Pro Bowl.
At 6'4" 293 pounds, Ratliff is one of the smaller players on this list, and he uses his speed and strength to create havoc on the line of scrimmage.
4. Kevin Williams
At the beginning of last season, Williams would have been number one on this list. 2010 was an off year for him and he dropped a little in the rankings.
From his second season in the league (2004) through 2009, Williams made the Pro Bowl and was selected a first team All-Pro player every year except 2005 (fought injuries). In his first seven season he totaled 48.5 sacks, 327 tackles, six forced fumbles, and had four defensive touchdowns.
Last season he only recorded one sack, 39 tackles and had his lowest AV since the 2005 season (10). Despite this he made his fifth straight Pro Bowl, but was not a first team All-Pro for the first time since 2005.
3. Vince Wilfork
Vince Wilfork is a huge piece of the Patriots defense (literally). He's a 6'2" 325 pound run-stuffing monster in the middle of that defensive line. He commands multiple blockers, freeing up space for his defensive ends to reach the quarterback.
Wilfork has made the Pro Bowl three times in the last four seasons, including last season. He teams up with Albert Haynesworth this upcoming season so expect him to have another big year.
2. Ndamukong Suh
Coming in at number two, Ndamukong Suh is my highest rated player at any position coming off their rookie season.
After only one season is the NFL, Suh has shown he's one of the league's most dominate players. He started in every game and led all defensive tackles with 10 sacks. Suh had a number of quarterback hurries that led to incomplete passes or interceptions. He was also a force at stopping the run, and recorded 65 tackles.
Suh made the Pro Bowl, was selected as a first team All-Pro defensive tackle and won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
1. Haloti Ngata
Haloti Ngata is often overlooked because of the other great players on that Ravens defense. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed get most of the credit on that defense, but Ngata is just as important as they are.
He is a big body in the middle of that line (6'4" 335 lbs) and is the main reason they have such a good run defense. Last season they only gave up 94 rushing yards per game and allowed their opponents a league leading five rushing touchdowns. Good luck if you need a goal line touchdown and Ngata is lined up against you.
He is also great at rushing the quarterback. Last year Ngata had 5.5 sacks and would constantly pressure the passer.
Last season Ngata was selected to his second straight Pro Bowl and was named a first team All-Pro defensive tackle.