NFL Power Rankings: The Top 10 Defensive Playmakers in the League
The definition of a playmaker is a player in a team game who leads attacks or brings other players on the same side into a position from which they could score.
Some of the top defensive playmakers in NFL history include the likes of Lawrence Taylor, Deion Sanders and the late Derrick Thomas.
Here are the 10 best defensive playmakers in the league today.
Criteria for Selections
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I used a few selection criteria in order to make this list.
First of all, I tried to rank players based on how well they are at taking over games on defense.
Secondly, I also considered versatility to be very important as well.
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10. LaMarr Woodley
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With the first of three Steelers on this list, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley comes in at No. 10 on my list of the league's best defensive playmakers.
It's hard to argue how dominant Woodley has been of late, picking up 32.5 sacks in the last two-plus seasons.
He's also just starting to enter his prime at age 27 years old and could be an elite player for a long time.
Once he gets back from his injury, look for Woodley to continue to challenge for the AFC sack lead this season.
9. James Harrison
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The second Steeler on this list is none other than Pro Bowl OLB James Harrison.
The former Kent State star is not only one of the best defensive playmakers in the league, but also one of the scariest as well.
He's known for handing out concussions to offensive players and being a dominant linebacker for one of the best defenses in the league.
Harrison's best season came in 2008; he had over 100 tackles, 16 sacks and seven forced fumbles for the Super Bowl champion Steelers.
8. Julius Peppers
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They just don't make too many defensive players like Julius Peppers anymore.
He is a 6'7", 285 defensive end that models the late great Reggie White due to his size and speed off the edge.
In his 10-year NFL career, he has already been selected to six different Pro Bowl teams and has racked up 95 sacks as well.
What makes him such an elite playmaker in this league is his ability to rush the passer and take over games on the defensive side of the ball.
7. Jared Allen
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The lone Minnesota Viking on my list drops in at No. 7.
Allen has one of the best motors for a defensive lineman in NFL history.
His relentless motor has helped him to 96.5 sacks in his eight-year career and has shaped him into one of the best defensive ends in the league.
The former Chief has become a matchup nightmare for any opposing left tackle that he seems to face each game.
6. Patrick Willis
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Patrick Willis is hands down the best inside linebacker in the NFL and is also one of the league's top playmakers as well.
The former Ole Miss Rebel has been a stud ever since he stepped onto the field back in '07.
He's been to the Pro Bowl every year and has amassed 150-plus tackles in two different seasons already.
Willis' dominance at his position is a big reason why his team is leading their division with an 8-1 record this season.
5. Troy Polamalu
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Other than Baltimore's Ed Reed, has there been a safety that has been as good as Polamalu over the past eight years?
The answer to that is no, and here's why.
The Steelers' star safety is extremely versatile and seems to make plays from anywhere and everywhere on the field.
He's also known for timing snaps so well that he can jump over the line of the line of scrimmage to sack opposing quarterbacks.
4. Ed Reed
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Reed is everything to the Ravens defense.
He can lay the wood, drop back into coverage and blanket receivers or also come up with big plays through interceptions that he always seems to get.
The future Hall of Famer has also been a staple of the Baltimore D for the last 10 years.
Every time that his defense is on the field, you just have the feeling that Reed is going to make a big play at any moment.
3. Charles Woodson
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Charles Woodson checks in at No. 3 on this list—and for good reason.
Woodson just keeps getting it done year after year in this league.
The Packers' CB has already gone to seven Pro Bowls and has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year as well.
The former Michigan star is one of the most complete players at his position in the league, as he is a tackling machine and is also one of the better coverage corners in the NFC.
2. DeMarcus Ware
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Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware is easily the best sack artist in the NFL today.
He's racked up an astounding 93 sacks in his seven-year career, including 13 of them this season.
Like many on this list, he is a player that nearly every offense has to game plan around each week.
If it wasn't for the versatility of Patrick Willis, you could make the argument that Ware is indeed the top defensive playmaker in the league as of right now.
1. Darrelle Revis
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Is there a better shutdown corner in the NFL than Darrelle Revis right now?
The answer is quite simple; no there isn't.
The University of Pittsburgh product has gone to the Pro Bowl in three of his last four seasons and blankets nearly ever big-name receiver he faces.
Revis is one of the best cornerbacks that the NFL has ever seen and is the best defensive playmaker in the league right now.