Sep 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets won 18-17. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Top 10 NFL Defensive Tackles In the League

The defensive ends get paid the big bucks but their NFL success is decided by who helps them in the middle.  So who are the best defensive tackles in the game?

#10 – Sheldon Richardson – New York Jets

Sheldon Richardson proved a lot of doubters wrong in 2013.  Many felt he wasn’t a great fit for the New York Jets scheme under Rex Ryan.  He answered by winning NFL Rookie of the Year.  What can he do for an encore?  Lots if you believe the building hype.

#9 – Henry Melton – Dallas Cowboys

What a difference a year makes.  After going to a Pro Bowl in 2012 and establishing himself as one of the best interior pass rushers in the league, Henry Melton watched a slow start to last season end in nightmare with a torn ACL in just the third game.  He is still young and can impact games when healthy, but needs to prove it all over again.

#8 – Terrance Knighton – Denver Broncos

Another overlooked defensive tackle with a great nickname.  Terrance Knighton, or “Pot Roast” to his teammates, was the main reason the Denver Broncos fielded the 8th ranked run defense.  In fact his ability to shutdown Marshawn Lynch was the only good thing Denver can take away from their Super Bowl defeat.  Knighton also had three sacks on the year, demonstrating his sneaky pass rush skill.

#7 – Marcell Dareus – Buffalo Bills

As maddening and idiotic as Marcell Dareus has been for the Buffalo Bills during this off-season, he is still coming off his first Pro Bowl in a year he posted 71 tackles and 7.5 sacks.  He has never had fewer than five sacks in a season and has never missed a game in three years.

#6 – Dontari Poe – Kansas City Chiefs

Justin Houston and Tamba Hali get the credit for the success of the Kansas City Chiefs defense but they wouldn’t succeed nearly as much without the presence of Dontari Poe in the middle.  His Pro Bowl campaign last year catapulted K.C. to the top of the defensive ranks and validated the chance the team took on him in the draft.

#5 – Vince Wilfork – New England Patriots

So much change and bad fortune has enveloped the New England Patriots defense over the years.  Yet they always seem to pull it together for the playoffs, and the biggest reason why is Vince Wilfork.  The five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle remains one of the best run defenders in the NFL at age 32 despite his recent Achilles injury.

#4 – Gerald McCoy – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Through two different head coaches Gerald McCoy managed to fight his way to stardom in pro football.  His 9.5 sacks in 2013 were a personal best with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and enough to lock up his second Pro Bowl nod.  With Lovie Smith in town he is only going to get better.

#3 – Geno Atkins – Cincinnati Bengals

A torn ACL robbed him of a glorious chance to shoot to the top of the list but at age 26 and with 29 sacks in just four seasons, Geno Atkins has become one of the standards defensive tackles are compared to when they enter the league.  Provided he returns healthy, that should not change anytime soon.

#2 – Ndamukong Suh – Detroit Lions

As tiresome and nauseating his attitude on the field can be sometimes, it’s impossible to deny the effect Ndamukong Suh has on football games.  His ability to press the pocket, shake blockers and control the line of scrimmage have made the Detroit Lions defensive front one of the best in the NFL.

#1 – Haloti Ngata – Baltimore Ravens

While Atkins, McCoy and Suh tend to get the headlines for their highlight reel plays, the Baltimore Ravens have quietly fielded the most consistently dominant interior force in the game.  Haloti Ngata doesn’t call attention to himself.  He just makes plays.  Don’t believe it?  Talk to his five Pro Bowl, 414 tackles, 23.5 sacks and Super Bowl ring.

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Buffalo Bills Cincinnati Bengals Dallas Cowboys Denver Broncos Detroit Lions Kansas City Chiefs New England Patriots New York Jets Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • zack smith

    McCoy at 4 is too low. Dudes a beast and a perfect team guy. Plays the run just as good as he plays the pass. Atkins is also a beast. But he’s coming off an acl. Could never be the same. Too high for now. Suh is dominant and about in the right spot, could be #1. Ngata is on past accomplishments. Same with wilfork.

    • Erik Lambert

      Ngata was a Pro Bowler last year, Zack. McCoy is on the precipice of seizing the top spot himself but he needs one more year like the one he had in 2013.

  • Steve

    Damon Harrison’s nickname is “snacks” not Sheldon Richardson

    • Erik Lambert

      Yeah, that was a misprint on my part meant for a different article. Corrected

  • TheFrasier707

    Very good list!McCoy will become a sapp did.tampas D will b n the top 5 at the end of the season.when tampa is make a push to make the playoffs

    • Erik Lambert

      The key will be whether their offense can carry their weight.