Movie Quote of the Day:
“Me? I know who I am! I’m the dude playing a dude, disguised as another dude!”
Kirk Lazarus, Tropic Thunder (2008)
NFL analysts, experts, players, etc. have been releasing their own rankings for the top players in the NFL. The NFL Network just released their Top 100 that is voted on by the players. Also, Mike Miller at Bleacher Report has been coming out with his own rankings of the Top 1,000 players in the NFL.
I decided to create my own version of this, but I’m going to put it together by position (except punters and fullbacks because nobody cares about them) and it’ll only be 100 players. I’m not even sure I can name 1,000 people that I know in the real world, let alone the NFL. I’m also going to add honorable mentions and the “Rising Star” of each position. Another thing I added when creating these lists is that the players have to currently be on a team. No free agents.
I know that just about no one can name offensive linemen, so I doubt they can name any NFL nose tackles. Most probably don’t know what the nose tackle position even is, I’ll explain. A nose tackle is typically found in a 3-4 defense (three defensive linemen, four linebackers). They always line up directly in front of the center. They’re almost always the biggest guys on the field, ranging from 315 to 360 pounds. Their main job is to plug up holes in the run game and get off blocks; getting sacks are rare for these guys. Here’s my list of the top nose tackles in the NFL:
Rising Star: John Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
2014 stats: 30 total tackles and one sack
Jenkins is the biggest guy on this list, weighing close to 360 pounds. Jenkins was drafted in 2013, he’s had to play behind veteran Brodrick Bunkley. Last season, Jenkins ranked number three overall amongst nose tackles in run stop percentage at 10.3 percent, according to Pro Football Focus. Jenkins has a career 51 total tackles, pretty good for a backup player. I’d say he’s a player to watch out for the future, especially since Bunkley is getting up there in age.
Honorable Mention: Vince Wilfork, Houston Texans
2014 stats: 47 total tackles
If this were four years ago, Wilfork would be number one on this list. However, he’s about to turn 34 in November. Wilfork has a total of 516 career tackles and 16 sacks. He’s a 5x Pro Bowler (2007, 2009-2012). He finished First-team All-Pro in 2012 and is a 4x Second-team All-Pro (2007, 2009-2011). Wilfork started to become out position in his most recent seasons in New England, in my opinion. New England started to switch to a 4-3 defense (four defensive linemen, three linebackers) and he’s not a 4-3 defensive tackle. He’s back to his natural position in Houston.
Top 5 Nose Tackles in the NFL:
5. Bennie Logan, Philadelphia Eagles
2014 stats: 57 total tackles
Logan was also drafted in 2013. In two seasons with Philadelphia, he has put up decent numbers. He has a total of 84 tackles and two sacks. He ranked number four amongst nose tackles in run stop percentage (9.9 percent) in 2014.
4. Brandon Williams, Baltimore Ravens
2014 stats: 46 total tackles, 0.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles
Like Logan and Jenkins, Williams was drafted in 2013. Last season was Williams’ first season as the starting nose tackle in Baltimore, where he had a big season. He finished ranked number two amongst nose tackles in run stop percentage (10.6 percent). Williams has a total of 52 total tackles so far in his career.
3. Damon Harrison, New York Jets
2014 stats: 55 total tackles
Harrison has been the starting nose tackle for the Jets the last two seasons. Harrison was the number one ranked nose tackle at run stop percentage at 12.5 percent. Harrison has a total of 121 tackles the last two seasons also. He’s a force on that Jets defensive line.
2. Terrance Knighton, Washington Redskins
2014 stats: 30 tackles and 2 sacks
Knighton didn’t play much last year against the run, which is odd because he’s one of the best in the league at stopping the run. He’s also a decent pass rusher. Knighton has had 12.5 career sacks, which is pretty good for his position. He’s one of the most complete nose tackles in the NFL.
1. Dontari Poe
2014 stats: 45 total tackles and 6 sacks
Poe is the most complete nose tackle in the NFL. He’s been the starter in Kansas City since getting drafted in 2012. In three years, Poe has 135 total tackles and 10.5 sacks. He’s also a 2x Pro Bowler (2013 and 2014) and was Second-team All-Pro in 2013. He’s great at stopping the run and led the NFL in total snaps against the run (381).
It’s rare for a nose tackle to make a Pro Bowl or even get enough respect to make an All-Pro team. Nose tackles are the most important position to a 3-4 defense, but they don’t get any respect because they don’t put up great numbers. This is what makes Wilfork and Poe so great, they’ve made multiple Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams. Poe is the next great nose tackle now that Wilfork is nearing retirement.
Tomorrow: Top 5 Centers
All stats from:
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