Now that the NFL Draft is over, we are in for about three months of pure speculation and debate. In a good way to add fuel to the fire, we will go through every position and rank the top ten players at each position. Before making the rankings, first it should be clarified how these players are ranked. These aren’t players with the best statistics from last year, or with the best teams around them. It isn’t the best play per contract, or the young but unestablished vs. old and experienced debate. It is more so a projection of talent and determining that if a game was in two weeks, and I had to pick a player to be on my team, who would I take over the other. It comes down to a gut opinion, but having watched nearly every snap of the NFL in the past two years via NFL Game Pass I do have confidence in my opinions. At the end of the day it is another discussion of debate so check it out and let me know what you think. Defense is tough because there are so many different and versatile schemes in today’s NFL. I tried to break down position groups into specific schemes to better equate each player’s skills to their role. Therefore we took what was considered the base defense that they fit best in to use, and obviously only ranked each player in one position. This week we start with 3-4 defensive ends.
1. JJ Watt
No matter what position or where you group Watt he is going to be the best. Watt can lineup in any position on the field and excel in it. He has a unique blend of speed, strength and burst that give him the edge over an lineman in the NFL.
2. Calais Campbell
Campbell has been a consistent moster since 2009. He put up 61 total tackles and 5 sacks last year. He is another guy who can line up anywhere on the line, and you can argue that he is even more dominant against the run as he is against the pass.
3. Cam Heyward
Heyward is emerging as one of the best overall defensive lineman in the NFL. In his last two years he put up 14.5 sacks and has shown a major increase in rush defense.
4. Malik Jackson
Jackson and his emergence in the league was the most underrated factor in what made Denver such a good defense last year. It is one thing when you have a guy who takes up blockers and clears lanes for rushers like Demarcus Ware and Von Miller. It is a whole other thing when you are plowing over lineman to pave an easy pass to the quarterback.
5. Cameron Jordan
Jordan is another versatile lineman, and is one of the better pass rushers on the list. He was able to put up 10 sacks last year, and this year he is rumored to move outside more to the 4-3 end. Either way he is as talented of a lineman as you will find.
6. Jurrell Casey
Casey is really the only factor on the Tennessee defensive line. Despite years of taking on extra blockers and receiving all of the attention he put up seven sacks last season and was a force against the run between the tackles.
7. Sheldon Richardson
Richardson dealt with some off-field issues before posting a less than special year by his standards. He is still a force and is one of the better pass rushing interior players. He should be looking to show significant improvement after a somewhat down year last year.
8. Corey Liuget
Last year Liuget saw injury, and really had the least effective year of his career. He has been a rising lineman every year in his career, and is a stud against the run. With the Chargers seemingly bit by the injury bug last year he should be able to bounce back.
9. Mike Daniels
Daniels is a powerful man. He is emerging in the league and he is a guy who is a force in run defense. He always seems to be behind the line wreaking havoc, and entering his third season as a starter he should be looking to only improve.
10. Allan Bailey
Bailey is good in what he does in that he opens lanes for his pass rushers. He is good at occupying space and taking up blockers. He did put in 4.5 sacks in 12 games as well last year, and is a key piece to an underrated defensive line.