Ranking the DTs: Ngata is No. 1
The Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowler leads all defensive tackles
After watching games and breaking down film, Scouts Inc. has evaluated and graded more than 2,500 NFL players heading into the 2011 season. Here's how the defensive tackles stacked up.
There are a lot of great defensive tackles in the league right now, but nobody is quite like Haloti Ngata at this point. He's the total package, with elite size, quickness and explosiveness. He's a run-stopper, a pass-rusher, a disruptor in every sense. He's setting the standard. What is that standard?
Well, for this exercise, "defensive tackle" represents a range. We go from the massive two-gapping nose tackle types to the long, leaner, athletic 3-technique tackles who explode off the ball, can run and are just rare athletes. And, of course, you see everything in between. So in a way here, we are comparing apples to oranges, but still, the truly elite specimens at defensive tackle are just different from 99.9 percent of the people walking the planet. You know when you watch Ngata.
Ngata has been a mainstay on the interior of the Ravens' defense since entering the league in 2006. He is one of the largest and most powerful interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
He has excellent foot agility and quickness for his size. Ngata can push the pocket with strength to bull rush offensive linemen. He feels pad pressure well and uses his hands effectively to gain leverage and restrict running lanes. He was an impact pass-rusher in 2010. He is a versatile lineman who can align in more than one position in the Ravens' 4-3 scheme.
Smith has been a consistent producer and brings an excellent combination of size, speed, athleticism along with a high level of intensity and effort. He has lost a step over the years, but compensates with excellent technique and the ability to key and diagnose while reacting to blocking schemes.
He feels and fights through pressure and is quick to locate the level of the ball and leverage his way to the action. He is a solid performer who may lack premier pass-rushing speed or the bulk to be a dominant run defender, but is an excellent combination of the two.
Wilfork is one of the most powerful interior defenders in the league. He is a very good athlete for his size, showing lateral agility between the tackles. He can push the pocket with a bull rush technique from the inside, but his production as pass-rusher is average at best.
He feels pad pressure well and reacts quickly as blocking schemes unfold. He has strong hand with a powerful initial punch to hold the point of attack. He is a load inside and rarely gives ground as a run defender.
Williams has short legs and arms but plays very low to the ground with a good center of gravity. He does a nice job of playing through or over blocks.
He uses his hands well to control the blocker at the point of attack. He is more of a short-area playmaker with quickness and power to penetrate gaps. He does not run very well or make a lot of plays outside the tackles. He can collapse the pocket as a pass rusher and has developed a decent counter move off his initial bull rush attack.
Kevin Williams had another solid season for the Vikings defense but had a noticeable drop off sack production in 2010. Williams has been one of the most consistent durable interior defenders in the league over his eight year career.
He has an excellent combination of size, strength and athleticism. He can push the pocket with natural strength and quickness and has a variety of pass-rush moves. He has a great feel for how to restrict running lanes and penetrate gaps. Williams has strong, active hands to control his opponent, which enables him separate effectively in traffic. He can be a relentless defender who often draws double teams, freeing up linebackers at the second level. Kevin Williams brings consistency, experience and attitude to the Minnesota roster.
To see the rest of the defensive tackle rankings -- and have access to the complete Scouts Inc. Big Book -- you must be an ESPN Insider.
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