Blog Entry

Position rankings: defensive tackles

Posted on: July 8, 2010 12:34 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 12:45 pm

K. Williams (US Presswire)Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on defensive tackles.

Josh Katzowitz’s top five

5. Haloti Ngata, Ravens

4. Vince Wilfork, Patriots

3. Jay Ratliff, Cowboys

2. Albert Haynesworth, Redskins

1. Kevin Williams, Vikings

As expected, this position is brimming with talent, and unlike some other (unnamed) positions, where it was pretty tough to find five really quality stars, this list had to be edited and reworked a few times because there were so many deserving linemen. I’m sure there are five other tackles out there who could be placed on a top-five list and have them be just as deserving. Well, maybe nearly as deserving.

Kevin Williams most likely will play this season after avoiding a potential suspension because of a positive drug test issue. If he’s on the field, he’s one of the best interior DL in the NFL (as his four-straight Pro Bowls will attest). I thought long and hard about putting Haynesworth above Williams, but as good as he’s been as a DT, he might not be as effective as a nose tackle. Plus, he was just a little below elite last season, and the fact is that he’s played a 16-game schedule exactly one time – during his rookie season in 2002.

Ratliff has accumulated 13.5 sacks in the past two years – the guy certainly knows how to rush a passer. And now that he’s had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbows – which didn’t allow him to bench press the past two years – he could easily move to the top of this list. Wilfork is the anchor of the Patriots 3-4 defense, and now, he’s being paid like one after signing a five-year, $40 million contract with $25 million guaranteed. Ngata is huge and nimble and quick and athletic. He demands double-teams.

Andy Benoit's top five

5. Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens

4. Jay Ratliff, Dallas Cowboys

3. Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots

2. Albert Haynesworth, Washington Redskins

1. Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings

I swear I made this list before I saw yours. You nailed Ngata: nimble and quick. To me, Ratliff is the amazing member of this list. He’s a former seventh-round pick who, at a diminutive 303 pounds, has become the most dominant nose tackle in the NFC. He’s expanded the criteria for how we evaluate nose tackles. Rather than commanding double-teams with sheer size, he commands them with energy and quickness off the snap.

Wilfork doesn’t get enough credit for his lateral agility.

I seriously doubt Haynesworth will be on this much longer. He’s going to roll over in Washington this season. It’s too bad that so much natural talent went to such a bad guy (and I don’t use the term “bad guy” lightly).

I hate to get in the habit of doing top eight, but since we’re in agreement again, here’s what I have: 6. Shaun Rogers (assuming he bounces back from leg injury), 7. Darnell Dockett (the most tenacious D-lineman in the game), 8. Kris Jenkins (Ratliff-like quickness off the snap, Wilfork-like size; only problem has been injuries).

Josh’s rebuttal

I probably would have put Dockett on my top five – though I’m not sure who I would have left off – but I was saving him for the defensive ends list. I saw Rogers play live a few times last year; he didn’t do much to impress me. He’s just really, really big. He’s a quality run-stopper, but when he’s out of shape, he’s not a top-10 guy. My top eight would go: 6. Kris Jenkins (I was close to putting him in the top five – he has really good athleticism), 7. Pat Williams (he’s not as good as he once was, but he’s still a powerful force), 8. Jonathan Babineaux (he’s athletic and plays well as a pass rusher and run-stopper). Babineaux faced a felony animal cruelty charge a few years ago, so that’s a bit weird. But still, we’re talking about a really good undersized DT.

You know, this isn’t quite as much fun when we agree. I miss us making fun of each other. O Manny Lawson, Manny Lawson, wherefore art thou Manny Lawson?

Andy’s final word

I think Babineaux is underrated, but not to the degree that he makes the top eight. His 2007 animal cruelty charges flew under the radar because – and what are the odds of this – another Falcons player had bigger animal abuse charges around that time. (You might remember reading something about it.)

Babineaux’s charges were later dismissed after it was determined that the pit bull killed – which belonged to a girlfriend who later became his wife – had a history of unprovoked attacks. In short, it sounds like Babineaux did nothing wrong. But you can form your own opinion; read the report here.

Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter  | Kicker | 4-3 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Inside Linebacker)

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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Since: Jul 24, 2009
Posted on: July 12, 2010 5:06 am

Position rankings: defensive tackles

Haynesworth is the best - the VERY best that the NFL has seen in a long time. Yes, he has issues that couls undermine his performance.

He is so dominant - virtually anytime he wants to. A truck in a world of cars.

Since: Nov 10, 2006
Posted on: July 10, 2010 12:37 am

Position rankings: defensive tackles

Yeah and Ngata's role is to eat up double teams, which doesn't get the pretty stats (hence why Haynesworth wants out of D.C.). And if you ask anyone who the better athlete is, every knowledgeable person around the NFL will say Ngata, weighing in at 350 pounds and doing what he does. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have either guy on my team, and they both do exactly what their teams ask them to do. That essentially makes it a toss up, because if you ask these guys to do the other's job, they both turn pretty average. But I'd have to take Ngata based on his athleticism and ability to stuff the run as well as any DT in the league, including Williams. 

Since: Nov 30, 2007
Posted on: July 9, 2010 11:47 pm

Position rankings: defensive tackles

Im a Dallas fan and i am willing to say some of these people are a little crazy.  The better the players around you, the easier everyones job is, so lets get that one straight.  Honestly, i dont care much for rankings, because each player is asked to do different types of things for his team.  Just to hear Ratliff's name mentioned among these guys should be enough to make us Dallas fans proud.  Who cares if he is 5th or 2nd or 1st for that matter?  He is being mentioned top 5 so just be happy with that. 

Since: Jul 2, 2008
Posted on: July 9, 2010 8:58 pm

Position rankings: defensive tackles

How come Casey Hampton can't even get an honorable mention?

Since: Jan 16, 2009
Posted on: July 9, 2010 7:21 pm

Position rankings: defensive tackles

You're an idiot. The only reason Ratliff gets ANY sacks is because of DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Qb's avoiding Ware's outside rush, step up in the pocket, run into him and fall down.

Ranking a 4-3 DT and a 3-4 NT in the same column is stupid.

Just like all the cowboy fans.

You say 300lbs like he is a light-weight or something.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: July 9, 2010 6:54 pm

Position rankings: defensive tackles

It has nothing to do with who is blocking who.  When their is a pass rusher of Wares' ability your entire blocking scheme is gameplanned towards stopping him.  Having any player, who is elite in even one aspect of the game on the field, opens up more space and time for all his teammates due to this fact that his opponents always have to account for him.  

Since: Sep 7, 2007
Posted on: July 9, 2010 4:52 pm

Position rankings: defensive tackles

How exactly? If he were a DE, sure. When do you see a TE blocking the NT?

Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: July 9, 2010 4:33 pm

Position rankings: defensive tackles

(not easy to do playing next to DeMarcus Ware)

Are you kidding me? Playing next to Demarcus Ware only makes his job easier. You cowboy fans crack me up with the rediculous way you look at things.

Since: Sep 7, 2007
Posted on: July 9, 2010 2:38 pm

Position rankings: defensive tackles

Well, you say he doesn't play on a better defense. I beg to differ. To me, the pre eminent defensive statistic is points allowed. That is the purpose of a defense, right? To keep the offense from scoring? Turnovers are big, no question about that. But at the end of the game, you don't see turnovers on the scoreboard..You see the score. I'll take the defense that allows the fewest points all day.

Ratliff just doesn't have more sacks, he has three times as many sacks. Even more impressive when consider Ware has the highest sack per year avg in the league the last five years. There are only so many sacks to go around, and the C and Guard positions are not blocking the OLB.

Sacks are game changers. They are turnovers on third down. They are third and longs on second down. The are field position dictators. None of the other NT's are even close in this catagory.

Since: Jul 6, 2007
Posted on: July 9, 2010 2:01 pm

Position rankings: defensive tackles

Ngata isn't even technically a DT. He plays DE, Kelly Gregg is Balt's starting DT.

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