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Top 10 Defensive Tackles in NFL 2021 Rankings

Aaron Donald tops the list going into the 2021-2022 NFL Season for interior defensive lineman. Also ranking the best lineman which includes Vita Vea, Jonathan Allen, and more

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By Brandon Walker | September 03, 2021 - 12:42 PM

In interior lineman in the NFL today, we have our run-stuffing nose tackles, our three-technique pass-rushing specialist, and guys that can do both, but it is universally known that Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams is the best in the business, and barring injury he will continue to be. Here is my top 10 interior lineman for 2021.

 

Honorable Mention

Daron Payne

Team: Washington Football Team

2020 Stats: 27 Solo, 3 Sacks, 3 FF, 1 INT

Payne is probably the least celebrated along Washington's defensive front but he has been one of the best run defenders in the NFL the past couple of years and he could see his sacks numbers increase as he gets more seasoning. Payne recorded over 50 tackles the past two seasons.

 

Stephon Tuitt

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

2020 Stats: 33 Solo, 11 Sacks, 2 FF

Tuitt's 71 pressures last season were second-most in the NFL behind Donald and will continue to get opportunities as long as T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward are in the lineup.

 

Calais Campbell

Team: Baltimore Ravens

2020 Stats: 18 Solo, 4 Sacks, 0 FF

The veteran missed some time in 2020 with a calf injury but the 35-year-old, when healthy, is still one of the most complete defensive linemen in the NFL. From 2016-2019 he graded over 90 or above according to Pro Football Focus. Campbell is trying to make one last push to get a gold jacket in the future.

 

Quinnen Williams

Team: New York Jets

2020 Stats: 32 Solo, 7 Sacks, 2 FF

Although the Jets were a disaster in2020, the emergence of Williams as a dominant force on the interior was a bright spot. Williams jumped from 28 tackles to 55 and from 2.5 to 7 sacks. I see a lot of Pro Bowls in his future starting this season. 

 

Top 10 Defensive Tackles

  1. Jonathan Allen

Team: Washington Football Team

2020 Stats: 36 Solo, 2 Sacks, 0 FF

Allen is just a classic, old-school defensive lineman. He is not flashy, but he is consistent, shows great technique and he will hold his assignments to a tee. Allen has had over 60 tackles the past three seasons.

 

  1. Kenny Clark

Team: Green Bay Packers

2020 Stats: 28 Solo, 2 Sacks, 0 FF

Clark is a nose tackle who recorded 62 combined tackles and sacks as a nose tackle last season. His 61 pressures lining up from the 0 or 1 technique since 2016 is the most in the NFL during that time.

 

  1. Leonard Williams

Team: New York Giants

2020 Stats: 29 Solo, 11.5 Sacks, 0 FF

The Giant's Williams has just been a solid and dependable lineman since he has been in the NFL. He no doubt had his best season in 2020 with 11.5 sacks and 58 combined tackles and 62 pressures.

 

  1. Vita Vea

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2020 Stats: 6 Solo, 2 Sacks, 0 FF

Vea is the best nose tackle in the NFL and the main reason that the Buccaneers dominated the Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. The way he singlehandedly collapsed the pocket and allows fellow Tampa pass rushers to torture Patrick Mahomes all day night long.

 

  1. Fletcher Cox

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

2020 Stats: 28 Solo, 6.5 Sacks, 1 FF

If not for Aaron Donald, Cox might have been the best defensive tackle that NFL has had in the past 15 years. Cox has had 302 quarterback pressures since 2016. Fletcher may not have the sack totals as Donald, but he is the better run defender.

 

  1. Grady Jarrett

Team: Atlanta Falcons

2020 Stats: 27 Solo, 4 Sacks, 0 FF

Jarrett had a career-high 57 pressures last season playing on a poor Falcon's defense. Pro Football Focus has graded him at an 80 or above every season since 2017. If Jarrett could find some help, he would get more recognition.

 

  1. Cameron Heyward

Team: Pittsburgh Steelers

2020 Stats: 30 Solo, 4 Sacks, 0 FF, 1 INT

Heyward is one of these players that gets better with age. According to PFF, Heyward has graded at over a 90 in run-stopping and pass-rushing and he has played the fourth-most defensive snaps among linemen since 2017.

 

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  1. Chris Jones

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

2020 Stats: 23 Solo, 7.5 Sacks, 2 FF

Jones has recorded32 sacks and 49 quarterback hits over the last three seasons. He has been the most consistent force on a defense that is inconsistent with an outside pass rush and liabilities in pass coverage.

 

  1. Deforest Buckner

Team: Indianapolis Colts

2020 Stats: 37 Solo, 9.5 Sacks, 2 FF

Buckner proved last season that he was not a product of the dominant San Francisco Defense that made Super Bowl 54. He proved that he is a cornerstone of an elite defense last season. Buckner had 58 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and an 89.8 overall grade according to PFF. Buckner was definitely worth the first-round pick the Colts gave up for him.

 

  1. Aaron Donald

Team: Los Angeles Rams

2020 Stats: 27 Solo, 13.5 Sacks, 4 FF

Aaron Donald is the most dominant interior lineman that the league has seen since Reggie White. He leads the league in sacks, pressures, and pass rush wins without pressure. He can play on a four-man line, a three-man line, nose tackle it doesn't matter. Donald is on his way to being one of the best defensive players of all time regardless of position.

How would you rank these Defensive Tackles going into the 2021-2022 season? Rank below to be added in the Power Rankings and to have a chance to win a gift card to LAZADA, Amazon, Fanatics.com, or more that is specific to you. Join the contest by ranking below

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