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Who are the fifteen best defensive tackles in the NFL in 2023?
Having a defensive tackle is one of the most critical positions in the NFL. While there might be more glamorous positions, occupying multiple positions and creating chances for other teammates is no joke.
Without a solid defensive style, the other components of the team may not be as crispy. This list comprises the best players in the league. While their main job is dependant defensively, they also had their big-time plays.
What is a defensive tackle?
A defensive tackle is a position in American Football where a player lines up in the line of scrimmage. They line up opposite the offensive guards or one of the tackles to attract attention from as many offensive linemen as possible. Defensive tackles are usually the largest and strongest of the defensive group.
The best defensive tackle in NFL
Some have been ranked among the best in the league, while others are on their way to greatness. Here are the best defensive tackles in the National Football League.
15. Grover Stewart, Indianapolis Colts
Starting off the list is the Indianapolis Colt's great, Grover Stewart. He is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, and Sports Illustrated declared him the most underrated player in the league. In the 2022 season, he had 38 stops while appearing on at least 41% of the Colts' defensive snaps in every game.
14. Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 6 foot 4 inches giant was inducted into the league in 2018 as a first-round pick. His body size and playing style have quickly elevated him to become a household name. However, injuries have hampered his career, but they do not seem to stop him as he has used every chance he gets to show the world what he is capable of. His combination of skill and strength is the primary component that has put the Buccaneers' defensive tackle to another level.
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13. Grady Jarrett, Atlanta Falcons
Coming into the league in 2015, Grady has been one of the most prestigious prospects from the Falcon draft. Being the third NFL player in his family, he is genetically able to take on the most challenging obstacle that would come his way. He has proven that by being one of the best defensive tackles in the league as he continues his quest to be the greatest.
12. D.J.Reader, Cincinnati Bengals
Starting with a bad start to his Bengals' career in the NFL with injury, he came back in the 2021 season with power and led the team to the Super Bowl LVI. Since then, he has been a dominating figure, leading the team to be among the best defensively in the league. Coming into 2022, the team has allowed just three 100-yard rushers in the 24 combined games in which Reader has played while at the same time holding the Rams to just 1.9 yards per carry in Super Bowl LVI.
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11. Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers' defence can face off against any of the league's top units, thanks to Armstead. He has been one of the essential pieces defensively, stopping some of the greatest attackers of the NFL. The 6 foot 7 inch, 290 pounds giant with the speed and strength needed affects any game plan as he continues to strive through his road to victory in the 2022-23 campaign.
10. Christian Wilkins, Miami Dolphins
With an incredible anchoring capability against his opponents, thanks to his flexibility, Wilkins is the most ferocious competitor in the game. Coming out of a beautiful 2022, much is expected from the defensive tackle, and he doesn't seem to disappoint. At the centre of Miami's defensive line, he has made the team unbreakable with his running mate Zach Sieler on his side.
9. Kenny Clark, Green Bay Packers
The need for Kenny Clark on the Packers' defence cannot be overstated. He is the franchise's present and future, dominating the league in the last half-decade. With Rashan Gary sustaining an injury, he is the only dependable rushing option on the defensive front. However, he has taken the pressure and tried to neutralize it while at the same time perfecting his club-and-rip technique.
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8. Jonathan Allen, Washington Commanders
Jonathan Allen is one of the best defensive tackles in the league and the best player of the Washington Commanders. Coming into his sixth season, he has been the most significant player on the roaster, giving the Commanders an incredible comeback from the tragic 2021 season.
7. DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis Colts
DeForest Buckner played for Oregon at the college level and was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He joined the Colts in 2020, played incredibly, got selected for the First-Team All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl the following year. Standing at a lanky 6 foot 7 inches, the defensive tackle has the best go-to move in the league, thanks to his incredible arm-over or "swim" technique.
6. Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers
The American first-round pick from Ohio State University is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL currently. He has carved out an outstanding career without the athletic nature of other defenders. He is also a dedicated player, and at 33 (as of January 2023), he still shows zeal in the game, saying he intends to go for five more years.
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5. Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants
Lawrence is a durable and productive member of the New York Giants. Since leaving Clemson, he has matured his game and continuously improved his craft. Constantly referred to as the 'Rolce Royce' of the team, his leadership strength has brought the Giants closer together and made it a collectively more substantial group.
4. Quinnen Williams, New York Jets
Williams was one of the best prospects from his draft class, and it took time before reaching the level everyone expected him to. He is likeable off the pitch as he is ruthless on it, a real-life version of a superhero, as he puts it. He takes advantage of his size and flexibility to go against his opponents and quickly take them down.
3. Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans
One thing that makes Jeffery Simmons earn this spot on the list of the best is his consistency. He goes into the season with the same power and explosiveness year in and year out, destroying anyone that comes his way. The 6 foot 4 inches, 300-pounder is an absolute menace to his opponents, with tremendous strength that enables him to do anything humanly possible on the pitch.
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2. Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
Jones has been one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL for a decade now (as of 2023) and had one of the most productive seasons of his career in 2022. He topped the league in pressures (77) and the best pass-rush win rate (20.2%) of any interior rusher. While Chef's defence declined in the 2022 campaign, everything lies on him and Nick Bolton to switch things up and make it better in the upcoming season.
1. Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald is undoubtedly the best defensive tackle in the NFL today. Thanks to his defensive prowess, he has bagged almost all awards in his eight-year career. He is a pass-rushing nightmare, and coupled with his quickness and natural leverage, he becomes unstoppable. He is also considered by many as the best defensive tackle in NFL all-time.
Best defensive tackle in NFL history
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Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald is arguably the best defensive tackle in NFL history. He is the fastest DT to record 100 sacks and the only one to record 20 sacks in a season (20.5 in 2018). Throughout his eight years in the league, he has never missed a Pro Bowl selection and has been named a First-Team All-Pro by the Associated Press in each of the last seven seasons
Best defensive tackles in the NFL draft 2023
The 2023 NFL draft defensive tackle group is the broadest and most flexible positional category. While this is the case, many prospects have proven to be the most reliable, intending to replace veterans in the league and prove their worth. Some of the top in that mix include Bryan Bresee, Siaki Ika, Calijah Kancey and Georgia's own Jalen Carter.
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Bryce Young is undoubtedly the top 2023 prospect. Coming from Alabama, he has all it takes to dominate the league. He is incredibly talented and will make the most out of his experience, equipment and coaches to take the club to the next level.
After the incredible 2022 campaign, the defensive tackles have been listed. The best is expected from them, and nothing less is toleratable with the league's competitiveness.
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