NFL Roundtable: Best Defensive Player

Last week we did the Best NFL QBs, so this week, we decided to do the top 7 NFL Defensive players. Ranked from 1-7.

JJ Watt1) JJ Watt.

28 Points: Unanimous Selection

Earl: JJ is a beast, simple and plain. Whether he’s single, double, or even triple covered he still finds a way to impose himself on the opposing offense. For that reason alone Watt has to be the number one guy.

Jim: He’s a game changer, and you can’t say that about too many defensive players in the NFL today.  Pure beast.

Joe: What? this is a shocker?  AP NFL DE 3 out of his first 5 years. Multipurpose player…. Plays DE but shifts easily to DT. Has 3 TD passes caught in his career as a TE.  Two 20 plus-sack seasons in his career, so far. In 2015 he had 76 tackles, an NFL-leading 17.5 sacks, 8 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

David: I don’t think there is any question here. The man is a beast.

Von Miller2) Von Miller

22 Points: Earl 6, Jim 6, Joe 4, David 6

Earl: The reigning Super Bowl MVP is a player. He gets to the QB with reckless abandon and as good as Denver’s defense is he’s the guy to get it all started. Without Miller’s contributions in the Big Game. the Panthers might be the ones entering this season as Super Bowl champions.

Jim: You could make a case to give him and only him a Super Bowl ring this year.  That’s how dominant he was in the playoffs and the Super Bowl game.

Joe: SB50 made him a household name as Miller recorded six tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries, and was named Super Bowl MVP. But, the outside LB is the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach 50 sacks in a career (58 games). In 2015 he had 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 1 INT.

David: Yeah, I hate this dude. I can’t discount his effort.

Khalil Mack3) Khalil Mack

19 Points: Earl 5, Jim 4, Joe 6, David 4

Earl: Khalil Mack was the first player to make the All-Pro Team at two different positions in the same season. His contributions at defensive end and outside linebacker were good enough to get  him nominated. All Mack does is get to the quarterback. His pass rushing is excellent enough for the Raiders to build their entire future around, and as long as Mack progresses their future will be bright.

Jim: Too bad he has to play for the Raiders.  He forces you to consider him on both run and pass.

Joe: Mack is another multipurpose player…. excels at outside LB and DE. Proof? In 2015, he is first player to win first-team All-Pro at two different positions in the same year. 2015: He had 15 sacks and 57 tackles.

David: I called this on the day he was drafted. I didn’t know he was going to be this good, but I knew he was going to be a great player.

Luke Kuechly4) Luke Kuechly

15 Points Jim: 5, Joe: 5, David: 5

Jim: Game and and game out, he simply performs.

Joe: Missed first 3 games of the season and still was able to produce 76 solo tackles and assisted on another 42; 1 sack, 4 INTs; 1 TD… in the post season he stepped it up a notch… had 2 pick-six’s.

David: No Homerism here. Luke could be considered the best defensive player, in my mind any of my top 3 could show up in any order. Luke is just amazing to watch on a game to game basis.

Josh Norman5T) Josh Norman

5 Points: Joe 3, Earl 2

Earl: Top flight cover corner that shuts down opposing receivers. Norman shuts down his opponents, and taunts them while he does it. While I’m not a fan of his personality, and I think the Redskins just got a great piece for the defense and while the Redskins have a history at throwing big money at players that eventually turn into free agent busts, I think they might buck that trend with Norman. He should only get better.

Joe: In 2015 Norman recorded 56 tackles, 18 passes defended, 4 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries. Out of all CBs, QBs had the worst rating when they tried to throw against Norman.

Richard Sherman5T) Richard Sherman

5 Points: Earl 3, David 2

Earl: Have to have a Legion of Boom player highly ranked. Sherman is a former wide receiver and a fifth round pick but he’s turned himself into the best cover corner in the game. Opposing teams rarely throw in his direction and for good reason.

David: Might be the best cover corner since Revis Island was thing.

Muhammad Wilkerson7) Muhammad Wilkerson

Earl, 4 Points

Earl: Wilkerson had 12 sacks last season and a Pro Bowl season as the New York Jets defensive end. While Revis gets the press clippings, and Sheldon Richardson’s off the field troubles took some shine off of Wilkerson early in the season, Muhammad quietly got the job done. The Jets have to pay him to stay, but knowing the organization’s history the way that I do he’ll be taking his QB wrecking ways elsewhere after next season.

Also getting Votes:

Aaron Donald8T) Aaron Donald

Jim, 3 Points:  Watch the Rams play, and count how many times he makes you say “wow”.

Tyrann Mathieu8T) Tyrann Mathieu

3 Points: Joe 2, Earl 1

Earl: The man formerly known as the Honey Badger is turning into a young superstar. Despite tearing his ACL late in the season he had 80 tackles, five interceptions and proved his versatility by playing corner and safety last season. If he returns from the injury and not miss a step, he’ll move even higher up my personal top 7 list in years to come. The guy is a flat out baller.

Joe: Another multipurpose player… started out as a safety but in the beginning of 2015 season moved to CB due to a lack of players available for the position.  He made Pro Bowl as a safety while playing over 60% of his snaps at CB. Mathieu says, “I don’t see myself as a safety. I don’t see myself as a cornerback. I see myself as a chess piece, a guy that can move around and can play seven different positions. I don’t necessarily want to be slotted as either or.”  In 2015 he had 180 solo tackles; 2 sacks, 8 INTS (tied with Peters for League lead) and a pick six.  Injuries may hurt the dude down the road; already has had a torn ACL and LCL as a rookie in 2013 and a torn ACL in 2015 missing the last 2 games of the season.

Patrick Peterson8T) Patrick Peterson

David, 3 Points: I’ll be honest. I wanted the Panthers to take PP first overall instead of Cam. No wonder I’m not a GM, but Peterson is the leader of that defense and one of the best corners in the game.

9) Harrison Smith

Jim, 2 Points: Just don’t throw the ball his way.  Period.  It’s a mistake every time.

10T) Jerrell Freeman

Jim, 1 Point: He used to be a pass play specialist.  This last year running backs figured out he had been practicing for them too.

10T) Marcus Peters

Joe, 1 Point: As a rookie CB in 2015 had 8 INT (tied with Mathieu for league lead), 2 pick six, a forced fumble.

10T) Paul Posluszny

David, 1 Point Always a sneaky-good player on a team that tends to suck on defense. The man is a tackling machine, but doesn’t have much help around him. I’m taking him over Josh Norman, not because he’s no longer a Panther, but Norman hasn’t done it year in and year out.

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