Who is the best defensive tackle in the NFL? looking at the esteemed list of the league’s top 10 DT

In the fast-paced world of the NFL, explosive offenses often hit the headlines with their formidable performance. However, that doesn’t mean we should overlook the unsung heroes of the defensive line at all. Defensive tackles hold a crucial spot on the field, serving as the bulwark of any strong defense.

These players often moonlight as heroes to change the aftermath of a match by stifling offenses and creating havoc in the rival’s backfield. With their strength, agility, and strategic prowess, DTs hold an immense impact on the field.

Executives, scouts, and coaches named Aaron Donald the greatest NFL defensive tackle

ESPN surveyed league executives, coaches, scouts, and players as part of their 2023 NFL season preview to determine the 10 best players at 11 different NFL positions, marking the fourth edition of the rankings. They had several ties for some positions which were fixed by additional voting and follow-up calls with the voters.

The 80 voters are told to list their top 10 athletes in a particular position. Following the end of the voting procedure, ESPN compiled the result to finally create a top 10 list based on “composite average and dozens of interviews, with research and film-study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen.”

List of the top 10 defensive tackles in the NFL

As we start the discussion on the esteemed list of the top 10 DTs in the NFL, the question arises: Who holds the title to be the best in the position?
Let’s proceed to the list!

1 Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald

The Los Angeles Rams’ three-time Defensive Player of the Year DT Aaron holds the first place on the list with a record of totaling 89 sacks in 111 games. Despite being limited to 11 games in 2022 due to seemingly ‘never-ending’ injuries, he had turned heads several times and was an All-Pro every year between 2015-21

2 Chris Jones

Chris Jones

After getting picked in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, Jones led his team with 9.0 sacks for the fourth consecutive season. He holds second place with the mark of having a single-game career-high with 3.5 sacks.

3 Jeffery Simmons

Jeffery Simmons

The Tennessee Titans just agreed to a four-year contract extension with Jeffery making him one of the highest-paid defensive tackles in the NFL behind the Rams’ Donald. He came out of another good year having 54 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, and a forced fumble throughout 15 games.

4 Quinnen Williams

Quinnen Williams

The New York Jets DT displayed phenomenal performance in 2022 with a career-high 12 sacks, 55 total tackles, two forced fumbles along with a fumble recovery over 16 contests.

5 Javon Hargrave

Javon Hargrave

The San Francisco 49ers ended the 2022 season with the accolade of being the league’s No. 1 defense. Javon recorded 60 tackles, a career-high 11.0 sacks (fourth amongst all NFL DT), 16 QB hits, 10 tackles-for-loss, two fumble recoveries along with a forced fumble being a starter in 17 games.

6 Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence

The New York Giants DT Lawrence is currently the third highest-paid defensive tackle in the league. He recorded 68 tackles, a team-high 7.5 sacks, and seven tackles for loss throughout 16 games in the last season.

7 DeForest Buckner

DeForest Buckner

Despite the Indianapolis Colts struggling much lately, their Pro Bowler Buckner had been shining brightly on the field by averaging 8.8 sacks per season since 2018.

8 Daron Payne

Daron Payne

The Washington Commanders’ 26-year-old DT recently signed a four-year, $90 million contract extension with the franchise after recording a team-high 11.5 sacks in 2022.

9 Cam Heyward

Cam Heyward

The Pittsburgh Steelers 34-year-old veteran didn’t seem to diminish with age and has been continuing to prove himself holding the record of having 10.5 sacks (2022) for the third time throughout his career as well as back-to-back second seasons of 10 or more sacks.

10 Jonathan Allen

Jonathan Allen

After being drafted by the Washington Commanders in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Allen recorded 329 tackles [195 solo] along with 33.5 sacks and started all 16 games in 2022.

These players have been consistently demonstrating their impact on the field and drew the attention of the league personnel over time. Nevertheless, some other DTs are also doing incredibly well and the list is likely going to be changed in every season.

Who is the best DT according to you?


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Maliha works as a content writer in Sportszion specializing in NFL and NBA. She has completed her graduation and post-graduation, majoring in MIS (Management Information Systems). She loves analyzing sports and keeping fans updated with the latest sport buzzes.


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