I will admit rating defensive tackles is very difficult. What stat do you use? Rushing defense? Most defensive tackles, especially in a 3-4, are run stuffers and contribute very little "obvious" value to that stat. They may jam up the line and close up the holes, leaving the tackling for the linebackers, but how do you measure that? That's not to say they don't make tackles. They do, but just not as much as a linebacker, especially in a 3-4. Defensive tackles need to be watched in order to differentiate them. Good defensive tackles force offensive linemen in a direction they didn't want to go. If they're really good, they may get into the backfield and threaten the QB. But most of them are immobile enough in an "open" backfield that even a flat footed Tom Brady could get out of their way if looking.
While this was tough, there were some clear standouts. My ratings after the jump.
- Kris Jenkins (NYJ) - Kris Jenkins is an absolute beast. At 6-4 365 pounds, he's like a mountain on the move. Can you imagine someone at this position bigger than our Vince Wilfork? Yeah, it's Kris. And he's fast, too. But it takes smarts to handle this job and Jenkins has the ability to make plays and move offenses where he wants them to be. That sounds corny, but watch the guy. Things happen around him and it's BECAUSE of him that they do. Except for two of his eight seasons, he's been an ironman. However, I wouldn't mind him losing that ironman title, mind you.
Vince Wilfork (NE) - PAY...VINCE...WILFORK!! Any Yahoo who doesn't believe Wilfor deserves a renegotiated contract isn't paying attention. Yes, he boycotted OTA's, but our very own organization netted three defensive linemen in the draft! If both of those weren't a shot across the bow, I don't know what was. Vince isn't looking for Haynesworth money, but he is seeking a "comfortable contract". At any rate, when a guy like Colts center Jeff Saturday calls Wilfork one of the best defensive tackles in the business, you know he's got the goods. I consider Saturday one of the best centers in the game, so his praise for Wilfork says a lot. For a 3-4 DT, Wilfork has some impressive tackling stats. Adding Ron Brace to the fold only strengthens this position, possibly giving Wilfork some rest. Was Brace added competition or there as a backup? We could argue the ratio of each, I'm sure.
- Marcus Stroud (BUF) - At 6-6 310 pounds, Marcus is a tall, large man. Could he use a little more meat? Who knows, but his tackle and sack stats are impressive, to say the least. He may be just the right size for a 4-3 DT, though. As part of a DT duo, hee was fearsome at Jacksonville. I expect nothing less in Buffalo. Considered one of the key players on Buffalo's defense, his leadership role will be an important one.
- Jason Ferguson (MIA) - With 302 career tackles in 12 years, our man Vince Wilfork is only 40 behind him with five years under his belt. While not a difference maker, Ferguson is a serviceable defensive tackle. Age and inconsistency are a factor for Jason and I think he's reaching the end of his career. He will never be a star, but will always be there for his team, grinding it out in the pig pile. Could you ask for anything more?