The D-line may be overlooked since the NFL is all about the third level, but they still can be critical to teams trying to make a run for the Lombardi.
There are 32 different defensive lines in the NFL, and each has a different scheme or build. With the draft coming up, it’s important to know where every team stands at each position. This is a relatively deep draft for teams looking to bulk up their front line, so the lower ranked teams on this list will more than likely be looking to do just that.
32. Seattle Seahawks
In a previous article, I wrote that the Seahawks absolutely need Jadeveon Clowney. This ranking is pretty much re-affirming that position. Seattle has no big pieces and they really need to draft an impactful edge. Otherwise, they should draft an interior guy to go alongside Jarran Reed and re-sign Clowney.
31. New England Patriots
The Patriots have successfully let almost every player that helped them establish a great defense last year, walk. They have Lawrence Guy, John Simon, and Deatrich Wise. They need some work.
30. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are another team that failed to retain a number of pieces that made up a rather solid defensive line. Kawann Short is still a nice piece at tackle, and Brian Burns is a promising young edge. They need another edge and help in the middle for Short.
29. Miami Dolphins
What I like about Miami is you know all of those players are going to improve, and they will be adding to the young roster in this draft. Brian Flores will, more than likely, spend some of his massive amount of picks bulking up that defensive front. Talented linemen like Christian Wilkins, Emanuel Ogbah, and Shaq Lawson give this unit a foundation to build on.
28. Las Vegas Raiders
Depth and youth are what keep this defensive line from being lower on the list. They’re deep on the interior, and promising players like Maxx Crosby, Clelin Ferrell, and Maurice Hurst provide a foundation similar to Miami’s.
27. New York Jets
Perhaps this unit is really too high on this list, but I really like Quinnen Williams. They really need edge rushers. However, they could get by on the interior with Williams and Steve McLendon
26. Arizona Cardinals
Chandler Jones is the only thing that makes this defensive line dangerous at all. His presence on the edge is rather thankless. They need an edge rusher opposite Jones and a few pieces on the inside to take over for Corey Peters
25. Houston Texans
J.J. Watt is a beast, regardless of the fact that he’s been through injury after injury. Not to mention, adding Timmy Jernigan to the interior is always a good move. This team needs another edge guy to replace trading Clowney last year, and it needs another interior guy to truly take over. Although, Carlos Watkins and Eddie Vanderdoes could get the job done.
24. New York Giants
I’m a big fan of the interior. Leonard Williams is a monster and Dalvin Tomlinson is a good piece, but they absolutely need edge rushers. The dream would be to end up with Chase Young, but that’s a definite stretch.
23. Tennessee Titans
A good unit turns decent with this team getting rid of Jurrell Casey. However, I do feel that Harold Landry will continue to do well on the edge, and Vic Beasley is due for another great season. Add another inside piece, and this unit will be back to dominating.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars
Another team that’s really good on the edge with Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue (who will probably be traded) but needs some help on the inside. Taven Bryan is a young DT who just needs a good complimentary player. The Jags would be wise to draft one in the first two rounds.
21. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys lost Robert Quinn, so DeMarcus Lawrence is the only real edge rusher on this team, and a really good one at that. Adding Defensive tackles Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy really beefs up this line. Otherwise, it would’ve had ranked 30th.
20. Detroit Lions
Adding Danny Shelton to take over Damon Harrison’s spot was a good move, but they still need more help on the inside. Trey Flowers is great against the run and pass, but they do need someone to help on the opposite side. Da’Shawn Hand is a solid young edge, but if they have a shot at Chase Young, the choice is clear between the two.
19. Green Bay Packers
I’m a big fan of the Smiths. Za’Darius and Preston tear it up in the pass-rushing game. Kenny Clark has the run taken care of, for the most part, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another interior linemen to help him out.
18. Buffalo Bills
The Bills had a great defense last year, and part of that was due to their solid front line. Rookie, Ed Oliver, was a force on the interior and Jerry Hughes has been a consistent option on the edge for years now. Mario Addison and Star Lotulelei add to a good unit. There’s no real need for improvement, but having another edge guy that wasn’t as old as Lorenzo Alexander would be a plus.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
This defensive line would be higher if they didn’t lose Javon Hargrave. Still, a unit that consists of Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Stephon Tuitt is more than formidable. Another edge rusher or another 3-4 end would catapult this team into the top 10.
16. Indianapolis Colts
One player is responsible for this team not being lower: DeForest Buckner. He was a huge acquisition. Justin Houston on the edge is still deadly as well. I really like this line. Just one more interior linemen or another edge, to make up for letting Jabaal Sheard walk, and they’ll be nearly unstoppable.
15. Minnesota Vikings
I’d consider gaining Michael Pierce in return for losing Linval Joseph an upgrade, but they still need another 4-3 tackle. Also, someone has to fill in for Everson Griffen to edge rush opposite Danielle Hunter. They possess two superstar pieces, but two other all-down starters need to be established to make this front line truly elite.
14. Cincinnati Bengals
In years past, I would have this team easily in the top ten. Yet, age is keeping this team out. Geno Atkins, while still dominant on the inside, is aging and can’t handle the interior on his own. Hopefully, D.J. Reader is the answer to that question. Carlos Dunlap is getting up there in age as well, but once Sam Hubbard develops into an every down starter, this unit will be elite once again.
13. Washington Redskins
A lot of people might feel I have the ‘Skins too high on this ranking, but I feel it’s one of the most complete defensive lines in the league. Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis on the interior shows some promise as they continue to develop as a crew. Ryan Kerrigan is still causing problems on the edge. All they need is his successor and another wrecker on the opposite edge and they’re in the upper echelon.
12. Atlanta Falcons
I like the promise this line shows. Adding Dante Fowler to fill in for Vic Beasley was, more than likely, an upgrade. Grady Jarrett is still a monster defensive tackle. Tak McKinley still has some room to grow, but is already making plays on the edge. If they acquire another tackle to take Allen Bailey’s spot, this team will have a great line.
11. New Orleans Saints
The only reason New Orleans is this low is because the teams ahead of them simply have better players at certain spots. Tackle is the most significant. While there aren’t many 4-3 ends better than Cameron Jordan, there are quite a few that are better than Marcus Davenport. On top of that, there are many DT’s who trump both Sheldon Rankins and Malcolm Brown. Who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise me and be better than their ranking suggests
10. San Francisco 49ers
I had trouble with the top ten. San Fran was one of those teams that gave me fits while I was putting together this list. If it weren’t for the departure of Buckner, they’d more than likely be number one. However, trading him was a big blow. With Nick Bosa and Dee Ford on the edges, along with Solomon Thomas on the inside, this team is just one defensive tackle away from being the best in the league once more.
9. Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald. I mean, need I say more? Retaining Michael Brockers is always nice. Signing Leonard Floyd is also a nice addition. They only need another true edge rusher and they’ll be even more dominant. If you’re asking why they’re this high, I’ll again give you the most logical explanation: Aaron Donald. No further questions.
8. Kansas City Chiefs
There are plenty of reasons to rank them higher and, some will say, plenty of reasons to rank them lower. Here is the way I see it. They won a Super Bowl with this line. Chris Jones dominated the interior, Frank Clark killed the edge, and Alex Okafor, among other role players, contributed well to fill it out. If Okafor can take over as an every-down edge and they can find another defensive tackle, then this unit is arguably top of the list.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Some will argue I have them too low, but I want another defensive tackle to compliment the newly-acquired Linval Joseph before they earn a spot in the top five. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are a deadly tandem of edge rushers, and nothing will change that. This is a line to be feared.
6. Denver Broncos
Von Miller and Bradley Chubb (when he’s back and healthy) makes up arguably the best edge-rushing duo in the NFL. They absolutely dominate. The Broncos also retained Shelby Harris, one of the top nose tackles in the league, and traded for Jurrell Casey. Even though they lost Derek Wolfe, this is a line that can stuff the run and rush the pass from all angles
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I love this line. Shaq Barrett and JPP are great edge guys. Shaq is coming off of a career year. Ndamukong Suh is back, and Vita Vea is a young phenom at Tackle. This unit is problematic for the opposition.
4. Baltimore Ravens
If it weren’t for losing Pierce, this team is number one, easily. I loved how they had Pierce and big Brandon Williams on the inside. Nobody could run through it. With the addition of Derek Wolfe, Williams can move back to nose tackle. They also managed to bring in Calais Campbell for a 5th rounder. It was straight robbery. With Judon back on a franchise tag, this defensive front is going to shred the AFC North.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
This front line hasn’t changed much from years past. The Eagles have been a model of consistency since their Super Bowl win in 2018. Fletcher Cox is the best defensive tackle in football. Brandon Graham is a problem on the edge, Derek Barnett is developing well, and they have crazy depth at the tackle position with the addition of Javon Hargrave. This defensive front will continue to dominate.
2. Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett returns. Sheldon Richardson. Adrian Clayborn. Olivier Vernon. Larry Ogunjobi. Sheesh. The only word to describe this defensive line (and roster in general) is loaded. This is the best roster in football. No question.
1. Chicago Bears
The inside is full of nothing but talent. Khalil Mack is on the outside and they added Robert Quinn, who is the best complimentary edge rusher in the game. I don’t have to ramble about this team. If I were a quarterback preparing to face da Bears, I’d make sure to wear my adult diapers before hitting the field. They easily have the best line in football.