Continuing my top 10 rankings with the defensive line. There are some new additions this year, have a look.
For the 2020 season there is definitely a shakeup in the top 10 defensive lineman rankings. In 2019 there were some youngsters who really stepped up and firmly placed themselves in the elite company. There was also a drat pick this year that is considered a generational talent, and he makes the cut before I even see him play. Let’s take a look how the top 10 defensive lineman rankings shake down.
1) Danielle Hunter – Minnesota Vikings
2019 Stats: 70 tackles (52 solo), 15 tackles for a loss, 14.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and 22 QB hits
Danielle Hunter just finished up his second straight season of elite production of 70 plus tackles and 14.5 sacks. Hunter is only 26 years old this year and is a cornerstone for the Vikings. Not only is he routinely near the top of the league in tackles at the defensive line position, but he is also near the top in sacks as well. Hunter wreaks havoc on opposing lineman and should for many years to come.
2) Myles Garrett – Cleveland Browns
2019 Stats: 29 tackles (20 solo), 11 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 18 QB hits (10 games)
Was Myles Garrett an idiot in 2019? Of course he was and deserved his suspension but has now been reinstated. He averaged a sack and a tackle for loss per game when active and is always in opposing teams’ backfields. He has 30.5 career sacks in 37 games as well as 32 tackles for a loss. Garrett has a lot to prove to people this year after his character has come into question. I fully expect him to let his football do the talking.
3) Aaron Donald – Los Angeles Rams
2019 Stats: 48 tackles (29 solo), 20 tackles for a loss, 12.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a safety and 24 QB hits
Aaron Donald has been a pro bowler every season of his career and a first team All-Pro for five of those six seasons. Donald has also been a multiple time Defensive Player of the Year. He has 72 sacks and 117 tackles for a loss in six seasons and is a nuisance for opposing teams. He gets game planned against without proper help. Donald will need everything he can get out of Leonard Floyd in order for him to reach the levels he reached in 2018.
4) Joey Bosa – Los Angeles Chargers
2019 Stats: 67 tackles (47 solo), 18 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 31 QB hits
Joey Bosa has been a consistent menace behind the line of scrimmage since his rookie season. Yet he keeps getting better having set career highs in tackles for loss and QB hits while falling 3 short of his career high in tackles and 1 shy in sacks. Joey Bosa is not discussed among the top of the elite, but he quietly is. It is all Garrett, Hunter, Donald, Baby Bosa, Chase Young and Josh Allen. Joey Bosa belongs in the upper echelon of defensive lineman.
5) Nick Bosa – San Francisco 49ers
2019 Stats: 47 tackles (32 solo), 16 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks, 2 passes defended, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 25 QB hits
Nick Bosa is the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year and he was well worth the hype he had leading up to the 2019 draft. He finished with 16 tackles for loss which was good 5th most in the NFL and added an extra 25 QB hits. Anybody who watched the 2019 playoffs saw how disruptive Nick Bosa really is. He finished the playoffs last season with 15 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 5 QB hits in three games. Had the 49ers won the Super Bowl there is a chance that he could have been the MVP.
6) Josh Allen – Jacksonville Jaguars
2019 Stats: 44 tackles (31 solo), 11 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 23 QB hits
Josh Allen had an incredibly productive rookie season and was able to put up these huge numbers while only playing on 60% of the team’s defensive snaps. He was used in a rotation with Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. For 2020 Calais Campbell has been shipped off to the the Baltimore Ravens and Allen should be the one to benefit the most. I expect Allen to put his athleticism on display and be one of the most disruptive defensive lineman in the league.
7) Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints
2019 Stats: 53 tackles (37 solo), 15 tackles for a loss, 15.5 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 fumble recovery and 25 QB hits
Cameron Jordan has been in the top 10 defensive lineman rankings for about eight straight season now. Jordan has had an amazing career with the Saints averaging 58 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 10.75 sacks, 5.5 passes defended and 21 QB hits per season over those eight seasons. He is a perennial DE1 and actually had a career high in sacks in 2019, his 9th season in the league. He will be at the in the top 10 defensive lineman rankings again in 2020.
8) Sam Hubbard – Cincinnati Bengals
2019 Stats: 76 tackles (46 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 13 QB hits
Sam Hubbard broke out in 2019 become a starter opposite of Carlos Dunlap for the Bengals. Many expected Carl Lawson to be the guy to take over in 2019 but he battled injuries and Hubbard ran with the job. Hubbard’s 76 tackles in 2019 was the most by a defensive end in the NFL. Add in the fact that he set a career high with sacks at 8.5 and you see he belongs in the top 10 defensive lineman rankings.
9) Chase Young – Washington Redskins
2019 Stats: N/A
Am I crazy for putting a rookie in the top 10 defensive lineman rankings before even seeing him hit the field in the NFL? Maybe I am but have you seen Chase Young play. Nick Bosa was the Defensive rookie of the Year in 2019 and Chase Young should be even better. Simply because I have not seen him in the NFL is the reason he is only #9 in my rankings. Young will likely be in a timeshare in 2020. The Redskins defensive line is stacked but that means he will see more one on one match-ups than he would on other teams. Young is going to eat in the NFL.
10) Maxx Crosby – Las Vegas Raiders
2019 Stats: 47 tackles (36 solo), 16 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, 4 passes defended, 4 forced fumbles and 14 QB hits
The Raiders drafted Clelin Ferrell 4th overall in the 2019 draft but it was their 4th round pick (106th overall) Maxx Crosby that ended up being their stud selection. Many would say that Crosby was snubbed for Defensive Rookie of the Year and he may have been. Crosby was a force to be reckoned with in 2019, routinely getting to the quarterback. In the first three weeks of the season Crosby did not see more than 39% of the teams snaps. After week four he saw no less than 71% of the teams snaps and was a beast. He is the team’s best defensive end moving forward.
Players who just missed the top 10 defensive lineman rankings: J.J. Watt, Frank Clark, Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue
These are my top 10 defensive lineman rankings to start 2020. They are sure to change in season as some other players could easily stake their claim. Be sure to check out my linebacker rankings here and my defensive back rankings will come shortly.