5. Jared Allen has been a force in the NFL ever since he entered the league. He has only had two seasons in which he didn’t reach double-digit sacks. After his monster performance in 2011, registering his career-best 22 sacks and a Pro Bowl he established himself as one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. Allen was fifth in the league with 12 sacks, it’s just amazing how consistent he is year in and out. He is the MVP on the defensive side for the Minnesota Vikings, and why he is number five on this list.
4. Elvis Dumervil is the fourth player on this list after lots of time of thinking because of how many talented people play the position. Many could argue that Allen is better than Dumervil, just put yourself in my position it’s a tough place to be. Dumervil made it here because of the season he put together last year. He had 11 sacks and forced six fumbles. His ability to cause turnovers is why he is number four on my list. Turnovers usually determine the winner in football games, and the Denver Broncos won a lot of games because of them. The Ravens got themselves a heck of a player to play next to Haloti Ngata, the tandem will be one of the best.
3. Geno Atkins in his third season became a run stuffing sacking turnover machine, he does it all. Atkins’ had 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles improving by 5 sacks and doubling his forced fumbles total. He jumps snaps quickly and throws linemen around like rag dolls. While his production might go down because of double teams that will open up opportunities for his teammates which is what great players do. Only 25 years old expect Atkins to dominate despite double teams for many years to come and sign a hefty contract.
2. Cameron Wake of the Miami Dolphins is one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the NFL. He sacked opposing quarterbacks 15 times, the second most in the league and forced three fumbles. One trait all these defensive lineman have is their ability to find themselves in the opponents backfield so quickly. With the Dolphins drafting Dion Jordan out of Oregon their defensive line could be one of the best if Jordan can hold up to par with his expectations. Expect another double-digit sack season for this monster.
1. J.J. Watt is undoubtedly the best defensive lineman in the NFL. He was first in the league in combined tackles with 81, first in sacks with 20.5 and forced three fumbles. His game is so versatile, he doesn’t even have to rush the quarterback to make an impact. He can just stick his long arms up in the air and deflect passes which he did all season long. Watt deflected 16 passes a league high for defensive lineman. Only 24 years of age he has the potential to be one of the best of all time. This is why he is number one on my list.
Honorable Mentions: Haloti Ngata, Vince Wilfork, Calais Campbell, Julius Peppers, Chris Clemons, John Abraham, Charles Johnson, Aldon Smith