Top 10 NFL Defensive Tackles of All-Time (10-6)

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A list of the greatest Defensive Tackles to ever play the game in respect to their eras.

It’s about time we show the big boys up front some love and break down the greatest defensive tackles to ever play the game. Note, this is a list for 4-3 three-technique defensive tackles, so 3-4 nose tackles will not be considered for this ranking.

10. Buck Buchanan

Buck Buchanan was overlooked on the dominating Kansas City Chiefs defense of the 1960s and early 1970s by teammates Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell. However, he was still one of the best at his position to ever play the game.

You don’t see Mean Joe Greene getting docked points for playing with Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, and Mel Blount, so neither should Buchanan. He was selected four straight times as a first-team All-Pro from 1966-1969.

Unofficially recorded 70.5 sacks during his 13-year career with the Chiefs, helping them win Super Bowl IV against the Minnesota Vikings. Buchanan was overlooked his whole career because of other greats, Joe Greene, Alan Page, Bob Lilly, and Merlin Olsen, that dominated his time period.

However, all of those four players will be on this list as well, and Buchanan shouldn’t be left off of it just because he played in the greatest era for defensive tackles ever.

9. Cortez Kennedy

Cortez Kennedy stood 6-foot-3-inches and weighed 305 pounds with a lightning-quick first step that helped him total 58.0 career sacks in 11 seasons. The tape on Kennedy at times doesn’t even seem real with a man his size being as agile as a linebacker 50 pounds lighter.

Kennedy could explode into the backfield and create havoc or stack and read at the line of scrimmage, shedding the block at the last second to make the tackle. Kennedy was a three-time first-team All-Pro from 1992-1994, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.

His 1992 season was one of the greatest ever for a defensive tackle totaling 14.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, and 92 total tackles. He even finished fifth in the MVP voting on a team that went 2-14.

The domination of Kennedy both against the run and creating push rush from the interior couldn’t be ignored, proven by his Defensive Player of the Year on a team that had the second overall pick.

Kennedy was a member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade first team, beating out Hall of Famers Warren Sapp and Bryant Young.

8. John Randle

John Randle was one of the craziest and loud players to ever step onto an NFL field. A mic ‘d-up legend was known for his non-stop trash-talking and warrior-style eye black. But don’t let that fool you. Mr. Randle could back up every ounce of his trash-talking and more.

Randle has 137.5 career sacks which is tied for 10th all-time; no other defensive tackle is in the top 20 all time. Randle had the best finesse pass-rushing moves of any defensive tackle to ever play the game.

Once the offensive linemen overplayed the speed they would be jacked up by Randle who played with exceptional pad level. Randle had nine double-digit sack seasons which is almost unheard of from the defensive tackle position.

Randle was a six-time first team All-Pro from 1993-1998, once leading the league in sacks and runner up for Defensive Player of the Year in 1998. Randle was also known for his tomahawk chop that caused 29 career-forced fumbles.

7. Randy White

One could argue that Randy White is the most athletic defensive tackle of all time. White played defensive end in college, before being asked to move in size in the Cowboys flex defense as a rookie.

Then, due to injury, Tom Landry asked White to play middle linebacker, something that no one player on the list could have done. White was a seven-time first-team All-Pro, finished top five in Defensive Players of the Year five times, and added another fourth-place finish in 1984.

White totaled 111.0 career sacks, recording double-digit sacks in five separate seasons. White also added a Super Bowl MVP to his legacy in Super Bowl XII after helping the Dallas Cowboys win their second Super Bowl in Franchise history.

Nicknamed the “Manster” for being a half-man half-monster, White had more finesse than anyone in his era as well. One of the masters of the swim move as his go-to pass rushing moves his speed and athleticism spelt trouble for anyone standing in his way.

6. Warren Sapp

Warren Sapp was recruited at tight end by the University of Miami before switching to defensive tackle, where he would go on to dominate the NFL. Sapp’s athleticism was on full display during his career totaling 96.5 sacks.

Sapp was a four-time first-team All-Pro from 1999-2002, where he would end that dominating stretch by leading one of the greatest defenses in NFL history to a Super Bowl title. He also won Defensive Player of the Year in 1999 and finished third the following year.

The dominating Buccaneers’ defense was so successful because of their Tampa 2 defensive scheme. This scheme can only work by putting pressure on the quarterback with four pass rushers.

Sapp was able to elevate the defense to new heights by constantly requiring double teams allowing his other teammates to rush one-on-one. Even with being doubled-teamed, Sapp established himself as one of the greatest pass-rushing defensive tackles ever ranking

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