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Jul. 19, 2019 - Michael Stewart

Top 3 Most Important Defensive Positions in Football

Introduction: A few weeks back, we took a look at the top 3 positions in football on offense and got some feedback (good and bad). This week as promised, let’s take a look at my top 3 most important defensive positions in football. Keep in mind, my findings are based off the way today’s game is played and how these positions impact the outcome of the game.

  1. Pass Rusher: This could be considered an outside linebacker or a defensive end. Someone who has a very high skill set of rushing the passer and causing havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Nearly every successful team has at least one pass rusher if not more; which is why they are the highest paid defensive players in the NFL. In today’s game, passing seems to be at the fore front and the league has evolved offensively to provide more excitement to the fan base. Elite pass rushers such as: Dee Ford, Melvin Ingram, Frank Clark, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Calais Campbell, Demarcus Lawrence, Cameron Jordan, Joey Bosa and Danielle Hunter have all established themselves as premier edge rushers. The importance of an elite pass rusher not only helps maintain order against teams from piling up points, but also generates that anticipation of sacking a quarterback; which is viewed by many fans as a highlight moment in the game.
  2. Defensive Tackle: Despite the NFL becoming more of a passing game, you still need to run the football and establish a productive running game to make the passing game work. Having a very productive Defensive Tackle who can not only stuff the run, but also collapse the pocket around the quarterback is vital. There are only a few defensive tackles who can do both and they are Simon Fletcher, Aaron Donald, J.J Watt, Akiem Hicks, Leonard Williams, Jonathan Allen and Cameron Heyward. The importance of having an anchor in the middle of the defensive line should and will always be importance for any team looking to advance in the playoffs.
  3. Cornerback: The cornerback has and will always be a major cog in any team’s defensive machine. The cornerback is essentially the last line of defense against wide receivers and must maintain extreme composure as they are literally on their own. Although their main responsibility is defending the pass, they also need to help support against the run; while maintaining awareness against the pass. Only the elite cornerbacks can do both well such as: Stephon Gilmore, Jalen Ramsey, Chris Harris, Patrick Peterson, Tre’Davious White, Casey Hayward and Marshon Lattimore. In the NFL, where passing the football has increased over the last decade, the value and responsibility of the cornerback can’t be overlooked.

 

Final Thoughts: Very similar to my list on offense, I’m sure there will be many who will disagree with my list and have their own list with possible valid reasons. In my opinion; these three positions are absolutely vital for any team to be a legitimate contender in the NFL year after year. Each one compliments the other and like a domino effect, if one fails; the others could as well.