Top Ten NFL Defensive Players for 2021

Defense wins championships. The NFL is flooded with top tier talent just like every other professional sports league in the world. However, with the game turning into such an offensive focused approach the defensive stars usually go a bit under the radar. Fantasy Football has made the average fan focus only on stats and touchdowns. This is why the league is the top dog across the other professional leagues such as the NBA, NHL, and MLB. When the fall weather turns to winter and the regular season becomes the playoffs, the defensive side of the ball all of a sudden becomes the most important part of a team. At each and every point in a Championship run or even a playoff run a team needs their defense to step up and make a stop to finalize the win. Let’s get started on the top ten defensive players in the game in my opinion.

Top Ten List

1.) Aaron Donald

The top ten defensive players list starts with the clear cut best player in the NFL. Donald is able to absolutely wreck game plans for offenses due to the simple fact he demands a double team and is usually creating pressure up the middle for Quarterbacks which is extremely rare. Donald has won three out of the last four DPOY Awards (2017, 2018, 2020) and looks to be in contention again in 2021.

2.) Myles Garrett

The 2017 number one overall pick has done everything to live up to the hype. When on the field he is basically impossible to block and continues to let his statistics speak for themselves. With a total of 35.5 Sacks in the past three seasons, Garrett is hopeful to help the Browns reach even deeper in the playoffs this upcoming season.

3.) Darius Leonard

The best tackling linebacker in the league. This man is everywhere. Since his rookie season where he was responsible for 163 total tackles he has not slowed down a bit. In just three seasons Leonard has a total of 416 tackles, 15 sacks, and 7 interceptions. He joined Fred Warner in 2020 for their first All-Pro appearance and the sky is the limit for this young playmaker.

4.) TJ Watt

Watt was able to follow right into his brother JJ’s foot steps and become one of the premiere defensive players in the league. TJ was able to lead the NFL in sacks in 2020 with 15 in total. Expect more of the same from TJ in 2021 and without a doubt should be a top contender for the DPOY Award.

5.) Budda Baker

The do it all safety has quickly made a name for himself in the NFL. He has stacked up over 100 tackles per season over his last three years in the league. Baker is coming off of his best season yet with 118 total tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and one forced fumble. He is my undisputed best Safety in the league!

6.) Jalen Ramsey

The best trash-talker in the game and easily the best zone cornerback in the league. The skills are top-notch but his knowledge of the game and what the other offense wants to do is what brings his game to a Hall of Fame level. Ramsey is able to shut down half of the field and make it is extremely difficult for offenses to operate.

7.) Fred Warner

Like Baker, Fred has almost surged his way to being one of the NFL’s best players. Coming out of BYU in 2018, he has racked up over 120 total tackles per year on average and is coming off of his first All-Pro appearance in just his third season in the NFL. Warner is the ultimate team Captain. He is able to make plays, call out the defensive huddle, and impact the game. He can play both the run and the pass extraordinarily great.

8.) Bobby Wagner

What can’t Bobby do? He has been the best linebacker each and every season since Luke Kuechly went to retirement. Fred Warner and Darius Leonard are listed just a smidge above Wagner. This is due to being younger and faster. But never doubt what Wagner can do to keep his team in contention to win a game. Consistency is what he does best playing in all 16 games in four of the last five seasons. Add in a jaw dropping five straight First Team All-Pro appearances.

9.) Devin White

If you aren’t too sure about Devin White, please rewatch the 2020 Super Bowl. He was all over the field all night long and is a major reason the Chiefs were held without a Touchdown. White had 12 total tackles and an interception in the Super Bowl. Coming off of an amazing 2020 season with 140 total tackles and 9 sacks there is nothing he cannot do on the football field. White’s third season should be special.

10.) Stephon Gilmore

The top ten defensive players list ends with Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore is the only player in the last four seasons to win a DPOY Award other than Aaron Donald who is #1 on our list today.  Set to turn 31 this upcoming season, he is the defining piece for the Patriots to have an elite defense in 2021. The Patriots have to keep him around if they want to play some postseason football later this year.


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-Fred O’Brien (@FOBSportsNFL)


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