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NFL Top 100 players of 2021: Top five defensive players

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns
Jalen Sherman

NFL Network wrapped up their highly anticipated Top 100 this past weekend, announcing the top 10 in a two-hour special. Among the top 10, two Defensive Player of the Year candidates made an appearance.

Defense wins championships -- as we saw in this year's Super Bowl -- and a multitude of players on the defensive side of the ball saw their rankings rise from a season ago.

We'll take a look at the top five defensive players ranked on NFL's Top 100.

#5 - Xavien Howard

Atlanta Falcons v Miami Dolphins
Atlanta Falcons v Miami Dolphins

Xavien Howard led the Miami Dolphins and NFL in interceptions a season ago with 10. He also added 51 tackles and an incredible 20 passes defensed in 2020. The 27-year-old ranked 17th on the top 100.

Howard has risen to become one of the premier cornerbacks in the league. With the Dolphins revamping their roster and looking to contend, he'll be a pivotal piece in the success of the franchise moving forward.

#4 - Myles Garrett

New York Giants v Cleveland Browns
New York Giants v Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett, my personal pick for Defensive Player of the Year, single-handedly terrorizes opposing offensive lines with his dominant, intellectual approach to the game. Garrett totaled 12 sacks in 2020 and, as a result, ranks as the number 16 player on the list.

He'll continue to wreak havoc as a pass-rusher this upcoming NFL season as the Browns appear to be favorites to claim the AFC North title.

#3 - Jalen Ramsey

Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks
Wild Card Round - Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks

The best cornerback in the league was granted the 13th spot. Lockdown corner Jalen Ramsey recorded 44 tackles, nine passes defended, and one interception. His ability to completely shut off one side of the field completely changes every coaching staff's gameplan when they face the Los Angeles Rams.

Players around the league are aware of Ramsey's tremendous value to the team once he takes the field. His numbers may not suggest it, due to QB's fear of throwing his way, but the All-Pro is the best in the game.

#2 - T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers v Arizona Cardinals
Pittsburgh Steelers v Arizona Cardinals

T.J. Watt just completed the best season of his career in which he led the NFL in sacks with 15 in as many games played. The Steelers' ferocious, sack-happy defense is predicated on Watt's enforcing nature.

Because of that, he placed number nine and Pittsburgh will continue to utilize his skillset as their point of attack. Watt, 26, added 53 tackles and 23 tackles for a loss to his stat line last season. That being said, the runner-up for DPOY isn't satisfied at all.

#1 - Aaron Donald

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams
Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams

The three-time NFL DPOY was once again ranked as the highest defensive player on the list after yet another award. Aaron Donald ranked second on NFL's Top 100 and there's no argument to refute that.

The future Hall of Famer compiled a legendary season in which he recorded 45 combined tackles, four forced fumbles and 14 tackles for loss. He'll continue to add to his incredulous resume as the Rams look to contend for the Lombardi Trophy in the 2021 NFL season.


Edited by Prem Deshpande

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