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Drafting All Pros: Interior Defensive Linemen

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Today we continue our series looking where top talent is drafted. We move to the defensive side of the ball. Our definition of top talent means a player was on at least one AP All Pro first or second team since 2010.

I am not a big fan of the way All Pro teams are set on the defensive side of the ball. They have spots at defensive tackle, defensive end, and outside linebacker, but those titles carry wildly different responsibilities depending on the team's base defense. With that in mind, I am making this category for interior defensive linemen types. These are players who would either play on the defense line in a base 3-4 or would play defensive tackle in a 4-3.

Player Round Pick
N. Suh 1 2
G. McCoy 1 3
M. Dareus 1 3
J. Smith 1 4
R. Seymour 1 6
J. Watt 1 11
D. Poe 1 11
H. Ngata 1 12
F. Cox 1 12
V. Wilfork 1 21
M. Wilkerson 1 30
C. Campbell 2 50
J. Casey 3 77
G. Atkins 4 120
Kyle Williams 5 134

Average pick:33

Median pick:12

What sticks out?

There are several things I find interesting here. There are not many defensive systems built around players like these. These are the guys who do a lot of the dirty work. They have to constantly fight off double teams so their stats are frequently not eye-popping. (This also should make you appreciate what Watt does even more.) Teams are still willing to invest premium resources in these guys.

These guys frequently take on guards, who seem to be at a much lower premium. Teams either value interior defensive linemen more, are better at identifying the top talent, or a little of both. It also seems like there is emphasis placed on players who can contribute against the run. There are a number of players on this list known better for being run stuffers than pass rushers. It makes sense. The trenches are the place to run effectively. Even as the league puts more and more emphasis on passing, teams are willing to make big investments to find top tier guys on the interior to stop them.