Editor’s note: Players are ranked by NFL performance, not college performance
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (BVM) – Nick Saban has had plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball. But who is the greatest? Here we will look at the best defensive players to play for Saban and the Crimson Tide.
- Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos
After just one season, Surtain is already one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Since he was just a rookie, he doesn’t have any accolades. If he plays as well as he did when he was 21 years old, one can imagine he’ll be near the top of this list after a couple of years.
- Trevon Diggs, CB, Dallas Cowboys
This one is complicated. Surtain is better than Diggs, but his additional year of experience and accolades gives him the edge. Even though Diggs allowed an absurd amount of yards last season, he was still the league’s interception leader. This would give him Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. If Diggs wants to move up on this list, he’ll have to lock up receivers consistently.
- Jonathan Allen, DL, Washington Commanders
From 2018-20, Washington defensive lineman Jonathan Allen was above average at his position. He broke out last season after having a career-high nine sacks and making the Pro Bowl. Hopefully, he can get back there this fall.
- Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills, and Jacksonville Jaguars
Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus started nearly every game in Buffalo from 2011-16. Dareus made it to two Pro Bowls and earned All-Pro honors in 2014. That season, he finished with 10 sacks and 12 tackles for loss (both career highs). While in Jacksonville (2017-19), Dareus was part of the Jaguars’ elite defense that included six Pro Bowlers.
- Eddie Jackson, S, Chicago Bears
In 2018, Bears’ safety Eddie Jackson was one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. The All-Pro had the league’s second-most interceptions with six, and he returned two for touchdowns (most in the NFL). Jackson is poised to return to his Pro Bowl level after two years of injuries. However, since he is 28-years-old, age may soon be a factor.
- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Baltimore Ravens
Marlon Humphrey may currently be better than almost every player on this list, but he is too young to be considered all-time. At just 26 years old, Humphrey has already been a two-time Pro Bowler, including an All-Pro season in 2019. He has only been the starting cornerback for the last three seasons.
- C.J. Mosley, LB, New York Jets
From 2014-2018 (his first five seasons), C.J. Mosley made the Pro Bowl four times. The current New York Jet linebacker is this high on the list because of his consistency. Throughout his first five seasons, Mosley was near the top of the NFL in total tackles each season.
- Dont’a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots L
Even though Dont’a Hightower’s regular season accolades aren’t as good as Nos. 4-7; his playoff accolades are why he’s ranked so high. The three-time Super Bowl champion’s biggest play of his career came in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. Hightower strip-sacked Matt Ryan midway through the fourth quarter to give the Patriots the ball back down 28-12. That would increase New England’s momentum immensely as they completed the historic comeback in overtime.
- Landon Collins, S, Washington Commanders
Even though Landon Collins hasn’t done much in the last couple of years, he still earns this spot. From 2016-18, he was a Giant among the Giants. During these seasons, Collins was a three-time Pro Bowler and earned All-Pro honors in 2016. That same season, he finished second in the NFL tackles and tied for third in interceptions with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Pittsburgh Steelers
After just four years, Minkah Fitzpatrick is considered one of the best defensive backs in the NFL. The two-time Pro Bowler (and two-time All-Pro) has been one of the leaders of the Pittsburgh defense since he was traded there in 2019. At 25 years old, Fitzpatrick is only getting better.