After ranking the four NFC West teams in each position group on offense, it is time to now move to the defensive side of the ball. Today in particular we focus on the defensive line. In the division, how should the four teams be ranked based only on their D-line?
Before I share my rankings, it is important to note this is a little bit tougher to do because the Rams and the Seahawks both run 4-3 defenses and the Cardinals and 49ers run a 3-4. There are big differences in how much the defensive line is supposed to produce in terms of numbers. Nonetheless, here are the NFC West defensive line power rankings, noting who all will be sure contributors.
1. St. Louis Rams: Chris Long, Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Nick Fairley, Eugene Sims, William Hayes
St. Louis has all the linemen. They already had perhaps the most formidable from four in the league, and then they signed Fairley. They get sacks in bunches and Donald was one of the league's most exciting rookies. If you watch film at all, you will see him everywhere. St. Louis hasn't done particularly well at some skill positions or the offensive line, but this position group is solid.
2. Seattle Seahawks: Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane, Michael Bennett, Tony McDaniel, Ahtyba Rubin, Demarcus Dobbs
There is a reason why the Seahawks have had one of the league's top defenses over the last few seasons. They are strong up front, strong in the middle of the field and strong in he secondary. This is one talented group.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Frostee Rucker, Corey Peters, Calais Campbell, Cory Redding, Matt Shaughnessy, Alameda Ta'amu, Ed Stinson
Even with a third place ranking, this is a very solid unit. They have an elite player in Campbell and lots of experience. In this case, being third does not mean bad. They have run stoppers, they have players who both can defend the run and get pressure. As things go in a 3-4 defense, the line is less impactful in terms of numbers because mostly they protect the linebackers so they can make plays.
4. San Francisco 49ers: Darnell Dockett, Ian Williams, Quinton Dial, Glenn Dorsey, Tank Carradine
The loss of Justin Smith is huge. He was the main cog to this line. And again, San Fran's defense plays to its linebackers. The fact the defense has been so good for so long is because of the very good line they have. But losing Smith would be like the Cardinals losing Campbell. He means so much.
Agree? Disagree? Who should be number one? Where should the Cardinals rank? Discuss it in the comments.