Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Michael Strahan, Jason Taylor.
*Note that this is the same as last year, as no modern era Defensive Linemen were inducted in 2021.
Last Year’s Rank #15.
Last year we said that no eligible player for the Hall of Fame has won the Defensive Player of the Year twice failed to make it to Canton. Now he is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. His AV/G is nearly one, and he has yet to have a season where he wasn’t named to the Pro Bowl. Donald, is on a six-year First Team All-Pro streak, and he was named to the All-Decade Team. As of this writing, Donald is arguably the best defensive player in the game and has been for a while.
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Injuries appear to be compiling on the body of J.J. Watt, and there is a good chance that he won’t make the accumulative MPAs. That won’t matter, as we have a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and character wise, a former Walter Payton Man of the Year. His AV/G is sparkling, and while he might be in decline, he could easily have a lot more left, and his new team, Arizona, hope that he does.
Last Year’s Rank #34.
Suh’s last Pro Bowl was in 2016 and his last First Team All-Pro was in 2014. He is still a good player, and the fact that he has had an extended stay with Tampa Bay has shed the vagabond label that he might have received. More importantly, he is now a Super Bowl Champion, and we can argue that Suh was the biggest beneficiary of the title in regards to Hall of Fame potential. Suh was just named as an All-Decade player, and if he remains decent, his chances will improve.
Last Year’s Rank #36.
A 12-year veteran, Campbell’s six Pro Bowls happened in the last seven years, which includes all three of his seasons as a Jacksonville Jaguar, and his first in Baltimore. Campbell, who recently won the Walter Payton Man of the Year, also was honored with an All-Decade Selection. Campbell is 35, but is playing some great football and another great season with Baltimore will be colossal for his chances.
Last Year’s Rank #40.
A Super Bowl Champion with the Eagles, Cox is on a six-year streak of Pro Bowls and he has a First Team All-Pro on the ledger. His AV/G is just over the MPA, but two more years at this level should complete the mission, or put him close.
Last Year’s Rank #42.
One of the more surprising 2010s All-Decades picks was Cameron Jordan, but it was not like he did not have a great decade. Jordan is on a four-year streak of Pro Bowls with six in total, and his leadership and character have been raising his profile in recent months. This can only help his Hall of Fame cause, especially considering he has yet to reach an AV/G.
Last Year’s Rank #39.
From 2012 to 2017, Gerald McCoy was chosen to the Pro Bowl, but his star diminished in 2018, and he had an average year in Carolina in 2019. McCoy joined the Dallas Cowboys in the off-season, and he needed a return to greatness badly for any legitimate Hall of Fame shot. That didn't happen this year, as he underwent season-ending knee surgery during training camp. The Cowboys have subsequently cut him as per their rights in his contract. Going into 2021, the Las Vegas Raiders signed him, and what we wrote last year is more urgent this year.
Last Year’s Rank #64.
Wake played his first ten seasons with the Miami Dolphins, and he was with the Tennessee Titans two years ago. Sadly, for Wake, he only played nine games in a reserve capacity, and was released after the year and hasn’t played since. As of this writing, Wake is a Free Agent but is also 39 years old. The resume may be finished.
Last Year’s Rank #87.
Heyward has been one of the top five Defensive Ends in football the last four years, but he will be 32 this year and has to keep his newfound peak at a relatively advanced age.
Last Year’s Rank #70.
Casey played his first nine seasons with the Tennessee Titans, and has been a Pro Bowler in the last five. Last year, he went to Denver, but the season was a bust with only three Games, a torn bicep and a COID protocol. He was released by the Broncos, and is seeking an NFL job, which is no lock to happen. After placing himself on the fringe of contention, it appears he is back out of it.
Last Year’s Rank #97.
Possibly the most recognized Charger, Joey Bosa was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, and he is a three-time Pro Bowler with nearly 50 Sacks. His AP/G is close to the MPA, and it is believed that Bosa has an ever higher level in him. We think he does.
Last Year’s Rank #128.
Buckner played his first four seasons with San Francisco and in his first year in Indianapolis, he set a personal best of 16 in Approximate Value and earned his First Team All-Pro. He is trending in the right direction.
Last Year’s Rank #144.Myles Garrett’s 2019 season ended early due to a suspension, and in 2020, he remained out of the “penalty box”, and earned his second Pro Bowl and first First Team All-Pro as Cleveland’s top defensive player. He is also coming off of his third 10 Sack year.
Last Year’s Rank #90.
We said last year that “Hunter is a pick for a lot of people to have a breakout defensive campaign, and he is coming off of back-to-back Pro Bowl and 14.5 Sack years”. That didn’t happen, as he missed the entire season with a neck injury. Hunter’s health will be in question, but he is only 26, so betting against him is not something we will do.
Last Year’s Rank #119.
Griffin’s relatively low AV/G is largely based on him being a backup for his first four seasons, but that is only part of the issue. The Defensive End played ten years with Minnesota, and he joined Dallas last season only to be traded to Detroit. He rejoined Minnesota going into 2021.
Last Year’s Rank #133.
Lawrence went to the Pro Bowl in both 2017 and 2018, and while his 2019 was down from the two years before, it was better than his 2020 season. He is still capable of a bounce-back season.
Last Year’s Rank #141.
Quinn’s last Pro Bowl might have been in 2014, but he is still a decent player who has an AV/G of .5. This is his second season in Chicago, and Quinn is an adequate pass rusher, but time is slipping away.
Last Year’s Rank #Unranked.
Dunlap played most of his career with Cincinnati, going to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and 2016. He was traded to Seattle during the 2020 Season.