These Tennessee football Volunteers defensive tackles stood out in the pros.
Note: This is part of a series of posts looking back on Tennessee football players who had the best NFL careers at each position.
Jeremy Pruitt said it best when Tennessee football introduced him as head coach in 2018. It’s no secret that if you want to win in the SEC, you have to dominate the line of scrimmage. That starts with elite defensive linemen.
The Vols have a history of producing great talent up front. They have turned out numerous superstars at defensive tackle, guys who got the push that set the rest of the elite defense in motion. In fact, there were a couple of years where an elite defensive tackle or two became the catalyst for the whole defense.
Often times, those defensive tackles go to the NFL and get moved over to defensive end, either due to them joining a 3-4 defense or just not being big enough to play in the middle. However, Tennessee football has still produced its fair share of defensive tackles in the pros.
In this post, we’re going to rank those Vols who had elite careers as defensive tackles in the NFL. As usual with these evaluations, we’ll only be judging what they did specifically as defensive tackles at the next level.
We should note that we won’t include players dismissed from the program or who transferred out before finishing. That eliminates Tony McDaniel. Our list will also value starts more than years played or appearances in games, which eliminates guys like Dan McCullers.
It’s hard to always measure these guys by pure stats, as many of them spend most of their time playing nose tackle and just getting a push to free up other guys. However, there are still ways for them to be effective, and plenty of them managed to stand out and have solid careers despite not racking up stats.
Now, defensive tackle is not as deep as other position in the pros because of what we talked about. Many of them move to defensive end, and in some cases they have moved over to offensive line or even linebacker.
That doesn’t stop us from having a list of guys who managed to make an impact. This is what an SEC program is supposed to do. So let’s go ahead and break down such players. These are the 10 greatest NFL defensive tackles who played for Tennessee football.