It's Friday, which means the bloggers of all four AFC East teams at SB Nation are back at the ranking game. Over the past two weeks, Matty I, MaPatsFan, John B and myself have spent some time ranking the division's running backs and linebackers. Since the conversations surrounding those topics have been excellent, we're continuing the ranking game this morning.
Last week's linebacker rankings were rather dull, considering there isn't much to seriously debate - particularly when considering how evenly matched and ill-tempered the running back rankings were. Today we're making a valiant attempt to get back to even ground. In case you hadn't noticed, the AFC East is chock-full of outstanding defensive tackles. There are big names throughout the division - Vince Wilfork, Kris Jenkins, Jason Ferguson, and the Buffalo Bills' very own Marcus Stroud. The depth throughout the division is also rather terrific.
1. New England Patriots - Vince Wilfork is probably the most dominant nose tackle in the league. The man is a mountain, and he's blocked like one, too. But it doesn't stop there for New England - they drafted another stout porker in the second round when they snagged BC's Ron Brace to back Wilfork up. Brace has a shot to play 3-4 nose tackle for a long time in this league (unless, of course, Wilfork prevents him from doing so). Mike Wright can moonlight at nose tackle, but he's athletic enough to play end for Bill Belichick as well. The best player and the most enviable depth? Putting the Patriots at the top of this list was relatively easy.
2. New York Jets - Look, I'm just glad that I didn't have to put the Jets at the top of the list this week, as they took my top spot at both running back and linebacker. Kris Jenkins is excellent as the anchor of that defense - just ask and . The team brought in veteran Howard Green to back Jenkins up at the nose (which Sione Pouha can do as well), and Green can play a little end as well. This is a big and versatile group.
3. Buffalo Bills - It's quite strange to try to fit the Bills into a group like this because their defensive scheme is so vastly different from the rivals'. In particular, the two schemes call for the biggest personnel differences at the DT position. Buffalo's personnel is lighter and quicker than the rest of the division's tackles simply because they're being asked to do different things. Marcus Stroud is still an upper-echelon tackle in the league, and the unheralded Kyle Williams is solid too. Spencer Johnson offers some athleticism and versatility in reserve, and if John McCargo can finally make good on his vast potential, the Bills will be quite deep at this position.
4. Miami Dolphins - Jason Ferguson has been an excellent nose tackle in this league for a long time, but he's far closer to "relic" status than any other player at the position as well. Ferguson will be fine this year, but in their haste to address their weak defensive backfield in free agency, the Dolphins missed the boat on securing the future at their most important defensive position. (Not that they didn't need to fix their secondary.) The depth behind Ferguson consists of Tony McDaniel, Joe Cohen and Paul Soliai - not necessarily in that order. The depth isn't great, and while Ferguson is an exemplary pro and a great fit for the Bill Parcells defense, it nonetheless places Miami last on this list.