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2023 NFL DL Rankings

With the NFL season upon us, at GoldSheet, we are ranking each positional group and coaching staff in the NFL. Each positional group will be ranked and placed into a tier to give us a better understanding of how each team is expected to fare at each position.

NFL games are won and lost in the trenches. Defensive linemen have simple jobs in football. Their job is to make life hell on the opposing QB, to push back the pocket, and to stop the run. Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Having a deep, talented unit that can turn an NFL game from 5 Mississippi to 3 Mississippi is a strength that teams can carry all the way to a Lombardi Trophy.

Not all defensive linemen, nor pass rushers, are built the same. Some win with speed, some with power, others push back the pocket, and others win with finesse. Some linemen solely stop the run, while others solely hunt the opposing QB. Having a combination of run stuffers, pass rushers, and pocket pushers is a dangerous combination, and more and more teams are building their teams around the defensive line.

Without further ado, let’s break down all 32 DL rooms, rank each team’s DL situation, and put them into tiers.

2023 NFL DL Rankings

* Indicates a rookie
! Indicates a new starter
There are some players here who are listed as LB. I focused on players who more frequently rush the passer/are on the DL vs. what position they are listed as. 

Tier One:

No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles
Josh Sweat, Jalen Carter!*, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, Brandon Graham, Hasson Reddick

No. 2 San Francisco 49ers
Drake Jackson, Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave!, Nick Bosa

No. 3 Washington Commanders
Daron Payne. Jon Allen, Montez Sweat, Chase Young, Phidarian Mathis

No. 4 Dallas Cowboys
Demarcus Lawrence, Mazi Smith!*, Osa Odighizuwa, Micha Parsons

No. 5 Pittsburgh Steelers
Larry Ogunjobi, Keeanu Benton!*, Cameron Heyward, T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith

No. 6 Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett, Jordan Elliott, Dalvin Tomlinson, Za’Darius Smith, Shelby Harris

These six teams are absolutely loaded across the defensive line. Not only do all of these teams have top-tier talent, but they are also all deep units. The Eagles’ defensive line looks like an All-Star team, and if Jalen Carter lives up to the hype, this defensive line will be impossible to block. The 49ers and Commanders have understood building strength on strength, and over the past few seasons, these teams have relentlessly added talent up front. It hasn’t led to as much success for Washington as it has for the 49ers, but it’s clear that if Washington did not have their defensive line, they would go from mediocre to terrible quickly.

With Micha Parsons’ emergence, it seems like rating the Cowboys 4th might even be low. Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland not only have three of the five best rushers in the NFL, they also are loaded with depth. I’d hate to be an offensive coordinator preparing for any of these teams.

Tier Two:

No. 7 Cincinnati Bengals
DJ Reader, B.J. Hill, Sam Hubbard, Trey Hendrickson

No. 8 Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Jones, Charles Omenihu, Derrick Nnadi, George Karlaftis

No. 9 New York Jets
Carl Lawson, Quinton Jefferson!, Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers

No. 10 New York Giants
Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, A’shawn Robinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux

No. 11 Miami Dolphins
Zach Sieler, Raekwon Davis, Christian Wilkins, Jaelan Phillips

No. 12 Carolina Panthers
Deshawn Williams, Shy Tuttle, Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaq Thompson, Brian Burns

No. 13 Tennessee Titans
Denico Autry, Tear Tart, Jeffery Simmons, Harold Landry

No. 14 Buffalo Bills
Von Miller, Ed Oliver, Daquan Jones, Greg Rousseau

Tier two is loaded with talent, just not as much as tier one. The Bengals have an insane mix of pass rush skills on the outside and pocket collapsing on the inside. The Chiefs have arguably the best DT in the game and great options alongside him. The Jets, Giants, Dolphins, and Panthers all have budding stars along their defensive line with impressive depth to match.

The Titans’ defensive line is not great, but when healthy, Jeffery Simmons is a one-man wrecking crew. He can take over games himself. The Bills have Von Miller on his last legs and a few young guys up from who, if they take a major step, the Bills’ defense should be much improved.

Tier Three:

No. 15 New England Patriots
Deatrich Wise, Davon Godchaux, Christian Barmore, Matthew Judon

No. 16 Los Angeles Chargers
Morgan Fox, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa

No. 17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Logan Hall, Vita Vea, Calijah Kancey, Shaq Barrett, Joe Tyron-Shoyinka

No. 18 Las Vegas Raiders
Chandler Jones, Bilal Nichols, Jerry Tillery, Maxx Crosby

No. 19 Green Bay Packers
T.J. Slaton, Preston Smith, Kenny Clark, Rashan Gary, Devonte Wyatt

No. 20 Indianapolis Colts
Grover Stewart, Deforest Buckner, Samson Ebukam!, Kwity Paye

No. 21 Denver Broncos
D.J. Jones, Zach Allen!, Matt Henningsen, Randy Gregory, Frank Clark

No. 22 Minnesota Vikings
Khyiris Tonga, Danielle Hunter, Marcus Davenport!, Dean Lowry, Harrison Phillips

No. 23 Los Angeles Rams
Marquise Copeland, Bobby Brown, Aaron Donald

The Patriots are on the border of tiers two and three. If Christian Barmore stays healthy and produces as he’s proven he can over a full season, this is definitely a tier-two team. The Chargers, Raiders, and Rams have at least one bonified stud on their defensive line, but outside of the studs, the rest of their defensive lines leave a lot to be desired.

The Packers and Colts are coming off down years for their offensive lines. These units have a lot of room for improvement, and it is easy to see these teams jumping up a tier if they can get higher-level play from the guys currently on the roster.

The Bucs, Vikings, and Broncos all have talent up front, but none of it is overwhelming. If Kancey, Tampa’s first-round pick, lives up to the hype, the Buccaneers can certainly shoot up these rankings. The Vikings and Broncos should have formidable DLs, but no one jumps off the page as elite, and the rest of the depth is decent at best.

Tier Four:

No. 24 Jacksonville Jaguars
Roy Robertson-Harris, Davon Hamilton, Folorunso Fatukasi, Travon Walker

No. 25 Atlanta Falcons
Calais Cambpell!, David Onyemata!, Grady Jarrett, Bud Dupree!

No. 26 Baltimore Ravens
Justin Madubuike, Michael Pierce, Broderick Washington, Odafe Oweh, Tyus Bowser

No. 27 New Orleans Saints
Carl Granderson, Khalen Saunders!, Cameron Jordan, Nathan Shepherd!

No. 28 Detroit Lions
John Cominsky, Isaiah Buggs, Alim McNeill, Aidan Hutchinson

Outside of Grady Jarrett and Cameron Jordan, there are no studs in this tier. Maybe Travon Walker or Aiden Hutchinson make themselves undeniable threats, but at the moment, they have a long way to go. Overall, no team in this tier has a clear path to improving at all this season.

Tier Five:

No. 29 Seattle Seahawks
Bryan Mone, Jarran Reed!, Dre’Mont Jones!

No. 30 Houston Texans
Jonathan Greenard, Maliek Collins, Sheldon Rankins!, Will Anderson Jr.!*

No. 31 Arizona Cardinals
L.J. Collier!, Carlos Watkins!, Rashard Lawrence, Zaven Collins

No. 32 Chicago Bears
Andrew Billings, Justin Jones, Demarcus Walker!, Trevis Gipson

These teams are in the doghouse due to a lack of talent. Simply, none of these squads have any high-end rushers or pocket pushers. If Will Anderson lives up to his hype, Houston can take a step forward, but there are not easy cases to be made for the rest of these teams to improve.

2023 NFL DL Rankings – Best DL Duos

  1. Nick Bosa & Javon Hargrave
  2. Micha Parsons & Demarcus Lawrence
  3. Myles Garrett & Za’Darius Smith
  4. T.J. Watt & Cameron Heyward
  5. Jonathan Allen & Daron Payne
  6. Jalen Carter & Hasson Reddick
  7. Chris Jones & Charles Omenihu
  8. Derrick Brown & Brian Burns
  9. DJ Reader & Trey Hendrickson
  10. Christin Wilkins & Jaelan Phillips
  11. Quinnen Williams & Carl Lawson
  12. Maxx Crosby & Chandler Jones
  13. Dexter Lawrence & Kayvon Thibodeaux
  14. Von Miller & Ed Oliver
  15. Joey Bosa & Khalil Mack
  16. Vita Vea & Shaq Barrett
  17. Kenny Clark & Rashan Gary
  18. Matthew Judon & Christian Barmore
  19. Danielle Hunter & Marcus Davenport
  20. DeForest Buckner & Samson Ebukam
  21. D.J. Jones & Frank Clark
  22. Jeffery Simmons & Denico Autry
  23. Grady Jarrett & David Onyemata
  24. Cameron Jordan & Khalen Saunders
  25. Aaron Donald
  26. Roy Robertson-Harris & Travon Walker
  27. Jarran Reed & Dre’Mont Jones
  28. Justin Madubuike & Odafe Oweh
  29. Aidan Hutchinson & John Cominsky
  30. Sheldon Rankins & Will Anderson
  31. Zaven Collins & Carlos Watkins
  32. Andrew Billings & Trevis Gipson

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