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Top 10 NFC North Defensive Players 2024-25 NFL Season

With exceptional talent all over on defense in the NFC North, discover who the top 10 NFC North defensive players are heading into the season.
NFC North defensive players

The NFC North has some of the best defenses in the NFL that can shut down an opposing offense. While it’s typically a collective effort, a few players stand out for their ability to prevent offenses from scoring on their own. These top 10 NFC North defensive players have a unique ability to prevent opposing offenses from winning the game.

Top 10 NFC North Defensive Players

Honorable Mention: Brian Branch, DB

Brian Branch, a rare safety/corner hybrid, took the league by storm, picking off Patrick Mahomes and taking it to the house in his debut game as a rookie. Branch was a steal for the Lions, even as a second-round pick. He finished the season with 74 total tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and three interceptions.

10. Jonathan Greenard, Edge Rusher

Jonathan Greenard had a breakout season with the Houston Texans, achieving a career-high 12.5 sacks and 52 total tackles. Next season, Greenard will face the challenge of filling Danielle Hunter’s role with the Vikings, but he is expected to perform well. Notably, he excelled in mentoring Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. and will be responsible for guiding another young pass rusher in Dallas Turner.

9. D.J. Reader, DT

Coming from the Cincinnati Bengals, D.J. Reader can consistently create pressure and stop the run. His innate ability to react to outside-zone plays makes him a formidable presence on the defensive line. It’ll be scary for offensive linemen to see Reader and Aidan Hutchinson lined up on the other side.

8. Xavier McKinney, FS

The Packers made a significant offseason acquisition by signing Xavier McKinney, and it’s easy to see why. McKinney has emerged as one of the top safeties in the league, achieving a career-high 87.5 overall PFF grade. McKinney is one of the best coverage safeties in the game and offers stability in the backfield for the Packers.

7. Kenny Clark, DT

Kenny Clark has been elite for a long time and is one of the most underrated players in the NFL. It seems like Clark is in on the action every play and gets a tackle for loss or a sack. Having finished multiple seasons with a PFF grade of 90.0, combined with his consistency on the field, gives Clark the title of the best defensive tackle in the NFC North.

6. T.J. Edwards, LB

T.J. Edwards was not only the Bears best signing last offseason but also the top linebacker in the NFC North. Known for his elite instincts and constant presence around the ball, Edwards continues the Bears tradition of having outstanding linebackers.

5. Rashan Gary, Edge Rusher

Rashan Gary rapidly established himself as one of the NFL’s top pass rushers, amassing 31.5 sacks and 178 total tackles over five years with the Packers. His blend of speed, strength, and size has enabled him to excel in Green Bay, and he’s poised for another outstanding season.

4. Montez Sweat, Edge Rusher

A midseason trade that revamped the Bears defense, Montez Sweat gave the Bears a much-needed defensive boost. Beyond his impressive on-field performance, Sweat’s leadership has been crucial in developing a winning culture in Chicago. Leading both the Washington Commanders and the Bears in sacks, he is set to become the Bears next premier pass rusher.

3. Jaire Alexander, CB

The Packers star corner was plagued with injuries last season, opening the gate for another corner to take over as the best in the NFC North. However, from 2020 to 2022, Alexander achieved an impressive 91.9 PFF grade, the highest during that period. He is expected to regain his form as the Packers lockdown CB1 next season.

2. Jaylon Johnson, CB

Jaylon Johnson’s rise to stardom was unprecedented. Johnson was arguably the best cornerback in the NFL last season, earning a 90.8 overall PFF grade and allowed the lowest passer rating. As a result, the Bears paid him handsomely, signing a four-year $76 million extension over the offseason. The Bears have secured their lockdown corner for the foreseeable future.

1. Aidan Hutchinson, Edge Rusher

In just two seasons with the Lions, Aidan Hutchinson has established himself as the face of the franchise. According to PFF, Hutchinson earned a stellar 91.4 pass-rush grade, and his pass-rush win rate soared from 12.2% in his rookie season to 21.3% last season. Additionally, his 101 quarterback pressures last season were second only to Micah Parsons. Hutchinson is arguably the best defensive player in the NFC North as he enters only his third NFL season.

Read More: Ranking The NFC North Defenses By Position

Main Image: Tork Mason – USA Today Sports


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