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Ranking the AFC West: Defensive tackle

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Compiling the ranking of each AFC West team by the defensive tackles.


Much like the defensive end position, there is not a lot to speak of at defensive tackle. Two teams deploy a 3-4 and two teams a 4-3. Those with two defensive tackles can't have one be a weak link and those with one have to have a sure-fire lane-clogger. We start with the least suspect and work our way down.

1. Denver Broncos -- Sylvester Williams, Terrance Knighton

The Broncos revamp their defensive tackle position this season. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is reunited with Knighton from their days together in Jacksonville. Knighton was the full time starter under Del Rio and one of the better run stuffing defensive tackles in the league. He is joined by first round pick Sylvester Williams. These two could prove to be a potent duo for the Broncos in a division without a lot of talent at the defensive tackle position.

2. Oakland Raiders -- Vance Walker, Pat Sims

The Raiders defensive tackles finding themselves in the number 2 spot is more a product of DT being an overall weak position in the division. Gone are the likes of Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, and Desmond Bryant. In are the unproven Vance Walker and Pat Sims. Walker became a starter in Atlanta for the first time for the last six games of last season and Sims has always been a rotational run stopping defensive tackle. Walker showed some nice skills last season in his six starts but they have yet to show up in training camp or preseason for the Raiders. Sims showed some surprising pass rush skills in the Raiders preseason finale to go with his run stopping abilities. The real question will be if he can hold up for a whole game or the entire season.

3. Kansas City Chiefs -- Dontari Poe

After the Chiefs drafted this workout warrior, I saw a analyst say something to the affect that the Chiefs "hope" Poe lived up to his potential as if that was some kind of judge as to how good he would be. I remember wondering what kind of basis for judgment is "hope"? EVERY team "hopes" the players they draft will be good. But hoping isn't exactly a measurement for success. Low and behold, he was not all he was "hoped" to have been. Thus far he has shown himself to be just about an average defensive tackle and his addition couldn't keep the Chiefs from being one of the worst run defenses in the NFL last season despite being chock full of Pro Bowl talent.

4. San Diego Chargers -- Cam Thomas

This former fifth round pick has always seemed like he was going to get his shot but the Chargers kept finding a better option. Finally they are without a better option so Thomas gets the job. He'll take his five career starts in three seasons and try to prove he deserves the job full time.