By Joe Landers
Click Here if you missed the Introduction to the Series
Intuitively, it seems as though Defensive Tackle would be one of the nuanced and tougher positions to excel at in the NFL. Counter-intuitively, the most common peak season among Defensive Tackles is Year 2. Year 4 is very close to Year 2 with a small dip in Year 3. After Year 4, like most other positions, the propensity to have a peak season drops considerably.
The norm for Defensive Tackles is Year 2. Here are some of the most recognizable names that peaked in Year 2.
The Norm – DTs Who Peaked in Year Two of Their Career
|Anthony Adams||Richard Seymour|
|William Joseph||Casey Hampton|
|Ryan Pickett||Kevin Williams|
|Gabe Watson||Antonio Dixon|
|Terrance Knighton||Anthony Montgomery|
With Year 4 being so close to Year 2 in terms of DTs having their best season, here are ten who peaked in Year 4.
Year Four – DTs Who Peaked in Year Four of Their Career
|Alan Branch||Gerald McCoy|
|Corey Williams||Shaun Cody|
|Dewayne Robertson||Ty Warren|
|Amobi Okoye||Jimmy Kennedy|
|Jay Ratliff||Larry Tripplett|
As uncommon as it is, these ten defensive tackles peaked as rookies. Their on-field productivity never again matched what they accomplished in their rookie seasons.
Rookie Peaks – DTs Who Peaked in Year One of Their Career
|Ndamukong Suh||Gerard Warren|
|Corey Simon||Shaun Rogers|
|Dorrell Scott||Kedric Golston|
|Marcus Harrison||Myron Pryor|
|Ed Johnson||Clifton Ryan|
These ten defensive tackles represent another set of outliers – those who had their peak season after Year 6 of their career. (Haynesworth invokes all sorts of opinions. It should be noted that his seventh season was with Tennessee. The very next year is when he hijacked the Dan Snyder Brinks truck for $100m. The drop in productivity that immediately followed in Year 8 through retirement needs no mention.)
Late-Peakers – DTs Who Peaked After Year 6 of Their Career
|Albert Haynesworth (7)||Fred Robbins (7)|
|Justin Bannan (7)||SIone Pouha (7)|
|Vince Wilfork (8)||Spencer Johnson (8)|
|Jamal Williams (9)||Dwan Edwards (9)|
|Kyle Williams (8)||Tom Johnson (10)|
These ten big-name defensive tackles seem to have their best season not only behind them, but they achieved it in the first three years. The prediction isn’t that they’re in terminal decline, but based on the odds and how prolific their peak season was (in parentheses), it’s highly unlikely that their career year is ahead.
Big Names Who Seem to Have Peaked in First Three Years
|Terrence Cody (2)||Kyle Love (2)|
|B.J. Raji (2)||Geno Atkins (3)|
|Tyson Alualu (3)||Linval Joseph (3)|
|Glenn Dorsey (3)||Brandon McKinney (2)|
|Andre Fluellen (2)||Fili Moala (2)|
These ten players didn’t qualify for the study as they’re in the 2011 or later classes. However, they do have three years of productivity. Based on their career trajectory thus far, it appears their best season (in parentheses) might be in the rearview mirror.
Current Players Who Seem to Have Peaked in First Three Years
|Marcell Dareus (3)||Phil Taylor (1)|
|Nick Fairley (3)||Abry Jones (2)|
|Karl Klug (1)||Mike Martin (1)|
|Dontari Poe (2)||Johnathan Hankins (2)|
|Akeem Spence (2)||Ishmaaily Kitchen (3)|
Based on career trajectories, these ten ends seem as though their best season is ahead of them in the next 1-3 years.
Peak Coming 1-3 Years
|Dominique Easley||Damon Harrison|
|Timmy Jernigan||Sylvester Williams|
|Justin Ellis||Bennie Logan|
|Sharrif Floyd||Star Lotulelei|
|Stacy McGee||Josh Mauro|
Next Up – Safeties