Earl Thomas, Seahawks: With stout size and extremely physical play, Thomas has emerged into the best pure defensive back in the NFL. Can cover any receiver in the league with his elite speed and has the ability to come up and support the run with ease. An emerging super star.
Eric Weddle, Chargers: With 83 total tackles, two forced fumbles and three interceptions in 2012, Weddle is the leader of the Bolts defense and is a constant threat to make a big play. Has over 500 career tackles.
Eric Berry, Chiefs: Although, Berry was hurt all of 2011 with a torn ACL the youngster bounced back this past season in a big way finishing with 73 total tackles and one interception. 2013 he should continue to improve so watch his inceptions soar through the roof.
Mark Barron, Redskins: As a rookie had 88 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception. With great size at 6-2, 213 he sports the perfect frame for big hits and should continue to flourish going into his sophomore season.
T.J. Ward, Browns: Has been hurt a total of 10 games the past two seasons, however is young and will continue to make progress. Isn’t well known right now but with a great 2013, he could become a house-hold name.
Reshad Jones, Dolphins: Had a huge season in 2012 with 94 tackles, one QB sack, two forced fumbles and four interceptions. Boasting great size Jones, can defend the pass and when needed can come lay devastating hits on ball carriers.
Derrell Revis, Buccaneers: Needs to stay healthy, but is the best pure coverage defensive back in the league with elite speed and good size. Revis can lock up bigger receivers in man-to-man coverage with ease and has the ability to come up and support the run on the edge.
Richard Sherman, Seahawks: Needs to focus on his game a bit more as he talks quite a bit, but has great size and can use his large body to his advantage. 2013 will be a huge year for Sherman and the Seahawks.
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals: With seven interceptions and 52 total tackles, the scary thing is Peterson still has a lot of room to grow as a player. Will be the anchor of Arizona’s secondary for years to come.
Patrick Willis, 49ers: Extremely durable only missing four games in six seasons, Willis is your prototypical inside backer. At 6-1, 240 he has great size and the ability to make every tackle with his speed and intangibles for the game.
NaVorro Bowman, 49ers: Had 148 tackles in 2012 and is arguably the most furious hitter in the leage. Will continue to get better and has a motor that never stops.
Luke Kuechly, Panthers: The numbers are hard to argue with: 164 total tackles; and the fact that this feat was accomplished during his rookie year is even more impressive. Could emerge into the leagues best linebacker. Recorded 103 solo tackles in 2012.
Clay Matthews, Packers: Matthews had a down year in 2012, however still tallied 13 sacks. This season Matthews, should continue to succeed as he is absolutely relentless off the edge.
DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys: Will switch defensive schemes this year however, this won’t make much of a difference as he is a freakish athlete. Boasts 111 QB sacks and 32 forced fumbles during his career.
Von Miller, Broncos: With 66 total tackles, 18.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2012, Miller is the real deal at only 24 years of age. Expect the 6-3, 237 pound hybrid to continue to perform at a high level while anchoring the Bronco’s defense.
J.J. Watt, Texans: In no time at all, Watt is arguably the face of the NFL after an absolutely dominate 2012 season. With 20.5 sacks, 16 passes defended and 39 tackles for loss his production in 2012 was nothing short of outstanding. At 6-5, 295 his size is intimidating and he is virtually unstoppable off of the edge.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants: Is young and has great size and extreme athletic ability for his body. Although, his production was down in 2012, he is still young and learning. Had 16.5 sacks in 2011 when the Giants won the Super Bowl.
Cameron Wake, Dolphins: Is the best player on the Dolphins defense with 37.5 sacks over three seasons. Could line up pretty much anywhere however, the Dolphins will use him as their primary pass rushing threat. Expect Wake to continue to perform at a high level in 2013.
Justin Smith, 49ers: With elite strength and toughness Smith is yet another stud on SF. At 6-4, 288 he is very difficult to block as his effort is second to none. Additionally, he is a vibrant leader.
Vince Wilfork, Patriots: Is a natural fit for the position and can play anywhere on the line of scrimmage. Is a future Hall of Famer with the Super Bowl rings and Pro Bowl appearances to show for it.
Geno Atkins, Bengals: With 12.5 sacks and 39 total tackles in 2012, Atkins is an extremely productive big man at 6-1, 300. Should continue to only improve and could one day replace Wilfork as the best interior defensive lineman in the game.
Ndamukong Suh, Lions: As character issues have been a concern, we will cut him some slack due to his superstar potential at the position. With 22 sacks in three seasons in the NFL, his numbers are great; now he needs to tighten up his personal life.