There is no doubting the depth of quality at this position is nowhere near that of the WR's, but having a top quality DT is the forefront of any elite defense. It's the first player the opposition offence has to beat and usually they set the tone in the trenches.
Whilst any good Madden player will tell you not to control the defensive line, many novice players will control the DT on most of their defensive snaps. Whether you play 3-4 or 4-3 defensive (relating to the number of DTs on the field each play) it is undeniable that a disruptive DT can win games.
Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles (96 OVR)
Best Stats: Awareness (98), Power Moves (96), Strength (95), Play Recognition (94), Tackle (93) Impact Blocking (91), Acceleration (86), Block Shed (86)
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Fletcher Cox was high profile pick at 12th overall in 2012. Cox has been a model of consistency since being drafted and was a key member of the Super Bowl LII winning team.
At 6'4" and 310lbs he's more of a power player. His Power moves (96) and strength (95) are his highlights, with experience giving him high awareness (98) and play recognition (94) to not fall easily for a play action pass.
Despite his size, Cox still has impressive acceleration (86) and impact blocking (91), which stop him from getting stuck on the line against a big center. His finesse moves (75) are not where his focus is and his block shed (86) could be higher to be in consideration for conversations about being an elite player. But that said, if you need a 3-4 nose tackle, Cox will fill multiple gaps and take the attention of multiple offensive linemen.
Damon Harrison Sr, Detroit Lions (95 OVR)
Best Stats: Play Recognition (99), Block Shed (98), Strength (96), Impact Blocking (95), Tackle (94), Awareness (94), Pursuit (92)
Damon Harrison Sr is unique. He is one of the few players in any of these top player lists to have been undrafted. Also, good players stay with the same team for longer periods, but Harrison has played for both New York teams and now finds himself in Detroit. Despite being in the league for 8 years, Harrison only has 9 career sacks. So why does Madden rate him so highly?
Well at 355lbs, he's one of the biggest and strongest players in the league. According to PFF, he's the leagues best run stuffer. Whilst he will not get to the QB often, he will shut down the run - which is worth his weight in gold.
Maxed out play recognition (99), means he reacts to the run quickly. His block shed (98), impact blocking (95) and pure strength (96) mean that he gets off the initial block and closes the running gaps. His tackle (94) means once he gets you, you don't escape.
Michael Pierce, Baltimore Ravens (92 OVR)
Best Stats: Strength (96), Play Recognition (96), Block Shed (95), Impact Blocking (90), Acceleration (86), Tackle (85), Awareness (85), Power Moves (82)
Another undrafted rookie, Michael Pierce is heading into his 4th year and making a name for being the next Damon Harrison Jr. He mainly plays on obvious rushing downs and his 340lb frame fills multiple gaps on the line.
As you would expect, Madden rates his strength (96) as his best attribute, alongside play recognition (96) and block shed (95). He has good acceleration (86) for a big man and can get from side to side to read the HB running lanes. He has work to do in the pass rush game with power moves (82) and finesse moves (62) lacking.
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Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals (91 OVR)
Best Stats: Awareness (98), Play Recognition (95), Power Moves (93), Strength (90), Block Shed (89), Impact Blocking (89), Hit Power (85), Tackle (84), Acceleration (84), Finesse Moves (78)
If the previously mentioned players don't float your boat because of a lack of QB pressure, then Geno Atkins could be your guy. Atkins has 71 sacks in his 9 seasons, with a remarkable level of consistency over that period.
The 7x Pro Bowler has elite level awareness (98) and play recognition (95). He has good strength (90) that is supplemented by top end power moves (93). It's rare for a player to have both power and finesse moves (78) but Atkins has a decent score for a 300lb big man.
His tackling (84) could be better but his pursuit (89) and stamina (90) means that he won't stop chasing the QB down.
Kenny Clark, Green Bay Packers (90 OVR)
Best Stats: Strength (95), Block Shed (94), Play Recognition (93), Awareness (92), Power Moves (86), Tackle (86), Impact Blocking (86), Acceleration (83)
A relatively new name to the league, Kenny Clark has solidified in the middle of the Packers defensive line since being drafted in the 1st Round of 2016. Prior to an injury at the end of the year, Clark had a breakout 2018 and was named as a Pro Bowl reserve.
Another big player (314lbs), Clark comes with elite strength (95), block shed (94) and power moves (86). He has a high awareness (92) and play recognition (93) for a young player - and developing these further will boost his overall a few seasons in.
His tackling (86) is good, but could be higher. Acceleration (83) and impact blocking (86) means he will not be stuck on blocks, mostly. Clark is definitely a player that will improve for the long term and a piece to build your defensive line around.
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Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs (89 OVR)
Best Stats: Awareness (95), Power Moves (92), Play Recognition (92), Strength (91), Impact Blocking (89), Tackle (86), Acceleration (85), Block Shed (83) Finesse Move (83)
Another youngster on the list, Chris Jones exploded onto the scene last season with 15.5 sacks which was enough to get him on the 2nd Team All-Pro list for 2018.
Jones is definitely on the power side of the spectrum I mentioned earlier, with strength (91) and power moves (92). However, Jones combines this with above average acceleration (85), block shed (83) and finesse moves (83). With these stats, aged 25 and 310lbs, he can grow to be one of the best in the game in a few seasons.
He doesn't miss out on the intangibles side either, awareness (95) is high and so is play recognition (92). His pursuit (89) means the play is never dead.
DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers (87 OVR)
Best Stats: Stamina (92), Finesse Move (91), Impact Blocking (88), Play Recognition (88), Pursuit (87), Tackle (86), Strength (86), Block Shed (84), Power Moves (81)
Speaking of breakout 2018 seasons, DeForest Buckner saw his numbers jump to 12 sacks for last season. Drafted 12th overall in 2016, Buckner has adapted to the DT position well and makes the most of his 6'7" frame.
There's a clear drop off from some elite players in this position but Buckner's finesse move (91) and impact blocking (88) are very respectable. Age is on his side, he has great stamina (92) for his size, and will hunt players down with pursuit (87).
Having power moves (81) alongside the finesse is impressive, but strength (86) is less than ideal against the chunkiest of offensive linemen.
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