Heading into the 2019 season, we hand pick who we think will be the top players at each position in the NFL. Some players find themselves on this list for the very first time, while others have remained staples at the top for a long time. When creating these lists, we found that the top 2-3 at each position are usually indisputable. For our rankings, at 4 and 5 you get a different look at who we think will make a name for themselves this year or prove once again why they belong on our top 5 list for 2019. Due to the difference in schemes around the NFL for the defensive line instead of DT’s and DE’s and OLB’s that all play on the line into DI (Defensive Interior) and EDGE (Outside Pass Rushers) as a cleaner way to group players who play multiple positions on the line for their teams.
1) Aaron Donald - Los Angeles Rams
This was by far the easiest decision we had to make when putting together these rankings. Arguably the best football player in the world right now is a man among boys. Putting together two Defensive Player of the Year seasons, he can get through the offensive line in the blink of an eye. Plain and simple he just does it better than everyone else and was an obvious choice for number one on this list.
2) Fletcher Cox - Philadelphia Eagles
If it weren’t for Aaron Donald's dominance, Fletcher Cox would be getting the upmost praise from the league as a consistent force in this league. A soon-to-be Hall of Fame candidate, Cox is a close second to the king of the defensive interior position, doing it from season to season with no signs of slowing down and leading the Eagles stacked defensive front in what should be a great year for the Philadelphia defense.
3) Chris Jones - Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs star burst onto the season last year recording 15.5 sacks and becoming Kansas City’s new center piece on defense. Moving from the 3-4 defense into the 4-3, they let Dee Ford and Justin Houston go to give their defense a new look in the new scheme. Adding a couple free agents won’t solve their defensive woes, but it does mean that they will need to lean on Jone’s ability to attack from the inside landing him at number three on our list.
4) Akiem Hicks - Chicago Bears
The interior defensive lineman was finally selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2018 in his eighth season in the league. Severely underrated, he soared in Chicago's defense last year as one of the league's best run stoppers on the top run defense in the league. Paired with teammate Khalil Mack, a DPOY candidate in 2019, there’s nothing holding Akiem back from another Pro Bowl this year.
5) Kawaan Short - Carolina Panthers
When he’s healthy, Short has been the rock for Carolina's front since they let Pro Bowl DT Dontari Poe walk, smartly keeping Kawaan as their future interior defender. Adding Gerald McCoy and Brian Burns to the line, they have the most talented front they’ve had since 2015. If the Panthers would have a bounce back year in 2019, you have their interior duo in Short and Mccoy to thank.