The 2011 NFL Draft class defense didn’t take long to make an impression.
Especially on quarterbacks.
Grantland.com’s Bill Barnwell believes that class could be one of the best ever on defense. He put together a defensive lineup with the best players from that 2011 draft class, and included a pair of Broncos — linebacker Von Miller and safety Rahim Moore, who were Denver’s first and second-round selections that year.
The Broncos are the only team with more than one player on the list.
Miller, who earned his second Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections last year, finished the season ranked in the league’s top five in sacks (18.5), quarterback knockdowns (27), quarterback hurries (12), tackles for a loss (28), run stuffs (13) and forced fumbles (6).
Miller, along with fellow 2011 first-round picks Aldon Smith and J.J. Watt, finished the 2012 season with the league’s top three sack totals. The trio combined for 58.5 sacks last year.
Moore is the only second-round pick included on the list that is made up of seven first-round selections, two third-rounders and a fifth-round choice.
Moore emerged as starter for the Broncos in his second season and ranked third on the team with 71 tackles to go with one interception. His 1,044 defensive snaps led the team, which finished the season allowing the NFL’s second-fewest yards per game and the fourth-fewest points.
The rest of the lineup is as follows:
DE J.J. Watt, Hou.
DT Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ
DT Corey Liuget, SD
DE Robert Quinn, Stl.
OLB Aldon Smith, S.F.
MLB Mason Foster, T.B.
OLB Von Miller, Den.
CB Patrick Peterson, Ari.
CB Richard Sherman, Sea.
S Rahim Moore, Den.
S Chris Conte, Chi.
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That would be the best defense in football if you lined it up today; it might merely be a top-10 unit against the run, but it would be one of the best defenses against the pass in league history, with two legitimate Pro Bowl–caliber cornerbacks and three franchise pass rushers patrolling the field on every single third down.
And the scariest thing? I could make a whole other team from the 2011 draft without using any of those players, and that team would be one of the league’s best defenses, too.