We’ve worked our way through the offensive positions, and even ranking the entire offense for each AFC West team. Now we move to the defensive side of the ball, starting with the interior defensive line.
Starting rotation: Jurrell Casey, Shelby Harris, Mike Purcell
They have a potent interior in Denver with these three. Casey and Harris both finished in the top 20 among league defensive tackles last season in run stops and tackles for loss. They combined for 11 sacks and 19 quarterback hits.
Purcell led the NFL among nose tackles in both run stops (28) and tackles for loss (8). Between the three of them, they have everything covered.
Starting rotation: Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Mike Pennel
Chris Jones is the best interior defender in the division. His presence brings the Chiefs defensive line to a very different level. A season ago he put up 15.5 sacks as a 3-4 defensive end. Even with a move to defensive tackle, he still put up nine sacks, which was third in the NFL at the position, and was second in the NFL among defensive tackles with 20 quarterback hits. He was also seventh in the league among defensive tackles with eight tackles for loss.
Nnadi is the team’s run stopper. He was fourth in the league among nose tackles with 17 run stops. Pennel signed with the team during last season and worked his way into a key part of the rotation with Nnadi.
Starting rotation: Maliek Collins, Maurice Hurst, Johnathan Hankins
Collins brings with him the long-missing interior pass rush for the Raiders. Along with 48 pressures last season, Collins put up four sacks, was 11th among defensive tackles with ten quarterback hits, and 14th with six tackles for loss.
Hankins was the Raiders’ most dependable interior defensive lineman last season, especially against the run. He was tenth in the league in both run stops (27) and tackles for loss (7) among interior defenders.
Hurst figures to rotate in when the Raiders want more pass rush than Hankins can provide. Hurst’s eight quarterback hits last season was 19th among defensive tackles.
Starting rotation: Linval Joseph, Justin Jones, Jerry Tillery
Joseph is the Chargers’ one established interior defender. He finished top 20 in both run stops (20) and tackles for loss (6) at his position.
Jones was a third-round pick by the team in 2018 and started 12 games last season. Tillery was the team’s first-round pick in 2019. He started three games.
Also see: AFC West rankings for QB I RB I WR I TE I OT I OG I C