1) Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams – For a man that was considered to be undersized coming out of college, Donald has been an absolute beast in his three years in the NFL. Last year was his lowest sack total at eight. He uses his size as an advantage and gets great leverage.
2) Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers- McCoy can still wreck an offense with his burst and speed. He doesn’t play as many snaps as the other guys on this list, but the effect he can have on a game is sometimes amazing.
3) Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals – Much like Donald, Atkins was considered too small coming out of college, and just like Donald, Atkins has proved his critics wrong. Atkins suffered a season-ending injury towards the end of the 2013 season and wasn’t quite himself during 2014. Over the last two years, he has returned to his dominant form.
4) Dominique Easley, Los Angeles Rams – Easley was let go last off-season by the Patriots, and teamed with Aaron Donald, he became a dominant force along the Rams defensive line. Easley could have tested the free-agent market but decided to sign a one-year tender to stay another season in Los Angeles.
5) Calais Campbell, Jacksonville Jaguars – Campbell’s monstrous 6-8 frame helped free up the Cardinals defensive ends last year and the hope in Jacksonville is that he will have the same effect.
6) Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles – Cox is a versatile defensive lineman that can play in multiple fronts.
7) Tom Johnson, Minnesota Vikings – Johnson is mostly a backup that fits well in a deep rotation, but his specialty is getting to the QB.
8) Mike Daniels, Green Bay Packers – Daniels is the only Packers interior defensive lineman who has shown the ability to consistently get to the QB. He is also very durable playing all 48 regular season games over the last three seasons.