Ranking NFL Run Defenses by Tiers

Run Defense Tiers

NFL Offseason - Football Outsiders' founder Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) and Senior Analyst Mike Tanier (@MikeTanier) are joined by FO staff writer Derrik Klassen (@QBKlass) on Thursday to put each of the NFL run defenses into tiers. The guys also talk through some recent news since the last episode.

The results of the run defense tiers are as follows:

Tier List

Watch the full stream below on YouTube and subscribe to our channel or listen to the audio on your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think! 

Football Outsiders is covering more than ever before with expanded offseason news, NFL Draft and USFL coverage. Be sure to get more out of Football Outsiders with an FO+ subscription

Be sure to tune in live throughout the offseason at 1 p.m. EST on YouTube to join the conversation! Subscribe to the podcast by looking for the "Football Outsiders Podcast Network" on your favorite podcast app. Football Outsiders is streaming LIVE every Thursday at 1 p.m. EDT. If you miss the live stream, you can watch or listen to every show on YouTube or listen to the podcast version. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast by looking for the "Football Outsiders Podcast Network" on your favorite podcast app.


5 comments, Last at 10 Jun 2022, 1:09pm

#1 by Raiderfan // Jun 09, 2022 - 3:09pm

Aaron stated the DL was swapped out completely, and failed to mention that Crosby is still there.

Points: 0

#2 by Bryan Knowles // Jun 09, 2022 - 4:59pm

In reply to by Raiderfan

We consider Maxx Crosby an edge rusher, and not an interior lineman.

Points: 0

#3 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 09, 2022 - 5:07pm

DL means defensive line, not interior defenseman.

How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg? Four. Saying that a tail is a leg doesn't make it a leg.

Points: 0

#4 by Theo // Jun 09, 2022 - 10:47pm

I think FO by now considers all 4-3DE/3-4OLB "EDGEs" and all 3-4 DE/NT/DT and 4-3 NT/DT "DL"

So now, there's the DE position that is considered EDGE and not DL.


I really think that DE/OLB have an important role in run support. For example: I remember Myles Garrett particularly being very poor in run support early on in his career.

Points: 0

#5 by mehllageman56 // Jun 10, 2022 - 1:09pm

Not sure how the Jets are in the C level and not last.  They were last in run defense last year, and have not added any help at interior defensive line or linebacker.

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support the Writers
Support Football Outsiders' independent media. Use promo code WRITERS to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip the team of writers.