No. 7: Vikings' Linval Joseph
If you want a good example of why Joseph is such a major factor in the Vikings’ defense, watch his performance against the Rams in Week 9 of last season. Not only was he a constant thorn in Todd Gurley’s side, he also proved his speed when the 6' 4", 328-pound Joseph crossed half the field to take the speedy Tavon Austin down on an off-tackle run. The only thing that’s keeping Joseph from a top-five ranking based on last year’s play is the fact that he missed four games with turf toe, but his dominance when healthy is something to see. Joseph isn’t a sack artist per se—he has just 12.5 in his six seasons—but he brings a lot of pressure with his strength and quickness. Moreover, he’s one of the league’s best run defenders, and when Mike Zimmer sets him up angled towards the center in a Stunt 4–3 look, he’s just about guaranteed to blow through protection and create tackles for loss. Joseph is a rising name on what might be the NFL’s next great defense.