No. 4: Panthers' Kawann Short
Like Geno Atkins, Short was weighed down by questions about his motor coming out of college, and like Atkins, Short proved that those concerns were completely off-base. Short played most of the defensive snaps at Purdue, which will wear a lot of young tackles down, but he shined once he got into Ron Rivera’s defense in Carolina. He broke out in 2015, amassing 13 sacks and 81 total pressures through the Panthers’ dominant run to the Super Bowl. As with all interior defenders, Short is about far more than his sacks. Just watch the first half of this year’s divisional round win over the Seahawks, and you’ll see how one guy can wreck an entire passing offense with his mere presence. Short will occasionally lose leverage when he’s too high in his stance, but he’s amazing in pursuit for his size, and he gets a surprising number of his sacks with open-field speed and second-level determination.