Top 10 nose tackles entering Week 9 of 2023 NFL season: Dexter Lawrence on a level of his own

Each week of the 2023 NFL season, the Next Gen Stats analytics team will present a different Position Power Ranking, meant to spotlight the top performers among a specific group of players. Today, we’ve assembled a list of the top 10 nose tackles heading into Week 9.

Before we dive in, though, a note on our methodology: To help create quantifiable rankings, we have devised a formula that yields a Next Gen Stats percentile score, which measures how a player is performing relative to his peers. The formula uses each player’s percentile score across a series of key metrics to create one composite score, indicating which players at that position performed best.


  • This week’s nose tackle score is a composite of a player’s production and efficiency when lined up as a 0- or 1-technique (i.e., nose tackle, also known as a nose guard) through the first eight weeks of the 2023 season. The rankings included 67 defensive tackles who have aligned at 0- or 1-technique on at least 50 defensive plays this year.
  • NT overall scores are rounded off to the nearest whole number for the purpose of simplicity, but the rankings you see below factor in the raw data down to the decimal point.

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  • NT Snaps: 285
  • NT Stops: 20
  • NT Pressures: 26

The blueprint to get paid in the modern NFL is simple: Either contribute to or disrupt the passing game. Lawrence has made a lucrative living by making life quite difficult on those who throw the football.

When aligned as a nose tackle, the 342-pound Clemson product leads all defenders in pressures (97) and pressure rate (12.6%, min. 200 pass rushes) since he entered the league in 2019. Moreover, his 26 pressures when aligned as a nose tackle this season are 12 more than the next-closest player. And finally, when it comes to the most pressures generated from that alignment in a game since 2018, Lawrence owns the top three spots: His last two games of this season against the Jets (10) and Commanders (8), as well as Week 10 of last season vs. the Texans (10).

  • NT Snaps: 212
  • NT Stops: 16
  • NT Pressures: 14

Reed has been a force as a nose tackle since his breakout season in 2018, when he finished top 10 at his position in pressures (52) and sacks (10.5). Despite his consistent production, he hasn’t been able to secure a long-term contract, instead bouncing around the league on short-term deals in recent years.

The two-year, $12.8 million deal Reed signed with the Seahawks this past offseason is looking like a bargain. His 14 pressures when aligned as a nose tackle trail only Dexter Lawrence. Reed’s 306-pound frame is slim for a nose tackle, but it probably helped him post nine of those pressures in under 2.5 seconds, the most among all players when aligned at NT.

  • NT Snaps: 186
  • NT Stops: 14
  • NT Pressures: 7

Jarrett unfortunately tore his ACL during the Falcons’ loss to the Titans this past Sunday, but he was producing well enough beforehand to land the No. 3 spot here.

Where Dexter Lawrence and Jarran Reed have flexed their skills as pass rushers, Jarrett is the first entry in this exercise whose greatest strength is as a run defender — which is surprising, given that he’s one of the lightest players on this list at 305 pounds. His 14 run stops this season are still the sixth-most when aligned as a nose tackle. Had it not been for the injury, Garrett was on pace to beat his career-best 27 defensive stops as a nose tackle, which he posted back in 2017.

  • NT Snaps: 182
  • NT Stops: 10
  • NT Pressures: 9

Pierce turns 31 in just a few days and is having quite the bounce-back year after missing most of last season with a biceps tear.

The 355-pound behemoth has been a force in the run game throughout his entire career — his 8.1 percent run-stop rate from the nose is the fourth-highest since 2016 (min. 500 defensive snaps in that span). This season, though, he has really put his strengths as a pass rusher on display, particularly as a nose tackle. Pierce’s 62 positive pass rushes — rushes when a player’s average pressure probability exceeds his probability at the snap — rank second only to Dexter Lawrence’s 111.

Pierce’s consistent performance — against the pass and run — is a major reason why Baltimore’s defense is one of the league’s more formidable units this season.

  • NT Snaps: 160
  • NT Stops: 11
  • NT Pressures: 7

Vea is a true black hole in the middle of the defensive line, swallowing up running backs, quarterbacks and double-teams alike. He has 11 run stops this season, on pace to best his career-high of 20, which he originally set in 2021 and tied last season.

A 347-pound monster like Vea is sure to draw extra attention. He’s incurred 46 double-teams as a nose tackle this season, the sixth-most from such an alignment. This has freed up his teammate, rookie defensive tackle Calijah Kancey, to develop his game in one-on-one situations. Kancey currently has the second-highest pressure rate (13.3%) among rookie DTs (min. 50 pass rushes). This trend should persist, as Vea’s 56 positive pass rushes this season (fifth-most from an NT alignment) will continue to draw double-teams away from Kancey.

  • NT Snaps: 223
  • NT Stops: 23
  • NT Pressures: 7

Evidence of players involved in the passing game getting paid is the lack of a second contract for Phillips with the team that drafted him, the Buffalo Bills. Phillips has the highest run stop rate (8.4%) from a nose tackle alignment since entering the league in 2018 (min. 500 defensive snaps). His near-34 inch arm length is an asset when reaching for shifty running backs in the trenches.

Phillips did get that second contract from the Vikings, and has since continued his war on interior rushes. He leads the league in run stops (23) and run stop rate (10.3%) when aligned as a nose tackle — no other player has eclipsed 9.0% (min 100 defensive snaps).

  • NT Snaps: 183
  • NT Stops: 13
  • NT Pressures: 8

Adams’ run stop and stuff metrics don’t really pop in general — unless he’s aligned specifically as a nose tackle. The 6-foot-4 tackle leads all players in run stuffs (7) and run stuff rate (8.8%, min 100 defensive snaps) from a nose tackle alignment this season, and in fact, accounts for three of the 18 games this season in which a player aligned as a nose tackle has recorded multiple run stuffs.

What makes Adams’ numbers even more impressive is how often he’s double-teamed. His 61.4% double team rate as a nose tackle is the highest in the league since 2021 (min. 300 defensive snaps).

  • NT Snaps: 75
  • NT Stops: 9
  • NT Pressures: 10

Like Grady Jarrett, Jones, too, makes this list after having such an impactful season prior to being placed on injured reserve with a pectoral injury after Week 5.

Buffalo’s defense has incurred myriad injuries outside of just Jones. It’s difficult to quantify his impact this season when the likes of Matt Milano and Tre’Davious White have been knocked out for the season, and most of the defensive line has dealt with injuries. Nonetheless, Buffalo’s defensive pressure rate has fallen from 54.3% all the way down to 31.9% when Jones has been off the field this season.

Part of his impact is pulling defenders away from his teammates; at 6-foot-4 and 317 pounds, no player has drawn more double teams than Jones since 2018 (500). Prior to his injury this season, Jones had the sixth-highest double team rate (56.5%) when aligned as a nose tackle (min. 50 defensive snaps).

  • NT Snaps: 205
  • NT Stops: 11
  • NT Pressures: 8

The former Bengal is on his fifth team since departing Cincinnati following the 2019 season, and he’s moving better than ever. Billings’ 1.06-second average get-off this season would be the fastest of his career, should it hold up. He’s likewise on pace to set a career-high in run stuffs (6), with all coming from a nose tackle alignment. His three-run stuffs this past week against the Chargers are the second-most in a game by any player aligned as a nose tackle this season. His 8.9% pressure rate as a nose tackle is also on pace to be a career-high.

  • NT Snaps: 224
  • NT Stops: 18
  • NT Pressures: 2

The former fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft has already matched career-highs in run stops (18 in 2022), run stuffs (6 in 2022), and quarterback pressures (3 in 2021 and ‘22) when aligned as a nose tackle through seven games this season. Slaton is also on pace to surpass all of those marks in general, not just as a nose tackle. His four-run stuff game last weekend against the Vikings contributed to his six total on the season, tied for the second-most from a nose tackle alignment league-wide.

Slaton’s snap count is way up in his third season, on pace to surpass his career-high of 318 from last season within the next few games. If Slaton can become a more consistent pass rusher, in the mold of B.J. Raji, their late-round investment over two seasons ago could pay dividends.


  • Keeanu Benton, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Adam Butler, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Leki Fotu, Arizona Cardinals
  • Davon Godchaux, New England Patriots
  • Travis Jones, Baltimore Ravens
  • Kobie Turner, Los Angeles Rams

— Mike Band, Keegan Abdoo and John Andersen contributed to this story.

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