The List: Six most disruptive defensive players

In this week's version of The List, Merril Hoge looks at the six most disruptive defensive players in the league.

Originally Published: May 21, 2007
By Merril Hoge | ESPN.com

1. Jason Taylor, Miami Dolphins: His versatility is why he's easily number one on this list. What can't he do? He can put his hand down or stand up, rush the passer, stop the run, drop into coverage and play both sides of the field. He's like a video game player out there on the field with the way he disrupts offenses. He is a recurring nightmare for offensive coordinators.

2. Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts: He is so explosive and destructive that he requires certain formations when he's on the field. Offensive coordinators have to make sure that he's double teamed, which means that most of the time the tight end is over on his side of the field. Despite that he still makes plays because of his sheer speed off the edge.

3. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers: We have never seen his kind of range in our league. He can start at one point of the field and get to another point in a flash. I've seen this kid start off in the box and end up playing Cover Two on the same play, which is simply unheard of from a defensive player. You have to account for him because he's so freakishly unique in terms of making plays.

4. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens: He's as smart a football player as there is in the NFL and in addition to that he's one of the more complete players in the league. He's dangerous in all aspects of the game for opposing offenses because not only does he have the ability to stop the run in the box, but he can cover the best tight ends in the game and also the second and third receivers if needed. Also, if a receiver is going across the middle they have to fear the big hits that he can deliver when given the chance.

5. Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears: His athleticism and range are simply amazing for a man of his size. His instincts to the ball make him a danger at all times and if he doesn't have two players on him there's no doubt he will make the play.

6. Shawne Merriman, San Diego Chargers: His brute strength and nastiness make him a dangerous player. He will occupy two people and he must be accounted for even with two guys on him. The scary part is that he's still developing and he could redefinte the position before his career is over.

Former NFL fullback Merril Hoge is an analyst for a wide variety of NFL programs on television and ESPN Radio. An eight-year NFL veteran, Hoge spent 1987-93 with the Pittsburgh Steelers and joined ESPN in 1996.

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