Darius Leonard (53) is a star for the Colts. Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

Every NFL team's most dynamic defensive star

Offense gets most of the attention in today's NFL, but defensive stars can be just as exciting. These dynamic defensive players stand out above the rest for their respective teams.

 
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Arizona Cardinals: Chandler Jones, OLB

Arizona Cardinals: Chandler Jones, OLB
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

Jones has been one of the NFL's most consistent and productive pass rushers in recent years, with double-digit sacks in six of the last seven seasons. He finished 2019 with a career-high 19 sacks.

 
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Atlanta Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT

Atlanta Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT
Brett Davis / USA Today Sports Images

Jarrett has developed into one of the best interior pass rushers in the league, with 7.5 sacks and 69 tackles last season to make his first Pro Bowl. He's been anchoring Atlanta's defensive line as a starter since 2016.

 
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Baltimore Ravens: Earl Thomas, S

Baltimore Ravens: Earl Thomas, S
Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports Images

Thomas came over from Seattle to join Baltimore's defense last year and didn't miss a beat. He made his seventh Pro Bowl, continuing to make big plays with two picks, two sacks and 49 tackles.

 
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Buffalo Bills: Tre'Davious White, CB

Buffalo Bills: Tre'Davious White, CB
Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports Images

White has made himself into an elite cornerback in three NFL seasons. He was an All-Pro for Buffalo last year, leading the league with six interceptions while shutting down opposing wide receivers.

 
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Carolina Panthers: Shaq Thompson, LB

Carolina Panthers: Shaq Thompson, LB
Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Sports Images

Thompson is one of the few key players sticking around Carolina's defense in 2020 after an offseason rebuild. The speedy linebacker had a career-high 109 tackles and three sacks in 14 games last season.

 
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Chicago Bears: Khalil Mack, OLB

Chicago Bears: Khalil Mack, OLB
Quinn Harris / USA Today Sports Images

Mack remains one of the league's top pass rushers, even while he had what's considered a down year for his purposes in 2019 with 8.5 sacks. He's made five consecutive Pro Bowls and has 61.5 sacks in six NFL seasons.

 
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Cincinnati Bengals: Carlos Dunlap, DE

Cincinnati Bengals: Carlos Dunlap, DE
Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images

The defensive line has long been one of Cincinnati's strongest areas, and Dunlap has been one of the team's best players for 10 seasons. He has 81.5 career sacks, including nine sacks in 14 games last season.

 
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Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE

Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE
Noah K. Murray / USA Today Sports Images

Unfortunately, Garrett's 2019 season ended early due to an ugly altercation with the Steelers, but he still recorded 10 sacks in 10 games. The former No. 1 overall draft choice is an elite pass rusher when he's on the field with 30.5 sacks in 37 career games.

 
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Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith, LB

Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith, LB
Matthew Emmons / USA Today Sports Images

Smith has overcome a serious knee injury in college to become a star in the NFL. He made his first Pro Bowl last season, recording 142 tackles and 2.5 sacks as one of the fastest sideline-to-sideline linebackers in the game.

 
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Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB

Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB
Jake Roth / USA Today Sports Images

A former Super Bowl MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and eight-time Pro Bowler, Miller has long been considered one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. He's coming off a down year with eight sacks last season but has 106 sacks in nine career seasons.

 
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Detroit Lions: Trey Flowers, DE

Detroit Lions: Trey Flowers, DE
Junfu Han / USA Today Sports Images

Flowers failed to make the difference the Lions hoped for when they gave him big money in free agency last offseason, but the former Patriot still recorded seven sacks in 15 games. He has at least 6.5 sacks in each of the last four seasons while also playing the run well.

 
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Green Bay Packers: Za'Darius Smith, OLB

Green Bay Packers: Za'Darius Smith, OLB
Dan Powers / USA Today Sports Images

Smith made good on his first season as a full-time starter after joining the Packers last season, with 13.5 sacks and his first Pro Bowl appearance. Joining with fellow pass rusher Preston Smith, Za'Darius is hoping for an encore performance in 2020.

 
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Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE

Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

Watt has long been one of the most dominant defensive players in the league, though injuries have limited him in recent seasons. He's won three Defensive Player of the Year Awards and appeared in five Pro Bowls, with 96 career sacks in 112 games.

 
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Indianapolis Colts: Darius Leonard, LB

Indianapolis Colts: Darius Leonard, LB
Brian Spurlock / USA Today Sports Images

Leonard has proved to be a tackling machine in two NFL seasons. He was an All-Pro in his rookie season and Pro Bowler last year, recording 284 tackles in 28 games for his brief career.

 
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Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, DE

Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, DE
Cary Edmondson / USA Today Sports Images

Allen played himself into the lineup and showed why he was the seventh overall pick in last year's draft, recording 10.5 sacks. With the loss of Calais Campbell and potential loss of Yannick Ngakoue, the Jaguars are hoping Allen builds on last season.

 
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Kansas City Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu, S

Kansas City Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu, S
Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports Images

Mathieu joined the Chiefs in free agency last offseason and was named an All-Pro for the second time, proving to be everywhere for the team's revamped defense. While serving as a safety and occasional slot corner, Mathieu had 75 tackles and four interceptions en route to the Super Bowl.

 
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Las Vegas Raiders: Cory Littleton, LB

Las Vegas Raiders: Cory Littleton, LB
Dale Zanine / USA Today Sports Images

Littleton joins the Raiders after four seasons with the Rams, two as a full-time starter. He had over 120 tackles in consecutive seasons and was also terrific covering opposing running backs.

 
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Los Angeles Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE

Los Angeles Chargers: Joey Bosa, DE
Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports Images

Bosa made his second Pro Bowl in four years last season, recording 11.5 sacks and 67 tackles. He's been extremely productive during his career when on the field, proving to be an elite sack artist.

 
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Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Donald, DT

Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Donald, DT
Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports Images

Donald is a truly elite pass rusher, now on a streak of six straight Pro Bowls and five straight All-Pro honors. He had 12.5 sacks and a league-leading 20 tackles for loss last season after recording a league-leading 20.5 sacks in 2018.

 
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Miami Dolphins: Byron Jones, CB

Miami Dolphins: Byron Jones, CB
Tim Heitman / USA Today Sports Images

Jones joins the Dolphins from Dallas, where he was a shutdown corner for two seasons after moving over from safety. While he lacks great ball skills, Jones has been plenty productive, earning himself a huge contract in free agency with Miami.

 
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Minnesota Vikings: Danielle Hunter, DE

Minnesota Vikings: Danielle Hunter, DE
Harrison Barden / USA Today Sports Images

Hunter has become an elite pass rusher for a good Vikings defense in recent seasons. He's made consecutive Pro Bowls and has double-digit sacks in three of the last four seasons. Hunter recorded 14.5 sacks in back-to-back years.

 
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New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore, CB

New England Patriots: Stephon Gilmore, CB
Tommy Gilligan / USA Today Sports Images

Gilmore won 2019 Defensive Players of the Year and was an All-Pro for the second consecutive season, leading the NFL with six interceptions and 20 passes defensed. He's also made the Pro Bowl in three of the last four seasons.

 
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New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan, DE

New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan, DE
Derick E. Hingle / USA Today Sports Images

Jordan has been an anchor on the Saints defense since 2011, with five Pro Bowls for his career. He has double-digit sacks in three consecutive seasons, including 15.5 sacks and 53 tackles last year.

 
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New York Giants: Blake Martinez, LB

New York Giants: Blake Martinez, LB
Joshua Clark / USA Today Sports Images

The Giants gave Martinez huge money this offseason for good reason. The former Packer has at least 144 tackles in each of the last three seasons, proving himself to be an elite part of Green Bay's run defense.

 
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New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S

New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S
Vincent Carchietta / USA Today Sports Images

Adams has a claim as one of the top safeties in the NFL for his first three seasons. He did everything for the Jets last year, finishing with 75 tackles, seven passes defensed and 6.5 sacks in 14 games.

 
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Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT

Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT
Bill Streicher / USA Today Sports Images

Cox has been a huge part of Philadelphia's defensive line since 2012, with 48 career sacks. He's made five consecutive Pro Bowls, finishing last year with 40 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

 
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Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, OLB

Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, OLB
Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports Images

Watt has joined his older brother, J.J., as one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the game. He recorded 14.5 sacks and a league-high eight forced fumbles last season, being named an All-Pro for the first time.

 
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San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE

San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa, DE
Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images

Bosa was able to prove what all the fuss was about in his rookie season after becoming the second overall pick in the draft. The former Ohio State star had nine sacks and 25 quarterback hits to help him win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

 
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Seattle Seahawks: Bobby Wagner, LB

Seattle Seahawks: Bobby Wagner, LB
Joe Nicholson / USA Today Sports Images

Wagner is one of the few players still remaining from Seattle's elite defenses of the last decade and is still going strong with his fifth All-Pro designation last year. He led the NFL with 159 tackles and has over 100 tackles in all eight seasons of his career.

 
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lavonte David, LB

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lavonte David, LB
Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports Images

David has been a tackling machine for most of his NFL career. He has over 1,000 career tackles in eight seasons with the Bucs, including 123 tackles and seven passes defensed last year.

 
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Tennessee Titans: Kevin Byard, S

Tennessee Titans: Kevin Byard, S
Troy Taormina / USA Today Sports Images

Byard has shown a nose for the ball in his four seasons, including an All-Pro season in 2017. Over the last three years, Byard has 17 interceptions and 261 tackles.

 
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Washington Redskins: Landon Collins, S

Washington Redskins: Landon Collins, S
Tommy Gilligan / USA Today Sports Images

Collins has been a great tackler and playmaker for his entire five-year career between the Giants and Washington. He had 117 tackles last year, but his streak of three straight Pro Bowls was halted.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.

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