A Boy Named Suh
By: Ian Kenyon
November 2, 2010
Ndamukong Suh
Every year fans become enamored with first round draft picks and follow them all year to track their progress. Fans seem to focus on the skill position players because they are the easiest to follow and these players are owned in fantasy football leagues. Unfortunately, offensive linemen and defensive linemen often get swept under the rug and their impact is left unseen. The rookie that fans should be most interested in watching this year isn't Sam Bradford, Ryan Mathews, or Dez Bryant... it is Ndamukong Suh. Suh's immediate impact was expected, but his play this year has been on the brink of legendary.

Leading up to the draft, draft experts agreed that Suh was a "generational talent," his combination of brute strength, quickness, and moves to get to the quarterback were touted as being the best since Reggie White; lofty expectations for a player who hadn't yet played a down at the NFL level. Through seven games this season, it can already be concluded that we may be dealing with one of the most dominant defensive linemen to ever come out of the college ranks.

In 2008, Albert Haynesworth was thought of as the most dominant defensive tackle in the NFL, and even received votes for Defensive MVP honors. His play earned him a new seven year, $100 million contract from the Washington Redskins. Whether you agree with Dan Snyder's contract proposal to Haynesworth or not, nobody can deny the impact that he had on the Titans defensive line in 2008. Many pundits felt it was one of the best seasons ever by a defensive tackle in NFL history.

Let's compare Haynesworth's 2008 season to Suh's rookie year. Haynesworth, in 2008, had 51 tackles, 8.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, zero interceptions and zero touchdowns. Suh, through seven games this season, has 27 tackles, 6.5 sacks, zero forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and one touchdown. His 16-game pace is 62 tackles and 15 sacks.

Through eight weeks of the NFL season, Suh currently ranks eighth in sacks and is the only defensive tackle that ranks within the top 20. The defensive tackle that ranks second in sacks is Richard Seymour with 4.5, and he also plays defensive end.

Heading into draft weekend the argument against Suh was almost always about money. Nobody would argue if he was a top five talent. The argument always came down to, can you justify giving approximately $40 million in guaranteed money to a defensive tackle? Draft experts almost always feel that large sums of money like that should go to either a quarterback, or a left tackle. Even last year, with Suh on the board, many felt that the Lions should pass on Suh and take a left tackle to protect their 2009 number one overall choice, Matthew Stafford. Through seven weeks, I think it is safe to say that the Lions made the correct choice. The Lions are currently seventh in the NFL in sacks allowed, with only 12 allowed through seven games. Jeff Backus has done a solid job thus far anchoring the left side of the line and Ndamukong Suh has been giving offensive coordinators fits each and every week.

Suh's rookie contract is a five-year, $60 million behemoth with $40 million of that guaranteed. While many will point to the positional value of a defensive tackle, I will point to the contract that Haynesworth received and set as a precedent for star defensive tackles. When comparing, Suh appears to be a steal and Lions fans will have the pleasure of watching him through the prime of his career.

(May 1) -- The NFL Draft is in the books and Sideline Scouting would like to thank our visitors for making this our most successful year to date. We hope you enjoyed our coverage. Sideline Scouting will be back next year and better than ever. We have some big changes planned that we hope will make your visits here even more enjoyable.

*Cameron Newton
QB, Auburn
Von Miller
LB, Texas A&M;
*Marcell Dareus
DE, Alabama
*A.J. Green
WR, Georgia
*Patrick Peterson
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