Execs, coaches, scouts rank NFL's top 10 defensive tackles for 2023

Aaron Donald has been the benchmark for defensive line play for nearly a decade. Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

NFL training camps are fast approaching, which means it is again time for the league's true insiders to have their say. As part of ESPN's 2023 NFL season preview, we surveyed league executives, coaches, scouts and players to help us rank the top 10 players at 11 different positions, from quarterback to cornerback and all positions in between. This is the fourth edition of these rankings, and as usual, several players have moved up or fallen off last year's lists.

By way of refresher, here's how our process works: Voters give us their best 10 players at a position, then we compile the results and rank candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average and dozens of interviews, with research and film-study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen. In total, more than 80 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. We had several ties, so we broke them with the help of additional voting and follow-up calls with those surveyed.

Each section includes quotes and nuggets from the voters on every ranked player -- even the honorable mentions. The objective is to identify the best players right now for 2023. This is not a five-year projection or a career achievement award. Who are the best players today? Check out who makes the list at every position on ESPN+.

We will roll out a position per day over 11 days. The schedule: Off-ball linebackers (July 8), defensive tackles (July 9), edge rushers (July 10), cornerbacks (July 11), safeties (July 12), tight ends (July 13), running backs (July 14), offensive tackles (July 15), guards and centers (July 16), quarterbacks (July 17) and wide receivers (July 18).

It's a beautiful year to be a top-shelf defensive tackle, and a rough year for a team to have to pay one.

Four tackles have received extensions or free agency contracts worth $84 million or more, and the likes of Chris Jones, Quinnen Williams and Christian Wilkins could join the party soon enough.

A disruptive force inside with the versatility to rush the passer, absorb double teams and anchor a run defense is worth serious coin.

Making more than $20 million without the name "Donald" on the back of the jersey used to be difficult, but no longer.

The defensive tackle position is so loaded that several voters were eager to help us sort it out. Several major players were left in the honorable mention category.

Let's look at some of the game's top interior defenders as ranked by execs, coaches, scouts and players around the NFL.