The Five Best Defensive Tackles In Bills History

June 26, 2022
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Bills Beat continues with its series of ‘Top Five’ players with the defensive tackle position. The defensive tackle position has been a really good one for the Buffalo Bills over the years. There have been a number of top-tier talent at the position for the Bills, and even some who remain overlooked on account of the overall quality of the teams they played on.

Also, because of the great Bruce Smith, it’s easy to see why those who have played at defensive tackle wouldn’t get the kind of love Smith rightly receives. Nonetheless, the importance of a strong at the position or the nose tackle position has always existed for great defensive play. Here are the five best defensive tackles in franchise history.

5. Marcell Dareus

Marcell Dareus played for Bills teams that were almost never any good. Despite this, Dareus put up some solid numbers over his tenure with the franchise and remained a quality defensive tackle for seven seasons. He twice made the Pro Bowl in his tenure, in 2013 and 2014. ’14 was easily the best year of his NFL career.

Not only did he make the Pro Bowl that season, he was also selected as a 1st team All-Pro member and registered a career high ten sacks. His level of play was much higher than his profile playing in the market of Buffalo would suggest. In 2015, he was signed to a six-year contract extension featuring $60 million in guaranteed money, the most of any non-quarterback in the NFL at the time.

Highly sought after out of the University of Alabama, Dareus nevertheless would succumb to career destruction at the hands of his substance abuse issues. By the time the Bills traded him away to Jacksonville, his career was essentially over.

4. Ted Washington

For a period of time, Ted Washington was one of the most feared and revered defensive tackles in the NFL. Washington, at 365 lbs, was nearly impossible to effectively block in his prime. His ability to stuff the run was the thing he became most known for. Never exactly an artist at getting to the quarterback—he never recorded more than 4.5 sacks during his Bills tenure—he was always consistently good at what he was most capable of doing. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection for the franchise and a 2nd team All-Pro selection in 1997.

Washington is the son of Ted Washington Sr., who played linebacker for the Houston Oilers from 1972-1982. After his tenure with the Bills ended, he would end up playing in and winning a Super Bowl in 2003 with New England.

3. Kyle Williams

Kyle Williams was a member of the Bills his entire NFL career which ended in 2018. Over the course of this career, Williams was a six-time Pro Bowl selection and a 2nd team All-Pro selection in 2010. In one of his Pro Bowl seasons, 2013, he recorded 10.5 sacks. This was a career high. He also recovered two fumbles that season. Besides his consistent play over several seasons, he’s perhaps best known for being considered the heart and soul of the franchise at a time when things were extraordinarily difficult.

Williams holds the Bills franchise record for most sacks among defensive tackles. A definite fan-favorite, he will always represent a bright light for during times that were impossibly unfortunate for the teams he played on.

2. Fred Smerlas

Fred Smerlas is among the top tier of defensive players in the history of the Buffalo Bills. Because of the presence of Bruce Smith on some of the same defensive lines, Smerlas doesn’t always receive the credit he’s due by professional football historians and analysts. But he’s certainly well-known and loved among Bills fans. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a 1st team All-Pro selection in 1982.

Smerlas’s tenure with the Bills ended just before the four-time AFC champion run. His 110 consecutive starts is second all-time among players of the defensive tackle position behind only Alan Page’s 215. In his post-playing career, he has dabbled in political activities and been selected to the Bills Wall of Fame.

1. Tom Sestak

Tom Sestak is one of the all-time great Buffalo Bills. A member of the back-to-back AFL Championship teams of 1964 and 1965, Sestak recorded under five sacks in just one of his seasons playing professional football. But his best season was undoubtedly 1964, during which he was arguably the best player in the AFL. ’64 saw him record 15.5 sacks (which led the league) as well as returning an interception for a touchdown. These sacks largely came from his ability to jump at the snap and the speed with which he did so. He had unmatched athleticism for a defensive tackle at the time.

In the lore of the Bills, Sestak has just about everything in terms of accolades. Two-time AFL Champion, four-time AFL All-Star, six-time All-AFL, AFL All-Time Team membership, Bills Wall of Fame membership, and Buffalo Bills 50th Anniversary Team membership. He was also a finalist for defensive tackle on the NFL 100 All-Time Team, though he wasn’t ultimately selected.

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