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Chris McAlister played 137 games in his NFL career: 135 with the Ravens from 1999 to 2008, and then 2 with the Saints in 2009 (given that he accumulated 0 points of AV with New Orleans, I’m excluding that from the analysis). He was the 10th overall pick in the ’99 draft, and a first-team All-Pro in ’03 and ’04, and a Pro Bowler in ’06. Most notably, he played on very good defenses almost every season of his career. In 10 years in Baltimore, the Ravens defense never ranked outside of the top 10 and ranked in the top 2 more often than not. You can calculate McAlister’s average team’s defensive DVOA by weighting his DVOA in each year (where he received at least one point of AV) by his number of games played that year as follows:

As it turns out, among players with at least 70 points of career AV, his average grade of -18.1% is the highest grade of any player (Jerome Brown is at -18.2% but he had only 48 points of career AV, as his life was cut tragically short). The full list of players below.

RkPlayerAVPosAvg Def DVOAHOF
1Chris McAlister71DB-18.1%Not in HOF
2Richard Sherman74DB-15%Not in HOF
3Roger Brown77DT-14.7%Not in HOF
4Terrell Suggs100LB-DE-14.2%Not in HOF
5Jack Lambert110LB-14.2%Hall of Fame
6Jack Ham114LB-14.2%Hall of Fame
7Ed Reed109DB-14%Not in HOF
8Ray Lewis160LB-13.3%Not in HOF
9Wilber Marshall98LB-12.9%Not in HOF
10Mel Blount101DB-12.9%Hall of Fame
11Von Miller72LB-12.8%Not in HOF
12Joe Greene104DT-12.7%Hall of Fame
13L.C. Greenwood80DE-12.7%Not in HOF
14Dan Hampton101DE-DT-12.6%Hall of Fame
15Herb Adderley106DB-12.4%Hall of Fame
16Donnie Shell91DB-12.2%Not in HOF
17Henry Jordan94DT-DE-12%Hall of Fame
18Aaron Smith71DE-11.8%Not in HOF
19Alex Karras88DT-11.7%Not in HOF
20Mel Renfro98DB-RB-11.7%Hall of Fame
21Willie Davis94DE-DT-11.5%Hall of Fame
22Jethro Pugh70DT-DE-11.4%Not in HOF
23Carnell Lake83DB-11%Not in HOF
24Dave Robinson81LB-11%Hall of Fame
25Reggie White157DE-DT-11%Hall of Fame
26Rod Woodson141DB-11%Hall of Fame
27James Farrior95LB-10.9%Not in HOF
28James Harrison92LB-10.6%Not in HOF
29Lee Roy Jordan90LB-10.6%Not in HOF
30Levon Kirkland84LB-10.5%Not in HOF
31Patrick Peterson71CB-10.3%Not in HOF
32Casey Hampton73NT-DT-10.2%Not in HOF
33Willie Wood92DB-10.1%Hall of Fame
34William Thomas74LB-10.1%Not in HOF
35Derrick Brooks144LB-10.1%Hall of Fame
36Steve McMichael99DT-NT-10%Not in HOF
37Mike Singletary123LB-9.9%Hall of Fame
38Eric Allen99DB-9.8%Not in HOF
39Andy Russell79LB-9.7%Not in HOF
40Cliff Harris77DB-9.7%Not in HOF
41Brian Urlacher118LB-9.6%Not in HOF
42Troy Polamalu94DB-9.6%Not in HOF
43Ray Nitschke94LB-9.6%Hall of Fame
44Seth Joyner85LB-DB-9.3%Not in HOF
45Lance Briggs98LB-9.2%Not in HOF
46Sam Madison88DB-9.1%Not in HOF
47Merlin Olsen112DT-9.1%Hall of Fame
48Haloti Ngata100DT-9%Not in HOF
49Bobby Bell103LB-DE-9%Hall of Fame
50Gary Larsen73DT-8.9%Not in HOF
51Jason Gildon76LB-8.8%Not in HOF
52Charles Haley83DE-LB-8.7%Hall of Fame
53Wally Hilgenberg75LB-G-8.7%Not in HOF
54Gary Fencik81DB-8.6%Not in HOF
55Greg Lloyd93LB-8.6%Not in HOF
56Isiah Robertson100LB-8.5%Not in HOF
57Alan Page139DT-8.4%Hall of Fame
58Curley Culp86DT-NT-G-8.4%Hall of Fame
59Jack Reynolds79LB-8.4%Not in HOF
60Richard Dent96DE-8.2%Hall of Fame
61Trevor Pryce83DT-DE-8.1%Not in HOF
62Dick LeBeau79DB-8%Hall of Fame
63Cornell Green95DB-8%Not in HOF
64Wayne Walker85LB-8%Not in HOF
65Jack Pardee76LB-8%Not in HOF
66Richie Petitbon86DB-7.9%Not in HOF
67Mike Merriweather73LB-7.8%Not in HOF
68Warren Sapp120DT-7.5%Hall of Fame
69Julius Peppers127DE-7.5%Not in HOF
70Ronde Barber111DB-7.4%Not in HOF
71Zach Thomas118LB-7.4%Not in HOF
72Lester Hayes74DB-7.3%Not in HOF
73Jason Taylor119DE-7.3%Hall of Fame
74J.J. Watt82DE-7.2%Not in HOF
75Pat Swilling99LB-DE-7.2%Not in HOF
76Jack Youngblood105DE-7.2%Hall of Fame
77Derrick Thomas106LB-7.1%Hall of Fame
78Darrelle Revis89DB-7.1%Not in HOF
79Clyde Simmons87DE-DT-7.1%Not in HOF
80Harvey Martin78DE-DT-7.1%Not in HOF
81George Andrie71DE-7%Not in HOF
82Ron McDole91DE-DT-7%Not in HOF
83Asante Samuel71DB-7%Not in HOF
84Jerry Mays81DE-DT-6.9%Not in HOF
85Deacon Jones91DE-6.9%Hall of Fame
86Buck Buchanan93DT-6.8%Hall of Fame
87John Lynch90DB-6.8%Not in HOF
88Eddie Meador83DB-6.5%Not in HOF
89Sam Mills101LB-6.5%Not in HOF
90Lawrence Taylor137LB-6.5%Hall of Fame
91Rod Martin77LB-6.5%Not in HOF
92Bobby Bryant71DB-6.5%Not in HOF
93Johnny Robinson91DB-FL-HB-6.4%Not in HOF
94David Harris81LB-6.4%Not in HOF
95Bobby Boyd95DB-6.4%Not in HOF
96Rickey Jackson113LB-DE-6.3%Hall of Fame
97Fred Dryer72DE-6.2%Not in HOF
98Bob Lilly108DT-DE-6.2%Hall of Fame
99Chris Doleman114DE-LB-6.1%Hall of Fame
100Neil Smith95DE-6.1%Not in HOF
101William Fuller74DE-6%Not in HOF
102Calais Campbell74DE-5.9%Not in HOF
103Jeremiah Trotter76LB-5.9%Not in HOF
104Brian Dawkins101DB-5.9%Not in HOF
105Rodney Harrison72DB-5.6%Not in HOF
106Patrick Willis92LB-5.6%Not in HOF
107Roy Winston80LB-5.5%Not in HOF
108Paul Krause113DB-WR-5.5%Hall of Fame
109Pat Williams72DT-5.4%Not in HOF
110Howie Long95DE-NT-5.4%Hall of Fame
111Bill Romanowski84LB-5.3%Not in HOF
112Jevon Kearse72DE-5.2%Not in HOF
113Dana Stubblefield73DT-5.2%Not in HOF
114Mike Haynes105DB-5.2%Hall of Fame
115Louis Wright87DB-5.1%Not in HOF
116Carl Eller123DE-5.1%Hall of Fame
117Chuck Howley96LB-5%Not in HOF
118Jerry Robinson74LB-5%Not in HOF
119Dale Carter70DB-5%Not in HOF
120Rob Burnett81DE-5%Not in HOF
121Henry Thomas83DT-NT-4.8%Not in HOF
122Randy Gradishar88LB-4.8%Not in HOF
123Ronnie Lott118DB-4.7%Hall of Fame
124Ken Houston96DB-4.7%Hall of Fame
125Randy White116DT-LB-DE-4.6%Hall of Fame
126Junior Seau130LB-4.5%Hall of Fame
127Harry Carson91LB-4.4%Hall of Fame
128Rosey Taylor76DB-4.4%Not in HOF
129Leonard Marshall71DE-DT-4.3%Not in HOF
130Trent Cole70DE-LB-4.3%Not in HOF
131Sam Adams76DT-DE-4.2%Not in HOF
132Darren Sharper89DB-4.1%Not in HOF
133Too Tall Jones94DE-4.1%Not in HOF
134Tedy Bruschi71LB-4%Not in HOF
135Willie Brown108DB-4%Hall of Fame
136Charles Mann78DE-3.9%Not in HOF
137Joey Porter89LB-3.9%Not in HOF
138Carl Hairston73DE-DT-LB-3.9%Not in HOF
139Hugh Douglas70DE-3.9%Not in HOF
140Tom Jackson83LB-3.8%Not in HOF
141LeRoy Butler90DB-3.7%Not in HOF
142Dave Grayson82DB-3.7%Not in HOF
143Steve Nelson70LB-3.7%Not in HOF
144Bill Thompson81DB-3.7%Not in HOF
145Al Baker69DE-3.6%Not in HOF
146Lou Michaels69DE-K-3.6%Not in HOF
147Clay Matthews73LB-3.5%Not in HOF
148Claude Humphrey72DE-3.4%Hall of Fame
149DeMarcus Ware100LB-3.4%Not in HOF
150Willie Lanier88LB-3.4%Hall of Fame
151Jake Scott81DB-3.3%Not in HOF
152Darren Woodson76DB-3.3%Not in HOF
153Albert Lewis80DB-3.3%Not in HOF
154Lyle Alzado81DE-DT-3.3%Not in HOF
155Chad Brown85LB-3.2%Not in HOF
156Calvin Pace72DE-3.2%Not in HOF
157Hardy Nickerson99LB-2.9%Not in HOF
158Maxie Baughan84LB-2.8%Not in HOF
159Kevin Greene95LB-DE-2.8%Hall of Fame
160Mark Haynes70DB-2.8%Not in HOF
161Terence Newman70DB-2.8%Not in HOF
162Randall Godfrey72LB-2.8%Not in HOF
163Michael Dean Perry87DT-DE-2.7%Not in HOF
164Greg Kragen76NT-DT-2.6%Not in HOF
165Bruce Smith148DE-2.6%Hall of Fame
166London Fletcher97LB-2.5%Not in HOF
167Geno Atkins69DT-2.5%Not in HOF
168Emmitt Thomas70DB-2.4%Hall of Fame
169Troy Vincent89DB-2.4%Not in HOF
170Deron Cherry75DB-2.4%Not in HOF
171Kevin Carter90DE-DT-2.4%Not in HOF
172Keith Bulluck73LB-2.4%Not in HOF
173Ted Washington93NT-DT-2.3%Not in HOF
174Doug Atkins71DE-2.3%Hall of Fame
175Ty Law87DB-2.3%Not in HOF
176Pat Fischer84DB-2.2%Not in HOF
177Jim Marshall98DE-2.1%Not in HOF
178Joey Browner72DB-2.1%Not in HOF
179Ken Norton83LB-2%Not in HOF
180Lem Barney99DB-2%Hall of Fame
181Ted Hendricks107LB-1.9%Hall of Fame
182Simeon Rice88DE-1.9%Not in HOF
183Michael Strahan121DE-1.8%Hall of Fame
184Jessie Armstead81LB-1.8%Not in HOF
185Sherrill Headrick71LB-1.7%Not in HOF
186Marco Coleman72DE-LB-1.7%Not in HOF
187Steve Atwater79DB-1.7%Not in HOF
188Dennis Smith73DB-1.7%Not in HOF
189Charles Woodson110DB-1.7%Not in HOF
190Daryl Smith72LB-1.7%Not in HOF
191Eugene Robinson87DB-1.7%Not in HOF
192Mark Carrier69DB-1.6%Not in HOF
193Everson Walls84DB-1.6%Not in HOF
194Pepper Johnson76LB-1.5%Not in HOF
195Ray Childress90DT-DE-1.5%Not in HOF
196Fred Dean73DE-1.5%Hall of Fame
197Terry McDaniel69DB-1.5%Not in HOF
198Mo Lewis91LB-1.5%Not in HOF
199Leslie O'Neal88DE-LB-1.4%Not in HOF
200Dick Butkus78LB-1.4%Hall of Fame
201Art Still73DE-1.4%Not in HOF
202Champ Bailey112DB-1.4%Not in HOF
203Lemar Parrish87DB-1.3%Not in HOF
204Aaron Glenn72DB-1.3%Not in HOF
205Mike Stratton79LB-1.2%Not in HOF
206Bob Golic73NT-DT-LB-DE-1.2%Not in HOF
207Chris Hanburger96LB-1.2%Hall of Fame
208Vince Wilfork91NT-DT-1.1%Not in HOF
209Erich Barnes73DB-1.1%Not in HOF
210Darnell Dockett72DT-1.1%Not in HOF
211Dave Butz80DT-DE-1%Not in HOF
212Richard Seymour90DE-DT-1%Not in HOF
213Karl Mecklenburg92LB-DE-0.8%Not in HOF
214Shaun Ellis75DE-0.8%Not in HOF
215Raymond Clayborn76DB-0.8%Not in HOF
216Cortez Kennedy101DT-0.8%Hall of Fame
217Willie McGinest77DE-LB-0.8%Not in HOF
218Joe Nash76NT-DT-0.7%Not in HOF
219Nick Buoniconti103LB-0.7%Hall of Fame
220Justin Smith98DE-0.7%Not in HOF
221John Abraham91DE-0.7%Not in HOF
222Mike Peterson72LB-0.6%Not in HOF
223LeRoy Irvin69DB-0.6%Not in HOF
224Keith Hamilton73DT-DE-0.6%Not in HOF
225Brad Van Pelt70LB-0.5%Not in HOF
226Miller Farr72DB-0.5%Not in HOF
227Karlos Dansby79LB-0.4%Not in HOF
228Scott Studwell70LB-0.3%Not in HOF
229Larry Wilson85DB-0.2%Hall of Fame
230James Hasty81DB-0.2%Not in HOF
231Ndamukong Suh74DT-0.2%Not in HOF
232Tim McDonald71DB-0.1%Not in HOF
233Rick Volk71DB-0.1%Not in HOF
234Deion Sanders117DB-WR0%Hall of Fame
235Greg Ellis70DE0%Not in HOF
236Darrell Green101DB0%Hall of Fame
237Cameron Wake70LB0%Not in HOF
238Bryan Cox72LB0.1%Not in HOF
239Dave Wilcox73LB0.2%Hall of Fame
240Jacob Green81DE0.4%Not in HOF
241Cornelius Bennett90LB0.4%Not in HOF
242Bill Bergey84LB0.4%Not in HOF
243Chester McGlockton79DT-DE0.4%Not in HOF
244John Randle107DT-DE0.5%Hall of Fame
245Cris Dishman75DB0.5%Not in HOF
246Lawyer Milloy79DB0.6%Not in HOF
247Jared Allen104DE0.7%Not in HOF
248Derrick Johnson80LB0.8%Not in HOF
249Donnie Edwards84LB0.8%Not in HOF
250Ken Riley92DB0.9%Not in HOF
251Andre Tippett90LB1%Hall of Fame
252Fred Smerlas81NT-DT1%Not in HOF
253Mike Curtis78LB-FB1%Not in HOF
254Tamba Hali77DE1.2%Not in HOF
255Bob Baumhower82NT1.2%Not in HOF
256Dwight Freeney79DE1.5%Not in HOF
257Takeo Spikes84LB1.6%Not in HOF
258Lee Roy Selmon73DE-DT1.6%Hall of Fame
259Darryl Talley72LB1.9%Not in HOF
260Chip Banks72LB1.9%Not in HOF
261Jimmy Johnson100DB-HB2.1%Hall of Fame
262Chris Spielman74LB2.1%Not in HOF
263Mark Gastineau79DE2.2%Not in HOF
264Kevin Williams99DT-DE2.3%Not in HOF
265La'Roi Glover91DT-NT2.3%Not in HOF
266Reggie Williams72LB2.4%Not in HOF
267Robert Brazile74LB2.6%Not in HOF
268Bryant Young89DT-DE2.7%Not in HOF
269Clay Matthews94LB2.8%Not in HOF
270Jerry Ball72NT-DT2.8%Not in HOF
271Keith Brooking81LB2.9%Not in HOF
272Houston Antwine70DT-DE3.1%Not in HOF
273Larry Grantham85LB3.1%Not in HOF
274Matt Blair72LB3.5%Not in HOF
275Aeneas Williams104DB4%Hall of Fame
276Joe Klecko72DT-NT-DE4.1%Not in HOF
277Mario Williams76DE4.4%Not in HOF
278Dave Brown73DB4.5%Not in HOF
279Julian Peterson75LB7.1%Not in HOF
280Roger Wehrli82DB7.1%Hall of Fame
281Jessie Tuggle72LB8.7%Not in HOF

What stands out to you? One fun thing to do is sort by career AV and then take a look at the outliers. Bruce Smith and especially Deion Sanders stand out as surprises to me in that regard.  What do you think?

  • Adam

    This is pretty cool! What method did you use to estimate DVOA for the older players?

  • Lots of teammates clustered together as expected. So hard to answer the old “Chicken or the Egg” discussion with defensive players – particularly with teams that were littered with talent at all levels of defense like the Ravens, 70s Steelers or 60s Packers.

  • The amount of separation Jessie Tuggle has from anyone else and then that Roger Wehrli and Julian Peterson have over the field is pretty amazing.

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  • Frank Yi

    Joe Klecko stands out to me. Kind of surprising that the NY Sack Exchange had the 6th highest average DVOA here

    276 Joe Klecko 72 DT-NT-DE 4.1% Not in HOF

  • Steven J. Gordon

    Four of the top eight players listed spent substantial parts of their careers with the great Ravens defenses of the first decade of the 21st Century. There are similar, but lesser, concentrations of talent among the 1970s Steelers and other great defenses of course. One reason why great defenses dominate is that they have great players. This list shows that well if you look at it for a while.