Execs, coaches, scouts rank the NFL's top 10 DTs for 2024

The disruptive Chris Jones has been a consistent favorite among NFL scouts and executives. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With 2024 NFL training camps on the horizon, the league's true insiders made their voices heard. ESPN surveyed league executives, coaches and scouts to help us rank the top 10 players at 11 different positions, from quarterback to cornerback and all positions in between. This was the fifth edition of these rankings, and as usual, several players moved up or fell off last year's lists.

A reminder of the rankings process: Voters gave us their best 10 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked 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, nearly 80 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. Additional voting and follow-up calls with those surveyed helped us break any ties.

Each section included quotes and nuggets from the voters on every ranked player -- even the honorable mentions. The objective was to identify the best players for 2024. This was not a five-year projection or a career achievement award. Who are the best players today?

We rolled out a position per day over 11 days. The schedule: running backs (7/8), defensive tackles (7/9), edge rushers (7/10), safeties (7/11), tight ends (7/12), interior offensive linemen (7/13), offensive tackles (7/14), quarterbacks (7/15), off-ball linebackers (7/16), wide receivers (7/17), cornerbacks (7/18).

The best player of the Top 10 series era is retired.

Aaron Donald consistently garnered more first-place votes than any other player in the four years of polling since we started this exercise in 2020. He's now departed, destined for Hall of Fame induction in 2029. And let's not forget about Fletcher Cox, a former No. 3 on this list who also retired.

What Donald did on the field won't be matched anytime soon. He took on more than 2,000 double-teams since 2017 and still smashed the defensive tackle field in pass rush win rate every year.

A new No. 1 has emerged to seize Donald's place on this list, and like Donald he has a Super Bowl pedigree and a Hall of Fame trajectory.

The competition at defensive tackle was fierce after the top spot, appropriate in a league where teams have prioritized the position in scheme and salary cap -- interior rushers can dominate a game. This year's voting showed that nearly two dozen players were worthy of top-10 consideration.

Below are the results and the context behind this year's interior defensive line class -- considering 4-3 tackles and 3-4 defensive ends -- after polling scouts, executives and coaches.