The National Football League is chock-full of some of the most intimidating human beings on the planet. And while most NFL players could come across as intimidating to the average American, only a select few have the ability to intimidate their peers and opposing coaching staffs around the league. Here we show you the 10 most intimidating players in the NFL today.
1. Michael Bennett, DE, Seattle Seahawks
It’s truly hard to fathom that Bennett entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. The former Texas A&M standout has developed into one of the premier defensive ends in the league, and the Seahawks likely wouldn’t have won Super Bowl XLVIII without his contributions to their historically dominant defense.
The 6-foot-4, 274-pounder is a physical specimen. The attitude and swagger he plays with are game-changing attributes that help make the Seahawks one of the most feared defensive teams in the game.
2. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Miami Dolphins
Since entering the league in 2010, Suh has a well-earned reputation for being one of the nastiest players in the NFL. The six-time All-Pro is likely a future Hall of Famer, and his playing style should serve as a model for young interior defensive linemen. At the same time, some of his antics on the field have taken away from his dominance as a player.
While Suh is one of the most dominant defensive tackles in recent NFL history, the former Nebraska Cornhusker is widely regarded as one of the dirtiest players of all time as well. With that being the case, Suh inclusion on this list of most intimidating players in the NFL should come as no surprise.
3. James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Harrison may be 39 years old, but opponents still think the former undrafted free agent is one of the most intimidating players in the league. A near perfect embodiment of what an “old school” NFL linebacker should look and act like, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year will likely join the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. Simply put: Harrison’s intensity and attitude are legendary.
In a vote among NFL players in 2012 on who was the most violent and dangerous player in the league, Harrison garnered 67.5% of the votes from his peers around the league.
4. Tyron Smith, LT, Dallas Cowboys
Smith may be the most physically imposing player in the NFL today. The four-time All-Pro measures in at 6-foot-5 and 320-pounds, yet he still has a chiseled physique that makes him look more like a tight end than an offensive lineman. Bottom line: Smith is an absolute freak of nature and one of the best offensive tackles in the league.
5. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
When healthy, Watt looks like a man amongst boys on the field. And when you truly think about that, it’s nothing short of amazing.
The future Hall of Famer regularly makes some of the best offensive linemen in the league look silly and massively physically inferior. Not only is Watt intimidating to opposing offensive players, he is also a nightmare for opposing coaches to gameplan against.
Looking forward, if Watt is able to recapture the form that led to him winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2012, 2014, and 2015, the Texans are going to be incredibly hard to beat.
6. Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks
When it comes down to it, Chancellor is just a good, old-fashioned defensive enforcer. At 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, the two-time All-Pro looks more like a linebacker than a safety. A key component to the Seahawks’ vaunted “Legion of Boom” secondary, he’s helped revolutionize the strong safety position in the NFL.
Additionally, Chancellor’s play and reputation has resulted in opposing wide receivers almost always thinking twice about going over the middle against the Seahawks.
7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers
Kuechly is the prototypical NFL inside linebacker. Not only is he an outstanding player and likely on his way to eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is also the type of player that has an intimidating presence.
This kind of goes without saying, but opposing offenses have to know where Kuechly is lined up on every play. And in our eyes, that can be extremely intimidating.
8. Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos
Miller may not be as physically imposing as others, but he still just might be the most intimidating defensive player in the NFL today. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder has wide receiver-caliber speed, and is widely regarded as the best pass rusher and most disruptive defensive player in the league right now. His first step and ability to bend around the edge make life miserable for opposing offensive linemen, and he almost single-handedly carried the Broncos to the Super Bowl 50 title.
In our eyes, the fact that Miller requires just as much if not more attention from opposing offenses than any other player in the league makes him incredibly intimidating.
9. Joe Thomas, LT, Cleveland Browns
The fact that Thomas has had to toil in obscurity for the bulk of his career is a shame. The nine-time All-Pro could end up being a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he has yet to play in a postseason game and he likely won’t anytime soon (unless the Browns trade him).
When it comes to the intimidation factor, there are very few players in Thomas’ class. The former Wisconsin Badger has proven to have the ability to virtually eliminate the impact of some of the game’s best defensive linemen and edge defenders, and he is undoubtedly one of the toughest players in the league (he has yet to miss a game in his 10-year career).
10. Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos
Is Talib among the most physically intimidating players in the league? No. Does he qualify as a defensive enforcer? No. So, why did he make our list? When it comes to getting into an opponent’s head and mentally intimidating his competition, Talib is nearly unmatched.
Don’t be fooled, though. Talib is far more than just another mouthy cornerback. The two-time All-Pro almost always backs up his trash talk and has shut down some of the game’s best wide receivers.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.