NFL Nose Tackle

The defensive nose tackle (aka nose guard or middle guard) is the most important player in a 3 4 or 4 3 defense.He is the largest and most physical demanding player in the NFL.

A 3-4 nose guard primary job is to stop the run and take on double teams, (which means getting block by the centerand guard) thus freeing up the linebackers to make tackles and rush the quarterback.

A 4-3 middle guard is required to penetrate the inside "A" gap and often loop around and be responsible for containing the "C" gap.

Then there are 3-4 defensive ends who really aren't ends, but instead work down into the "B" gap to defending power running plays.

Then there is the hard-to-find, 4-3 three-technique tackle who is asked to penetrate and be disruptive.

It takes a special kind of player to develop into an effective middle guard, and it starts with a rare set of physical tools.

Players with good movement skills and the combination of size and strength to hold up on the inside -- often against double-teams -- are simply hard to find.

It takes more than just girth and brute strength, though. These prospects need the tenacity to regularly fight off multiple blockers and the mindset to take pride in doing the dirty work without getting much recognition.

The ideal nose tackle weighs around 330 lbs to 350 lbs with long arms, someone you can't move. He can hold off a 300 pound offensive lineman while tackling the running back.

Nose guards like these are hard to find. Ted Washington come to mind when I think of a ideal nose tackle during his era.

The "nose guard" or "middle guard" were more commonly used with the five-man defensive line of the older 5-2 defense.

This was effective against the inside run but not the short pass, the 5-2 defense was phased out of the pro game in the 1950s, but is still during goal-line defense and by some D1,D2 and D3 college programs.

In the 4-3 defense, the middle linebacker replaced the middle guard. In the 3 4 defense the middle linebackers and the outside linebacker replaced defensive tackles.

The top defensive nose tackle in a 3 4 defense as of 2011 are:

  • B.J. Raji, Packers
  • Casey Hampton, Steelers
  • Sione Pouha New York Jets
  • Jay Ratliff Dallas Cowboys
  • Vince Wilfork New England Patroits