Charles Johnson, DE, CAR - Johnson continues to produce like a top-tier defensive end, as Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh saw him make four solo tackles to go along with two sacks. That gives him 61 tackles (51 solo) and 11.5 sacks in 15 games. Despite being in his fourth year in the NFL, Johnson is only 24 years old, so he might not have even reached his full potential yet. There’s still the risk that he might be a one-year wonder, but Johnson is likely to be one of the top IDP selections in 2011 drafts.
Carlos Dunlap, DE, CIN - Dunlap is a bit of a head case who is always liable to loaf or underachieve, but he has shown in recent weeks that he is capable of big things when he puts his mind to his craft. Despite only playing extensively in the last nine weeks, Dunlap has totaled seven sacks this season, with six of them coming in the past month. If Dunlap keeps working hard and shows his coaches he can be trusted, he could easily be one of the league’s elite defensive ends.
Kyle Williams, DT, BUF - Williams has simply been a beast this year, putting up numbers that are almost inconceivable for a 3-4 nose tackle. His 71 tackles (49 solo) through 14 games would leave him with a 16-game projection of 81 tackles (56 solo)—numbers that are more appropriate for a starting linebacker than a defensive tackle in any scheme, let alone the 3-4. He also has 5.5 sacks so far this year.
Desmond Bishop, LB, GB - Bishop started out 2010 as a backup for Green Bay, but the Packers might have a difficult time keeping him out of the starting lineup in 2011. Since taking over as a starter in Week 5, Bishop has totaled 84 tackles (60 solo) in 10 games. That would leave him with a projection of 134 tackles (96 solo) over a 16-game season. If the Packers decide to part ways with one of their veteran middle linebackers before next season, Bishop could be a top linebacker IDP option.
Alterraun Verner, CB, TEN - Verner continues to have an impressive rookie season, particularly from an IDP perspective. Two games in a row with double-digit tackles have pushed his season total to 81, with 67 of those being solo tackles. He’s on pace to finish the season with 93 tackles, but his current pace is including games from early in the year, when he wasn’t a starter. Given that he seems to have made a permanent spot for himself in the starting lineup, finishing this season with 100 tackles isn’t out of the question.
Eric Weddle, S, SD - Weddle is officially one of the biggest IDP busts league-wide for 2010. After averaging 7.2 tackles per game during 2008 and 2009, which projects to a 115-tackle season, Weddle is averaging just 5.3 tackles per game in 2010. That leaves him on pace for 85 tackles this year, which would leave him falling well short of the expectations most had him for heading into this year.
Keith Brooking, LB, DAL - Between his foot injury and the increasing presence of Sean Lee in the Dallas defense, Brooking simply isn’t an IDP option at this point in the season. His last three games have seen him total just eight tackles (six solo), and there’s not much reason to expect improvement. This development could, in fact, mark the end of Brooking’s IDP relevance as far as his career goes, not just this season. Lee has a very good shot at overtaking him as a starter in 2011.
Jairus Byrd, S, BUF - Byrd is making many more tackles (75) this year than he did through 14 games last year (45), but the opposite has occurred with his interception totals, as he has zero interceptions in 2010 after totaling nine as a rookie last year. In fact, he only has one pass defended all year.
Brian Cushing, LB, HOU - With just three tackles (two solo) against Tennessee last week, Cushing now has an unremarkable total of 66 tackles (47 solo) in 10 games. That leaves him with a 16-game pace of just 106 total tackles and 75 solo after making 133 total tackles and 86 solo in 2009.
LaMarr Woodley, LB, PIT - Woodley is a very good player and he’s had a solid 2010 season to this point, but his numbers from this year don’t quite stack up to his previous accomplishments. The 48 tackles (34 solo) and 8.5 sacks through 15 games fall well short of his totals from his 15-game season in 2008, when he produced 60 tackles (41 solo) and 11.5 sacks. His pace from 2010 also falls below his 2009 marks of 62 tackles (50 solo) and 13.5 sacks.