It wasn't until some point late in 2010 that we started hearing some of the national media say good things about Justin Smith. Rather, that was the point in which we starting hearing things about him being one of the best in the business. I recall Pro Football Focus, a site I'm not a fan of due to their questionable rankings, posting several pieces on why Smith was and is a certified badass.
Then last year, we started seeing the 49ers media really talk about how under-appreciated Smith is. Then we'd see a piece in USA Today or something along those lines. Jared Allen's name stopped popping up and Smith's name dominated the headlines. If you recall, when the 49ers signed Smith, there was a chance that the team could have acquired Allen, and it was a somewhat controversial signing given that fact.
Allen was available for trade, and as we all know, he has been a sack machine, nearing the NFL record (I really wish he was able to best it, considering the fact that the current record holder was handed the title), but isn't shut-down in the run game. Smith also nears him in things like QB pressures and hits. Make the jump for more.
Smith wasn't named the defensive player of the year, but I believe he should have been. In fact, I believe Justin Smith is the best defensive player in the NFL. I would take Smith's unrelenting motor over any player in the NFL today and I don't even have to think hard about it. Smith is better than Allen, for one, and I personally don't think any other position on defense has a player worth going over Smith for.
I personally believe that cornerback is the most important position on defense. A top tier cornerback is severely important, and yet I would not take guys like Darelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha over Smith - not by a longshot. Smith was recently named one of the seven most dominant players in the NFL by the official website, while PFF once again put him at the top of their defensive rankings - the second best player in the NFL, by their reckoning.
So I wanted to open the discussion with a simple question - is there any player on defense in the NFL that you'd consider over Smith? The only reason I could see picking another player is based on age and returns over the future. Maybe you're a fan of Ndamukong Suh (I personally am not - the guy is horrid against the run), and though you think Smith is better, you think Suh is a smarter option? I am most interested in seeing if there's anybody you guys would take straight-up, age not being a factor.