A defensive tackle in pro football may be called upon to fill several different roles, including holding the point of attack and stopping the run, or penetrating a certain gap between offensive linemen to break up a play in the opponent's backfield. A defensive tackle is an important pass rusher as well, since inside pressure may help to free the defensive ends or blitzing linebackers in their pass rush.
The Vikings have had a number of outstanding tackles during their seasons when they fielded dominant defenses. Here are the top seven at the position in franchise history:
7) Doug Sutherland: Sutherland played in 138 games during his 10 years with the Vikings, starting 90. He plugged the middle of the defensive line at left tackle during the mid 1970's when the team had highly rated defenses.
6) Keith Millard: Selected All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl twice, Millard was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 when he recorded 18 sacks. Millard was a key piece of the team's outstanding defenses in the late '80's, appearing in 75 games during his six years with the Vikes.
5) Kevin Williams: A six time Pro Bowl selection at defensive tackle, Williams has started all 140 games he has appeared in. He ranks ninth with 54.5 QB sacks, has knocked down 54 passes, forced 8 fumbles, and recovered 10, returning two for touchdowns. Williams has also intercepted 4 passes, bringing back two for scores.
4) Henry Thomas: Selected to two Pro Bowls while appearing in 118 games and starting 117, Thomas ranks sixth in tackles-for-loss with 62. He is eighth with 56 sacks, forced 12 fumbles, and recovered 8, returning two for touchdowns. He also had two interceptions and notched a safety.
3) Gary Larsen: A member of one of the best front fours in NFL history, defensive tackle Larsen played in 135 games, starting 107, in 10 seasons for the Vikings. He recorded 37 sacks, recovered 10 fumbles, and was named to two Pro Bowls.
2) John Randle: A standout defensive tackle who played in 176 games and started 150, Randle was named to six Pro Bowls in his 11 seasons with the Vikings. He recovered 9 fumbles, ranks third in forced fumbles with 25, and is third in QB sacks with 114. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2010.
1) Alan Page: A defensive tackle who changed the game in the late 1960's and early 1970's, Page was named the NFL Most Valuable Player in 1971. Selected to the Pro Bowl nine times in his 12 years with the Vikings, he played in 160 games and started 157. He is fourth in team history with 108.5 sacks, fourth with 18 fumble recoveries, third with 77 tackles-for-loss, and second with 28 forced fumbles. Page was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1988.