Now entering his eight season in the NFL, is former Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on track for a Hall of Fame career?
After being selected as the second overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh went on to record one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history.
Suh posted 66 total tackles and 10.0 sacks along with three pass defends and an interceptions his rookie campaign in the Motor City. The performance would earn him Pro Bowl and All-Pro first team honors as well as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Yet the controversial defender was never quite able to replicate that success in Detroit again, although he’s earned Pro Bowl honors four more times since. During his five seasons with the Lions, Suh recorded 239 total tackles and 36.0 sacks.
In early 2015, Suh bolted to join the Miami Dolphins to the tune of $114 million for six years. And without him, the Lions’ defense has suffered. During his final season in Detroit, their defense ranked second in the NFL. Without Suh in 2015, they dropped all the way down the rankings to 18th.
Suh’s mere presence along the line seems to make an impact. But is he on track to a Hall of Fame career? One NFL insider thinks so.
"“Suh was in headlines throughout the early portion of his career for dirty play, yet he’s widely recognized as one of the most intelligent players in the league,” wrote Around the NFL editor Gregg Rosenthal on the league’s official website. “His level of play can be ferocious in its intensity for months on end, but even his biggest fans can recognize there are inexplicable dry spells for such a great player. Some Lions fans may feel that he didn’t fulfill all of his potential in Detroit, but he played well enough to earn a record-breaking contract that the Miami Dolphins would do all over again.”"
Maybe the best barometer for Suh and a possible run at the Hall of Fame is the career of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp. A former first round selection himself (12th overall, 1995), Sapp had a 13-year NFL career.
Sapp was a seven-time Pro Bowler, was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999, and help the Bucs win a Super Bowl three years later. He was a first ballot Hall of Famer, who was inducted in 2013.
The 30-year old Suh certainly doesn’t have the hardware that Sapp possesses, but there is still time. The biggest thing that may hurt Ndamukong in his bid for a gold jacket is his lack of overall production. Through his first seven seasons in the NFL, Suh has recorded 47.0 sacks. In comparison, Sapp had a total of 64.5 sacks in his first seven years.
Last season in Miami, Ndamukong Suh recorded a career-high 72 combined tackles, six pass defends and 5.0 sacks.