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AFC East's best: No. 14 Sione Pouha

By Tim Graham

PouhaMugA countdown of my top 25 AFC East players continues, one weekday at a time ...

The choice

I have a feeling a lot of readers will scoff at this selection because they've never heard of New York Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha, let alone can they recall anything he's ever done on the field.

Pouha is relatively unknown to the casual football fan because he has an unglamorous responsibility: stuffing the run. But Pouha does it extraordinarily well. rated Pouha the NFL's best defensive tackle last season. Nose tackles don't amass the types of stats that make a player's impact obvious. They don't get many sacks. They don't even make many tackles. What they do is absorb double-team blocks and clog holes, allowing linebackers to clean up.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan made Pouha a captain on a defense that prides itself on stopping the run. With Pouha in the middle, the Jets' defense ranked sixth in average per carry last year, tied for third in 2010 and fourth in 2009.

Over the three years since Pouha became the starter, the Jets have held opponents to the NFL's lowest third-down conversion rate, second-fewest yards a game, fourth-lowest per-carry average and fifth-lowest points a game.

Pouha led the Jets' defensive line with 55 tackles last year. He had one sack, a tackle for a safety, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and three passes batted down.

Fast fact

A day before the free-agency period began, the Jets signed Pouha to a three-year, $15 million contract extension.

How acquired

Selected in the third round (88th overall) in the 2005 draft.

Hint about No. 13

It either will be another underrated defensive tackle or Tim Tebow.

Picks to date

14. Sione Pouha, Jets defensive tackle
15. Jairus Byrd, Bills safety
16. Brandon Lloyd, Patriots receiver
17. Stevie Johnson, Bills receiver
18. Reggie Bush, Dolphins running back
19. Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebacker
20. Randy Starks, Dolphins defensive lineman
21. Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots right tackle
22. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots tight end
23. Marcell Dareus, Bills defensive tackle
24. Antonio Cromartie, Jets cornerback
25. Eric Wood, Bills center

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |