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Top 25 Hardest NFL Players to Tackle

In the National Football League, defensive coordinators spend countless hours each week trying to prepare their teams for their next opponent's offense. They tweak their schemes and formations, adjust personnel packages, and draw up their list of stunts, coverages, and blitzes that they hope will confuse opposing offenses and/or put the defense in a position to make the play.

But if the defenders can't tackle the ball carrier, all of this preparation is for naught.

That's why NFL players who are hard to tackle are so valuable to their teams. Because even when a defense does everything right, an offensive play can still succeed if a player can avoid or run over a tackler (or two or three).

And this trait is one that is very difficult to teach. Given that contact practices are being limited throughout all levels of football, it becomes that much harder for a player to get the repetitions they need to develop a consistent ability to break tackles or juke defenders. Therefore, a running back, receiver, kick returner, or quarterback who does possess the ability to cause "unsuccessful" tackles is worth his weight in gold.

Of course, NFL fans absolutely love to see players who are difficult to bring down. Watching a ball carrier dodge, duck under, or power through tackles is exciting and awe-inspiring. That's why some of the greats are so popular even today - whether it's tanks like Earl Campbell and Bronco Nagurski or magicians like Emmett Smith or Barry Sanders. With people who can shrug off tacklers, the play is never over until the referee's whistle sounds.

So who are the players in the NFL today who cause dread in the hearts of defensive coaches? Here are 25 men who are the hardest to bring to the ground in today's NFL.

25 25. Jack Doyle - TE, Indianapolis Colts

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

24 24. Jonathan Stewart - RB, Carolina Panthers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

23 23. Maurice Jones-Drew - RB, Oakland Raiders

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

22 22. Trent Richardson - RB, Indianapolis Colts

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

21 21. Fred Jackson - RB, Buffalo Bills

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

20 20. Chris Johnson - RB, New York Jets

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

19 19. James Starks - RB, Green Bay Packers

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

18 18. LeGarrette Blount - RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

17 17. Golden Tate - WR, Detroit Lions

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

16 16. Cordarrelle Patterson - WR, Minnesota Vikings

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

15 15. Andre Ellington - RB, Arizona Cardinals

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

14 14. Rob Gronkowski - TE, New England Patriots

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

13 13. Chris Ivory - RB, New York Jets

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

12 12. Giovani Bernard - RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

11 11. Eddie Lacy - RB, Green Bay Packers

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

10 10. Donald Brown - RB, San Diego Chargers

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

9 9. Cam Newton - QB, Carolina Panthers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

8 8. Darren Sproles - RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

7 7. LeSean McCoy - RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

6 6. Jamaal Charles - RB, Kansas City Chiefs

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

5 5. DeMarco Murray - RB, Dallas Cowboys

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

4 4. Calvin Johnson - WR, Detroit Lions

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

3  3. Russell Wilson - QB, Seattle Seahawks

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2 2. Marshawn Lynch - RB, Seattle Seahawks

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

1 1. Adrian Peterson - RB, Minnesota Vikings

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It's ironic that it would take an off-the-field incident to stop AP, given that he's virtually unstoppable while on the gridiron. After his astounding 2,097 rushing yard performance in 2012 coming off a knee injury the previous year, Peterson followed it up with an impressive 1,266-yard, 10 TD season in 2013. Given his unmatched combination of speed, quickness, and power, Peterson is the hardest NFL player to tackle, regardless of his off-field problems.

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Top 25 Hardest NFL Players to Tackle