2/ Jonathan Vilma (free agent 2014)
Is there much question about this one? Vilma has proven time and again that he runs the defense and knows what defensive coordinator Gregg Williams wants before Williams calls it.
You rarely, if ever, see Vilma make the same mistake twice and he’s almost always in the right position to make the play. He’s a sideline-to-sideline defender and all but owns the box. While not quite as hard-hitting or as athletic as fellow University of Miami alum Ray Lewis, he’s every bit as smart and every bit the leader that Lewis is.
Vilma led the team with 105 tackles, including 71 of the solo variety. He had four sacks and three fumble recoveries this season.
And there’s no one on the roster who can fill in for him in total. Marvin Mitchell can play the position, but the influence of the middle linebacker fades when Mitchell is in and Vilma is out.