A panel of writers from espn.com ranks Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu as the top defensive player in the NFL. View the rankings, courtesy of espn.com, below.

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu

During the unprecedented offseason of 2011, ESPN.com has ranked the top pass-rushers in the NFL. We've ordered linebackers, rated cornerbacks and chosen the league's top 10 safeties as well. Now it's time to start putting it all together.

This week's challenge: Meld those four ballots into a single list of the NFL's 10 best defensive players. The subtle shift in parameters required us to consider not only a player's individual impact, but the overall importance of his position to the game. Both in the draft and in the free-agent market, NFL teams place premium value on pass-rushers and interior defensive linemen. Other positions, most notably safeties, are relegated to secondary priorities. So in that sense, it's both remarkable and telling that Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was the unanimous top choice of our committee.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcnorth/post/_/id/27187/power-rankings-top-10-defensive-players