Top 7 Defensive Ends In Football Heading Into 09

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4-3 Defensive Ends
The defensive end is the money-maker in a 4-3 scheme. The pass-rush – which is the most important element of defense today – should be spearheaded from this position. Of course, it’s not usually enough for a DE to be only a speed-rusher; the best in the game are also stifling run-defenders. Here are the NFL’s Top Seven 4-3 DE’s.

7. Trent Cole, Eagles

Perfect leverage makes him darn near uncontainable. Doesn’t face as many double teams as other guys on this list.

6. Justin Tuck, Giants

A versatile force who is capable of winning every one-on-one matchup.

5. Osi Umenyiora, Giants

A slightly quicker though more finesse version of Tuck (assuming he rebounds from ’08 knee injury).

4. Dwight Freeney, Colts

Still draws more attention on passing downs than anyone in the game.

3. Julius Peppers, Panthers

Better athlete than football player, but that’s okay when you’re arguably the best athlete in the league.

2. Jared Allen, Vikings

Almost a lock to notch 15 sacks every season. Superb raw ability is buttressed by his tenacity.

1. Mario Williams, Texans

A man without weaknesses who excels on all four downs despite facing constant double teams. Probably the best run-stopping defensive end in football.

Also considered: John Abraham, Falcons; Patrick Kerney, Seahawks

3-4 Defensive Ends

Defensive end has become a more important position in 3-4 defenses in recent years (for elaboration, read this). A 3-4 defensive scheme is built to stop the pass, though stopping the pass stems from first stopping the run. That’s the primary job of the ends. Here are the Top Seven 3-4 defensive ends in football.

7. Justin Smith, 49ers

Not a prototype for this position, but he’s a player who does everything well.

6. Aaron Smith, Steelers

Headlines Pittsburgh’s potent three-DE rotation.

5. Ty Warren, Patriots

Gets underappreciated in the shadows of Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork; plays with splendid all-around technique.

4. Glenn Dorsey, Chiefs

Hasn’t really played this position until this year, but based on what he showed last season, he’ll be challenging for the No. 1 ranking by 2010.

3. Luis Castillo, Chargers

When he’s healthy, there isn’t a more disruptive, energetic player.

2. Haloti Ngata, Ravens

Has surprising quickness for a man with such power.

1. Richard Seymour, Patriots

A future Hall of Famer. The more someone knows about football, the more they admire the ninth-year pro.

Also considered: Kendall Langford, Dolphins; Shaun Ellis, Jets; Marcus Spears, Cowboys

By Andy Benoit

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