Dec 29, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) celebrates after New England stopped the Buffalo Bills on a fourth down during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Top 10 NFL Defensive Ends In the League

Few positions draw more attention across the NFL landscape than the defensive ends.  So who ranks the best of the best?

#10 – Ezekiel Ansah – Detroit Lions

Did playing with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley inflate his stats a tad?  Hard to say but to get eight sacks as a rookie despite missing two games shows that Ezekiel Ansah should be a force at defensive end for the near and far future.  He must improve consistency and stay healthy, which is typical for all young players.

#9 – Cameron Wake – Miami Dolphins

He wasn’t as dominant as his 2012 campaign but Cameron Wake continues to take changes around him in stride.  After proving himself in the CFL and then playing outside linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, he made the shift to defensive end and hasn’t slowed down at age 32.

#8 – Chandler Jones – New England Patriots

It was tough to get on board with the New England Patriots defense for most of 2013 but one of their bright spots was Chandler Jones.  He was their best player and most consistent pass rusher with 11.5 sacks.  Most of them came without Vince Wilfork in the middle, too.  That is a testament to his ability.

#7 – Calais Campbell – Arizona Cardinals

Defensive ends in the 3-4 scheme did not used to make their name rushing the passer but that has begun to change.  Calais Campbell is one of the prime examples in the NFL.  Not only was he a force against the run, his nine sacks in 2013 helped turn the Arizona Cardinals defense into one of the best in football.

#6 – Jared Allen – Chicago Bears

Year after year “the Mullet” keeps doing his job.  Jared Allen may do only one thing really well at defensive end, but when it’s sacking the quarterback, nobody will complain.  He has five Pro Bowls to his credit and hasn’t had fewer than 10 sacks in a season since 2007.

#5 – Muhammad Wilkerson – New York Jets

The New York Jets fielded one of the best defensive lines in the NFL in 2013.  Leading the way was Pro Bowler Muhammad Wilkerson with 10.5 sacks, 63 tackles, and an interception.  He hasn’t missed a game in three seasons and is still only 24-years old.  If he’s not the best currently, he can be in the near future.

#4 – Cameron Jordan – New Orleans Saints

Turning a bad defense into a good defense usually takes the efforts of more than one man.  While that is true for the New Orleans Saints, another truth is their remarkable turnaround from dead last in 2012 to 4th in 2013 was thanks to the presence of Cameron Jordan.  His emergence as premier pass rusher is key for the Saints in their Super Bowl contention.

#3 – Greg Hardy – Carolina Panthers

All one need say to understand the value of Greg Hardy to the Carolina Panthers is 26.  That is how many sacks the 25 year-old defensive end has over the past two seasons.  It has helped the Panthers defense become one of the best in the NFL.  “The Kraken” certainly has plenty of good years left and more Pro Bowls to make.

#2 – Robert Quinn – St. Louis Rams

No player in the league is unblockable, but St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn is as close to it as it gets.  From a pure pass rush perspective there might not be anybody better.  The sheer speed he comes off the snap with and his ability to beat blockers allowed him to pile up 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles in 2013 alone.

#1 – J.J. Watt – Houston Texans

The problem is Quinn just isn’t J.J. Watt.  Nicknamed “the Milk Man” by teammates because he always delivers, the Houston Texans superstar not only has more sacks than Quinn over the past two seasons, he also has way more tackles, proving he’s equally good against the run as he is rushing the passer.  Throw in his uncanny ability to bat down passes and you have a complete football player.

Tags: Arizona Cardinals Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears Detroit Lions Houston Texans Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New Orleans Saints New York Jets NFL St. Louis Rams

  • trinity

    Excellent list. JJ Watt is the best defensive force in the league to me. I can’t wait to see him with clowney.

    • Erik Lambert

      That front is going to be VERY scary. Especially if Louis Nix swallows up the run.

  • kevin

    As a rams fan, jj is the best

    • Erik Lambert

      Quinn is great, but yes he is.

  • Johnny

    You are crazy to rank Cam Wake so low!!! He had a injury last year.. But when he got back he was a force.. (aka. Sack Safety in OT vs. Cincy for the win).. You need to factor all the holding penalties he caused against him.. When he turns the corner he’s almost parallel to the ground…

    • Erik Lambert

      There is no question he’s a nightmare to handle but you have to realize the competition for this list is steep. Wake had to fight off somebody on his own team first and foremost, then you factor in his age, the injury, the drop in production and the lack of winning and it drops him down the list.

      • Johnny

        If your basing it only on stats… Put our unknown DE Vernon for Miami, who put up 11.5 sacks.. 3rd round pick in his 2nd year…who had more sacks then most if this list.. Arizona Cambell in front of Wake??.. But in other statements about some DEs your counting their “presence”… Wake has a presence in which teams have to game-plan for…
        JUST SAYING…

        • Erik Lambert

          That’s the point. Did Vernon benefit from Wake being there or the other way around? Both deserved to be on the list but Wake is more proven over time. Campbell had more sacks than Wake last year and more tackles.

  • pboi619

    I’ll take as a Rams fan only thing JJ Watt is flat out beating Quinn in is Tackles…but they are both scary and both have similar sack numbers JJ Watt 36.5 sacks Robert Quinn 34.5 sacks over 3yrs both where in the same draft class which makes it that much awesome

    • Erik Lambert

      They are the best pass rushers in the game today. Remarkably similar despite the fact they play in opposite systems.

      • pboi619

        Not only that i forgot Aldon Smith was in the same draft also….who i think should be on this list even though i hate the Whiners but i always give respect where its do and the 2011 draft created some great pass rushers Robert Quinn, JJ Watt, Aldon Smith, Cameron Jordan,muhammad wilkerson,Von Miller…just a great class maybbe when its all said and done we can say we seen the best pass rusher in NFL history

        • Erik Lambert

          Smith is an outside linebacker.

          • pboi619

            Yeah i know i realize that after i post it forgot 9ers run 3-4 base D

          • Erik Lambert

            Simple mistake.

  • Michael Stenger

    Ziggy should be higher on the next year, especially with Van Noy blitzing next to him! I think those two will be scary together! I don’t feel like Fairley/Suh really made him that much better. Need to remember, Ziggy didn’t grow up playing the sport, the dude is just an athletic freak.

    I personally, would put Allen and Wake up a spot or two. Allen might not have huge sack totals like Quinn, but he’s been so consistent throughout his career. He’s always in the QB’s face, always causing disruption.

    • Erik Lambert

      I’m very curious to see what happens for Allen when he’s rushing across from Lamarr Houston. Wake is very good but his injury last year, drop in production from 2012 and lack of playoff success are what landed him where he is.

    • Herman Moore

      Ansah never played football until he walked on at BYU as a sophomore, and he was used only sporadically until his senior year, when he started nine games.Between his freakish athletic ability and his inexperience, there’s no way to judge how good he can eventually be.

  • Ksp48

    Funny, I don’t see Peppers name there. Sarcasm.

    • Erik Lambert

      He’s an outside linebacker now.