In the Sunday Snide Remarks this week I made mention of several players being in the top five at their position. I received a slew of emails from readers saying I was being too vague, and that I needed to share my mysterious “top five” lists if I was going to reference them. So, this week I sat down and created the lists. It wasn’t easy.
These lists reflect who the best players are RIGHT NOW. History and past seasons are factored in, as well as what’s transgressed this season. Any players currently on IR will not show up on these lists.
In working on the defensive players, I couldn’t get over the significant differences between a 4-3 and a 3-4 scheme. How can you compare a pass-rushing 4-3 DE with a run-stopping 3-4 DE? Or, how can you compare what OLB Lance Briggs does in Chicago’s Cover 2 with what OLB DeMarcus Ware does in Dallas’s 3-4? You can’t.
In splitting up the schemes, I came up with this: ranking the defensive ends in a 4-3, Jared Allen is number one. He commands a constant double team off the edge while showing consistent strength against the run. I rank Green Bay’s Aaron Kampman No. 2 for the same reasons. Coming in a No. 3 (and rising) is Mario Williams, who is quite possibly the most powerful player at his position. Dwight Freeney is fourth because he still draws more attention than any pass-rusher in football. Finally, utility man extraordinaire Justin Tuck is fifth.
In a 3-4, Richard Seymour is easily the best defensive end. Luis Castillo is right behind him. At No. 3, you can’t ignore the progression of Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata. Same goes for Dallas’s Chris Canty, who is No. 4 on my list. Rounding out the top five is Corey Williams, not for what he’s done (or hasn’t done) in Cleveland, but for the sheer raw talent he possesses.