Justin Tuck, Trent Cole among top DEs

June, 21, 2011
What's a day without a rankings list this NFL offseason? Today's comes to us from The New York Times' Andy Benoit, who ranks the top 10 pass-rushing defensive ends in the NFL. Two NFC East pass-rushers make the list -- the Giants' Justin Tuck at No. 3 and the Eagles' Trent Cole at No. 7. Here's what Benoit had to say about Tuck:
Didn't make quite as many splash plays in 2010, but his leverage, strength, polished technique and shrewd awareness always make him a down-to-down force.

I can't argue with Tuck's placement on the list. I agree that he's as consistent a defensive star as the league has. And I think, as some aspects the Giants' defense have been in-and-out and occasionally unreliable over the past couple of seasons, Tuck has remained rock-solid on the field and in the locker room. Only the Colts' Dwight Freeney and the Bears' Julius Peppers ranked ahead of Tuck on Benoit's list, and while Tuck might disagree, I'd find it hard to rank him ahead of either of those guys.

On Cole, Benoit had this to say:
Not in the first tier of pass rushers, but has a motor that warrants a stale Energizer Bunny joke (you can insert your own). Uses his tremendous initial quickness to fire in any direction off the snap, making him nearly impossible to contain against the run.

Surely, folks in Philadelphia appreciate Cole and what he's done. And while he may not be recognized around the country as an elite pass-rushing talent, this kind of placement on this kind of list is surely warranted. The three between Tuck and him are Jason Babin, Justin Smith and Mario Williams. Interestingly, Babin is a free agent who has been mentioned in a few places as a possible target for the Eagles. A pairing of Cole and Babin at DE would change the look of that Eagles' front in a terrifying way -- especially with the addition of new defensive line coach Jim Washburn.

Benoit gave the Giants' Osi Umemyiora an honorable mention, which is likely to prompt Umenyiora to call him a "New York Times Fifth Down Blog gangster," or something of the sort.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter



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