Friday, February 3, 2012
Greg Hardy, Adrian Clayborn all-around DEs
By Pat Yasinskas
Carolina’s Greg Hardy and Tampa Bay rookie Adrian Clayborn weren’t among the NFL’s sack leaders in 2011, but you can make the argument they’re among the best all-around defensive ends in the game.
Hardy and Clayborn showed some pass-rush skills, but they also played the run very well. That combination of skills was why they were on the field more than the rest of the NFC South defensive ends last season.
Hardy led division ends by participating in 891 of Carolina’s 1,023 defensive plays. That 87.1 percentage ranked Hardy No. 6 among defensive ends. Minnesota’s Jared Allen led the league at 94.3 percent.
Clayborn wasn’t far behind Hardy. Clayborn came in at 80.9 percent, which put him No. 15 in the NFL. Carolina’s Charles Johnson and New Orleans’ Will Smith also ranked in the top 20.
Johnson was on the field for 77.5 percent (No. 16 in the NFL) of Carolina’s defensive plays and Smith took part in 75.8 of New Orleans’ defensive plays (19th in the league).
Ray Edwards led Atlanta’s defensive ends by taking part in 69 percent of the plays. Although he was on a play count and used mostly in pass-rushing situations, veteran John Abraham took part in 61.8 percent of Atlanta’s defensive plays.
Here’s a look at playing-time percentages for most of the rest of the NFC South defensive ends: