- Terry Blount, ESPN Staff Writer
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RENTON, Wash. -- Three Seattle Seahawks already have made the list in ESPN.com's countdown of the top 100 NFL players on offense and defense.
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane was on Monday's list at No. 94 on defense. Center Max Unger came in at No. 84 on offense in Tuesday's countdown and linebacker Bruce Irvin is No. 87 on the defensive countdown.
We polled 90 experts to rate each player on a 0-to-10 scale, with 10 being the best regardless of position in the NFL. Ties, as denoted by an asterisk, were broken by determining which player had more ballots with the higher number (if players are tied, the player with three 10s is ranked higher than the player with two 10s; if the tied players had the same amount of highest numbers -- each with two 10s -- we moved to the next number: three 9s beats two 9s).
Here is the full list of voters from ESPN.
It's interesting that Unger and Mebane appear on the list so close together, two men who face each other regularly in practice. When Unger was asked recently who is the toughest defensive tackle he has faced in the NFL, he didn't hesitate.
“I have to face him every day,” Unger said. “It's Brandon Mebane. The man is absolutely unblockable. The best you can do is hope to steer him in the wrong direction. What makes him so good is he never gets above your knees. He is able to stay so low and keep his strength in pushing forward, and you can't stop him.”
Mebane (6-1, 310) didn't have a sack last season, but he is the man who often enabled the players around him to get sacks because he often is taking on two blockers.
While defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett were making the big plays fans often cheered, Mebane was the man clogging up the middle and causing problems for interior offensive linemen. He consistently gets penetration off his low leverage, disrupting the opposing offense and opening things up for other Seahawks to make a stop, like middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
ESPN Stats & Information came up with this interesting tidbit on Mebane: The Seahawks allowed 3.4 yards per rush with Mebane on the field last season, compared to 4.8 yards per rush without him. He is one of only two defensive tackles to start 16 games in each of the past three seasons.
Unger, 28, has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons and was named first team All-Pro in 2012. During those two seasons, the Seahawks have averaged 149.0 rush yards per game, second most in the NFL (Redskins -- 152.3).
Irvin, 26, was on the field for 55 percent of the rushes against the Seahawks last season. The Seahawks allowed almost a full yard less per rush with Irvin on field (3.5) than off field (4.4).
6dDoug Clawson, ESPN Stats & Information