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'13 Player Rankings, Defense: 40-31

ESPN.com is ranking NFL players and counting them down (follow on Twitter -- @ESPNNFL) from No. 100 to No. 1 on offense and on defense, 10 per day for 10 days. The top 10 on both sides of the ball will be revealed on Friday, Aug. 30.

What is #NFLRank?

#NFLrank is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to get involved in the discussion or just follow along.

You can also follow along here: @ESPNNFL (NFL on ESPN) and on Facebook.

How did we rank the players?

We polled 63 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 highest number. (If players were tied, the player with three 10s was ranked higher than the player with two 10s. If the tied players had the same amount of the highest number -- each with two 10s -- we moved to the next number; three 9s beat two 9s).

Here is the full list of voters from ESPN.com, ESPN TV, ESPN Radio, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider (including Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus), ESPN Fantasy, ESPN Boston, ESPN Chicago, ESPN Dallas, ESPN New York and ESPN Stats & Information.

Berry had 45 tackles on rushes in between the tackles, second-most in the league among safeties. Thirty-nine of them were solo, tied for most in the league among safeties.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

32

7.45

Sean Lee | Team Twitter: @dallascowboys
Dallas Cowboys | LB | Age: 27 | NFL experience: 4th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: LB4; overall 6

When Lee was on the field last season, the Cowboys' defense allowed a 69.4 QBR on passes between the painted numbers. When Lee was off the field, The Cowboys allowed an 89.5 QBR to that location.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

33

7.40

Troy Polamalu | @tpolamalu
Pittsburgh Steelers | S | Age: 32 | NFL experience: 11th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: DB27; overall 93

Polamalu has 18 interceptions on passes of less than 20 yards downfield in the last five seasons, third-most in the NFL.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

34

7.37

Joe Haden | @joehaden23
Cleveland Browns | CB | Age: 24 | NFL experience: 4th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; CLE D18

Since being drafted by the Browns in 2010, Haden has broken up 39 passes, more than any other player in the league.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

35

7.35

LaMarr Woodley | @LaMarrWoodley
Pittsburgh Steelers | LB | Age: 28 | NFL experience: 7th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; PIT D8

Over the last four seasons, 24.5 of Woodley's 36.5 sacks have come on plays with six or more pass-blockers. Only DeMarcus Ware has more sacks against six or more pass-blockers over that span.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

36

7.34

Brian Orakpo | @rak98
Washington Redskins | LB | Age: 27 | NFL experience: 5th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: LB65; overall 146

From 2009 to 2011, Orakpo disrupted 25.5 drop-backs (sacks + interceptions + passes defended + batted balls) as an outside linebacker, fifth-most in the league.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

Orakpo, who missed 14 games because of injury, should be better considered in #NFLRank.
-- Football OutsidersInsider

37

7.32

Jerod Mayo | Team Twitter: @Patriots
New England Patriots | LB | Age: 27 | NFL experience: 6th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: LB 11; overall 13

Since the start of 2008, Mayo has 323 tackles on rushes in between the tackles, second only to London Fletcher (356).
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

38

7.31

Mario Williams | @bbwolf94
Buffalo Bills | DE | Age: 28 | NFL experience: 8th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: DL5; overall 22

Since the start of 2007, Williams has 59 sacks, fifth-most in the league. Last season, the Bills averaged a sack every 15.8 drop-backs with Williams on the field and a sack every 21.8 drop-backs with him off the field.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

39

7.27*

Brandon Flowers | @BFlowers24
Kansas City Chiefs | CB | Age: 27 | NFL experience: 6th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR, KC D24

Since the start of 2008, Flowers has broken up 12 passes thrown less than 15 yards downfield and outside the painted numbers, tied for second-most among defensive backs during that span.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

40

7.27*

Chris Long | @JOEL9ONE
St. Louis Rams | DE | Age: 28 | NFL experience: 6th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: DL14, overall 48

Long had an NFC-high 7.5 sacks when offenses employed six or more pass-blockers. Three of those sacks came when the Rams sent a standard pass rush, tied for second most in the NFC.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)