Top 10 in 2014: The best defensive ends in the NFL today

Credit: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

Typically speaking, sports fans tend to worry about two things – the past and the future. They’ll debate who was the greatest player of all-time, while also spending hours discussing whether or not a rookie is going to be develop into an All-Pro.

Both are fun exercises, things that keep fans engaged and the beer flowing at the local tavern. But they miss out on what is most important – the present.

Forget about yesterday. Never mind tomorrow. Let’s talk about today.

Who are the best players in the NFL right now? Who can help a team win the Super Bowl this season? Who is writing a legacy with each passing week?

Those are the questions the editors at cover32 seek to answer in this series, “Top 10 in 2014.” In the coming weeks, every position – as well as head coach, general manager and other off-field areas – will be graded, evaluated and ranked.

The series continues with a position that is the most important on the defensive side of the football – defensive end. Quarterbacks are the key to a team’s success, so offensive tackles get big money to protect them from great pass rushers. It’s the only way to slow down a vaunted offense; pressuring the QB is the key to defense in today’s NFL. That’s why defensive ends are so valuable.

Let the debate begin!


10. Justin Tuck

The Raiders believe Tuck has plenty left in the tank

After a couple of so-so seasons, Tuck found his groove again in 2013, mostly because he was able to stay healthy and on the field. As a result, he recorded 11 sacks, the fourth time in his career that he’s hit double digits. That was enough to convince the Raiders to invest $11 million in the 31-year-old defensive end, a move designed to bolster their pass rush as they look for ways to compete in a division dominated by Peyton Manning.

9. Jared Allen

Allen is still a sack machine

During his illustrious 10-year career, Allen has chalked up a staggering 128.5 sacks; that’s an average of nearly 13 per season. And despite just turning 31, he shows no signs of slowing down. The past two seasons, he’s recorded 12 and 11.5 sacks, monster numbers by most standards. But because Allen had 22 in 2011, they almost seemed disappointing. That’s ridiculous. Allen is still among the best in the game; he’ll thrive in Chicago.


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  • Me

    I know lists like this are difficult, and honestly it is hard to compare 3-4 ends and 4-3 ends the same. But this list has its inconsistencies. Quinn had a breakout year last year, while Ware had a down year. So is this looking over a guy’s career or just last season?
    Watt has been a stud since day 1. No reason he shouldn’t be at the top of this list.

    • quinn

      This list is analyzing the top 10 from last season, not cumulative over the course of a career.

      The reason Watt isn’t at the top of this list is simple…Robert Quinn

    • Gustav Flores

      Big Moe Wilkerson NY Jets is a top 5 probably top 3 why would you leave him out of the list. Loser!!!!!

  • big G

    How is Mo Wilkerson not on this list?

  • oc

    I’ll repeat how is Mo Wilkerson not on this list?

  • Will Monahan

    Mo Wilkerson totally deserves to be on this list, but this writer doesn’t know how to correctly measure the value of a defensive end. He pretty much just put the defensive ends with the most sacks up top. You have to look at quarterback pressures, and different stats.

  • Zachary Manfrey

    this list is a bunch of B.S.