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Where Does Trent Cole Rank?

It seems like Trent Cole can never get the respect he deserves. Even though Cole has twice made the Pro Bowl, he continues to be overlooked when talk turns to the best defensive ends in the football.

Case in point, Peter Schraeger of is unveiling his list of the 100 best players in the NFL entering the 2010 season. So far, he's unveiled numbers 21-100 on that list, and it includes four Eagles: cornerback Asante Samuel (50th), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (53rd), left tackle Jason Peters (65th), and Cole, who comes in all the way down at number 95. That's right, 95th.

As a point of context, the next defensive end to appear on the list is Justin Tuck of the New York Giants, who comes in at 44th, only 51 spots ahead of Cole. Mario Williams of the Houston Texans and Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears then came in at 26 and 23, respectively. And Jared Allen and Dwight Freeney are likely to appear in the top 20 when it's revealed.

So is that a fair ranking? Well, no, to put it bluntly. We'll start with pass-rushing ability. Of Cole, Peppers, Allen, Freeney, Williams and Tuck, only Allen has more sacks over the past four years (52 to Cole's 42). If you take only the last three years into account, Allen still comes out on top and Williams edges Cole out by a single sack, 35 to 34.

How about tackles for loss? Again, Allen is the only one who's topped Cole in that category both over the past three and four years.

Durability? Cole and Williams are the only two of the six to have played every game over the last four years.

Finally, there's obviously more to a 4-3 defensive end than sacking the quarterback, you have to play the run as well. That's a tougher skill to gauge with stats, but the folks over at who chart every play in the league over the course of the season judged Cole to be the very best 4-3 defensive end against the run last season.

So perhaps it's clear that Cole should be rated higher than the 95th best player in the league, but just how high should he be ranked. Obviously any such ranking is bound to be quite flawed, but a post by Football Outsider's Bill Barnwell about the players with the highest trade value in the league is probably much closer to the truth.

Who's The Best DE?
Rank in () Trent Cole Julius Peppers Jaren Allen Dwight Freeney Mario Williams Justin Tuck
Avg. Sacks Last 4 Yrs 10.5 (2) 10.13 (3) 13 (1) 8.25 (5) 9.88 (4) 7 (6)
Avg. Sacks Last 3 Yrs 11.33 (3) 9.17 (6) 14.83 (1) 11 (4) 11.67 (2) 9.33 (5)
Avg. TFL Last 4 Yrs 15.25 (2) 12 (4) 18.25 (1) 8.25 (6) 13 (3) 11.5 (5)
Avg. TFL Last 3 Yrs 16.33 (2) 10 (5) 19.33 (1) 9.67 (6) 15 (4) 15.33 (3)
GP last

         4 Years</td>
         <td>64 (t1)</td>
         <td align="center">62 (t3)</td>
         <td align="center">62 (t3)</td>
         <td align="center">54 (t5)</td>
         <td align="center">64 (t1)</td>
         <td align="center">54 (t5)</td>

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:39 p.m., June 23

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