AFC North Top 25: 14th-ranked player

The AFC North blog is continuing its series on the top 25 players in the division with No. 14:


Bengals defensive end

DunlapDunlapWhy Dunlap is ranked 14th: While this could be viewed as too high for Dunlap, you get the feeling that he is headed for a Pro Bowl season in 2012. He wants to be an every-down lineman and replace Frostee Rucker, who signed with the Cleveland Browns in free agency. Dunlap can become a dominant edge rusher if he stays healthy. A hamstring injury limited him to 40 percent of the defensive snaps last season.

Still, Dunlap proved to be one of the best pass-rushing defensive ends in the AFC North. While he only had 4.5 sacks, he recorded 13 quarterback hits and 20 quarterback pressures to finish as a top-five defensive end in the Pro Football Focus ratings. His performance in 2012 should be even better because he's only scratching the surface of his potential. It's easy to forget that he's only 23 and has yet to reach his ceiling.