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'14 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 Friday, Aug. 29.

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 @ESPNNFL and on Facebook.

How did we rank the players?

We polled 85 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.com, ESPN TV, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Insider (including Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus), ESPN fantasy, ESPN locals and ESPN Stats & Information.

The Patriots have allowed 3.7 yards per rush with Vince Wilfork on the field the past two seasons. With Wilfork off, the Patriots allowed 4.7 yards per rush.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

39

7.40

Sheldon Richardson | @Godforshort
New York Jets | DE | Age: 23 | NFL experience: 2nd year
2013 #NFLRank: NR
ESPN Fantasy rank: DL29, overall 89

Richardson had 77 tackles last season, the most by a rookie defensive lineman since 2001 (Shaun Rogers, 80). The Jets allowed an NFL-best 3.4 yards per rush and only 3.2 yards per rush when Richardson was on the field last season.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

38

7.41

Brian Orakpo | @rak98
Washington Redskins | LB | Age: 28 | NFL experience: 6th year
2013 #NFLRank: 36
ESPN Fantasy rank: LB53, overall 118

After bouncing back with 10 sacks last season following his torn pectoral in 2012, Orakpo became the first Redskins player in the last 20 years with four seasons of eight or more sacks.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

37

7.42*

Chris Long | @JOEL9ONE
St. Louis Rams | DE | Age: 29 | NFL experience: 7th year
2013 #NFLRank: 40
ESPN Fantasy rank: DL22, overall 67

Long has 33 sacks in the last three seasons, the eighth-most in the NFL, after he had only 17.5 sacks during his first three seasons. Long has never missed a game in his NFL career.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

36

7.42*

Jared Allen | @JaredAllen69
Chicago Bears | DE | Age: 32 | NFL experience: 11th year
2013 #NFLRank: 14
ESPN Fantasy rank: DL 14, overall 43

Over the last 10 years, Allen leads the NFL with 128.5 sacks and 17 fumbles recovered. Allen has recorded at least 10 sacks in seven straight seasons, the longest active streak in the league and tied for the longest since 2001 (DeMarcus Ware).
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

35

7.45

Dontari Poe | @PoeMans_dream
Kansas City Chiefs | DT | Age: 24 | NFL experience: 3rd year
2013 #NFLRank: NR
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR, KC D8

Poe led all nose tackles with 935 snaps played last season, 226 more than the next closest player. Poe also led all nose tackles with 4.5 sacks last season..
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

34

7.46

Michael Bennett | @mosesbread72
Seattle Seahawks | DE | Age: 28 | NFL experience: 6th year
2013 #NFLRank: NR
ESPN Fantasy rank: DL 24, overall 70

Bennett was one of two players in the postseason last year to record at least one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery (Aldon Smith). Bennett led the Seahawks with 8.5 sacks during the regular season.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

33

7.49

Eric Weddle | @weddlesbeard
San Diego Chargers | S | Age: 29 | NFL experience: 8th year
2013 #NFLRank: 24
ESPN Fantasy rank: DB2, overall 25

Over the last three seasons, Weddle is the only player in the NFL to record at least 250 tackles and 12 interceptions. During that span, Weddle ranks third among defensive backs in solo tackles.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

32

7.55*

Vontaze Burfict | @King55Tez
Cincinnati Bengals | LB | Age: 23 | NFL experience: 3rd year
2013 #NFLRank: NR
ESPN Fantasy rank: LB3, overall 6

Vontaze Burfict ranks third in the NFL with 298 tackles the past two seasons. He has 101 more tackles than the next highest Bengals defender in that time.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

31

7.55*

Muhammad Wilkerson | @mowilkerson
New York Jets | DE | Age: 24 | NFL experience: 4th year
2013 #NFLRank: 91
ESPN Fantasy rank: DL12, overall 33

Wilkerson tallied five sacks out of the Jets' base 3-4 defense last season. The only 3-4 defensive lineman with more was J.J. Watt (six).
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)