<
>

'13 Player Rankings, Defense: 80-71

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.

Fletcher has racked up 305 total tackles in the past two seasons, most of any player in the league. Only two players, Fletcher and Chad Greenway, have more than 285.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

72

6.65*

Dannell Ellerbe | @ellerbe59
Miami Dolphins | LB | Age: 27 | NFL experience: 5th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: LB19, overall 29

Ellerbe averaged a solo tackle every 8.9 snaps played, the sixth-highest rate in the league among players with at least 500 snaps played.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

Ellerbe turned one-half of a good season into a monster contract and a too-high #NFLRank.
-- Football OutsidersInsider

73

6.63

Ryan Kerrigan | @RyanKerrigan91
Washington Redskins | LB | Age: 25 | NFL experience: 3rd year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; WAS D23

Kerrigan has disrupted 21 drop-backs (sacks + interceptions + passes defended + batted balls) as an outside linebacker during the past two seasons, sixth most in the league.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

74

6.60*

Cliff Avril | @cliffavril
Seattle Seahawks | DE | Age: 27 | NFL experience: 6th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: DL31; overall 108

Of the players to play in less than 70 percent of their teams' snaps, Avril had the second-most sacks (9.5) in the NFL.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

75

6.60*

Aqib Talib | Team Twitter: @Patriots
New England Patriots | CB | Age: 27 | NFL experience: 6th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; NE D6

Through the first 10 games of the 2012 season, the Patriots had the most conservative defense in the league and allowed a 69.6 Total QBR (24th in NFL). From Weeks 11-17 (after acquiring Talib), the Patriots allowed a 43.2 Total QBR (11th) and had the ninth-most aggressive defense in the league.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

76

6.58*

Nick Fairley | @Nick_Fairley251
Detroit Lions | DT | Age: 25 | NFL experience: 3rd year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; DET D26

Since drafting Fairley in 2011, the Lions defense has allowed 3.6 yards per rush with Fairley on the field and 5.4 yards per rush with him off the field.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

77

6.58*

Robert Mathis | @RobertMathis98
Indianapolis Colts | LB | Age: 32 | NFL experience: 11th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; IND D29

During the past five seasons, the Colts defense has averaged a sack every 17.2 drop-backs with Mathis on the field and a sack every 21.6 drop-backs with him off the field. Mathis has 49.5 sacks during that time, sixth most in the league and most by a Colts player.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

78

6.58*

Trent Cole | @Pro_Hunt58
Philadelphia Eagles | DE | Age: 30 | NFL experience: 9th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; PHI 25D

From 2008 to 2011, Cole averaged a sack every 75.3 snaps played, the ninth-highest rate among players with at least 2,000 snaps played. Last season, Cole averaged a sack every 232 snaps played.
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

79

6.54*

Darnell Dockett | @ddockett
Arizona Cardinals | DT | Age: 32 | NFL experience: 10th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; ARI D16

The Cardinals have allowed 5.75 yards per play with Dockett off the field over the past five seasons, compared with 5.23 yards per play when he is on the field
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

80

6.54*

Asante Samuel | @pick_six22
Atlanta Falcons | CB| Age: 32 | NFL experience: 11th year
ESPN Fantasy rank: NR; ATL D17

Since the start of the 2006 season, Samuel has 44 interceptions, five more than the next-closest player (Ed Reed).
-- ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)

Samuel doesn't do a lot of things, but what he does, he does well.
-- Football OutsidersInsider