Defensive Player of The Year: The King has been dethroned

| December 10, 2010

Since we started doing these lists one name has been at the top of the pile. Trent Cole has looked cool and calm, and fended off all challengers.

Until now.

After a frankly shocking display off the short week by Cole against the Texans, he was in jeopardy of losing his top spot — and with a good performance, Bills DT Kyle Williams just did enough against Minnesota to overtake him. Look for more on Williams’ season from Sam Monson on Saturday.

But Kyle can’t rest easy at all, because Cole is bound to be looking for redemption, and a number of other challengers are making this contest extremely close as we head into the final few weeks of the season.

1. Kyle Williams, DT, Bills (+41.7)

This might seem like a weird choice. He plays on one of the league’s worst run defenses, but that hasn’t stopped Williams making play after play after play. Even in a hammering by the Vikings, he got pressure on the QB and made a couple of defensive stops. Last week: 2nd

2. Trent Cole, DE, Eagles (+45.8)

What happened Trent? Just the one quarterback pressure? Against Duane Brown? Didn’t see that coming. Last week: 1st

3. Terrell Suggs, DE, Ravens (+41.3)

As good a defensive end performance vs. Pittsburgh as you’ll see from Suggs, who is having a career year. Doesn’t make quite as many good plays as Cole, but then doesn’t miss as many tackles or give up as many penalties. Last week: 8th

4. Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers (+33.1)

What can’t Patrick Willis do? I’ll give you a minute to think about that before realizing the answer is “practically nothing.” One of a handful of players who is the standard bearer by a distance at his position. Last week: 4th

5. Julius Peppers, DE, Bears (+37.3)

So good he’s inspired me to do an article looking at the impact of the free agent signings of the past year. Continues to prove all his critics wrong. Last week: 2nd

6. Justin Smith, DE, 49ers (+32.8)

Somewhat surprisingly, he struggled a tad against Green Bay in the run game. We’ve become accustomed to seeing excellent play from him, so to see an average one is quite anticlimatic. Last week: 3rd

7. Cameron Wake, OLB, Dolphins (+35.2)

To be honest, it’s surprising Wake isn’t getting more press considering how good a season he’s having. A good run defender, he’s as consistent a pass rusher as there is right now. Last week: 9th

8. Brandon Flowers, CB, Chiefs (+17.1)

At the start of the year we thought he may be ready to have an island named after him, and while he’s not at that level, he’s still pretty special. Last week: 10th

9. James Harrison, OLB, Steelers (+34.5)

When Mike Tomlin says Harrison is having a Defensive Player of the Year type season, he’s not wrong. The only thing against him? Nine penalties. Can’t look past that, even if he may be the most complete defender in all of football. Last week: Not ranked

10. Tamba Hali, OLB, Chiefs (+36.8)

The problem with Hali is that he’s so one-dimensional that if he’s not bringing consistent pressure (and he’s only got more than two QB disruptions in a game once in the past four weeks) then you start to focus on the rest of his game. Last week: 6th

Dropped Out: Bart Scott (Jets)

In The Mix: Charles Johnson (Panthers), Kamerion Wimbley (Raiders), DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys), Clay Matthews (Packers), Haloti Ngata (Ravens), Lawrence Timmons (Steelers), Champ Bailey (Broncos) and Quintin Mikell (Eagles)

  • eagles1991

    How can you not mention Justin Tuck? He’s 2nd among all defensive linemen in total tackles and tied for 3rd in sacks. I thought his performance vs the Michael Vick was really impressive.

  • http://www.profootballfocus.com Jonathan Comey

    Tuck is a great finisher, but doesn’t get as much pressure as most of the top 4-3 DEs — he’s a bit off the lead pack, but has been one of the best DEs in the league over the past 3 years.

  • http://www.profootballfocus.com Khaled Elsayed

    Jonathan has it nailed. There are so many defensive ends playing well at the moment, that only the top three get a mentioned. It wouldn’t be all that hard to do a top 50 list of deserving candidates such is the level of some players.