Top Preseason Grades: 4-3 Defensive Ends

Strong against the run, the pass, or both, the Top 5 4-3 defensive ends so far this preseason shown here by Nathan Jahnke.

| 3 years ago

Top Preseason Grades: 4-3 Defensive Ends

top-pre-grades-43-DEWe don’t know about you, but we’ve had some with preseason. It’s not the best way of seeing who will succeed when win-loss records start to matter, but it has given us a first look at some players and really gives second- and third-stringers a chance to prove their worth.

So with three weeks of action in the bag we’re going to be looking across all the positions to let you know who have earned the grades in the Top 5 at each position.

Now of course there’s a lot more than five players at each position we’ve graded. We’ve run every player to play a single snap on offense or defense through the grading process so if you want to see how they’ve fared this preseason, and get access to seven seasons worth of historical grades and access for 365 days which will include the entire 2014 season (and postseason) then you’ll need a PFF Premium Package. At only $26.99 you won’t get better value.

4-3 Defensive Ends

1. Ethan Westbrooks, SL: +11.8

Breakdown: The undrafted rookie has been beating up on backup linemen, but has done so in all three games for grades of +3.7, +4.1 and +4.0. Currently he is pulling off the rare accomplishment of leading his position in both run defense grade and pass rush grade. He has one sack, three hits and five hurries.

Signature Stat: He has more run stops than any other 4-3 defensive end (six), and his Run Stop Percentage of 16.2 is the best for those with 30 run snaps.

2. Cameron Jordan, NO: +6.5

Breakdown: In 2012 Jordan was great against the run and in 2013 Jordan was great against the pass. So far in the 2014 preseason he has been great at both. Disruptive and making the life of his teammates easier.

Signature Stat: He has a Pass Rushing Productivity of 20.8 when rushing from the left thanks to two sacks, a hit and three hurries. The PRP mark is the best for those 4-3 defensive ends with 10 or more rushes from the left.

3. Everson Griffen, MIN: +5.7

Breakdown: After not seeing much playing time in his first game, he has made life very difficult for quarterbacks in the last two. He’s had one sack, three hits and four hurries while maintaining average play as a run defender. He looks primed for a breakout year as a starter.

Signature Play: ARZ @ MIN, Q2 12:52. A quick spin move got him inside the right tackle. The quarterback instantly responded by scrambling outside but Griffen was able to run him down. He finished the play by hitting the quarterback and forcing him to throw to a receiver’s feet.

4. Margus Hunt, CIN: +5.6

Breakdown: After barely playing as a rookie, Hunt has put himself in position for more playing time in his sophomore season. He has been most impressive as a pass rusher with seven pressures over 50 pass rushes, while also having three run stops on 24 run snaps.

Signature Play: NYJ @ CIN, Q3, 10:06. Hunt is able slip right inside the right tackle without problem giving him a straight path to the running back. He finished off the play resulting in a 4-yard loss for the offense.

5. Shelby Harris, OAK: +5.5

Breakdown: The seventh-round rookie has been making his mark and increasing his PFF grade each week. He has been most impressive in the run where his four run stops are tied for fourth-most at the position, but he’s also had two pressures in each of the three preseason games.

Signature Play: OAK @ MIN, Q1, 2:10. Harris runs past Matt Kalil and circle back around to strip sack the quarterback.


Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

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