Pat Kirwan of NFL.com has been ranking the top players in the NFL in groups. He's not slapping a number on each player, rather he's grouping five players together that he believes are of similar playing ability. We looked at a few of his other groupings (QB and RB), and this time out we'll look at his break down of the best pass rushers in the game today.
His overall rankings surprised me a bit, but I like what he did. He had Julius Peppers in Group A, along with Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, James Harrison, and DeMarcus Ware. Kirwan seemed to give the veteran players more their due, and the younger players that haven't been as consistent or have done it for as long he had grouped lower.
Here's what he said about Peppers:
Julius Peppers, 4-3 DE, Bears (>): Leaving Carolina for Chicago reminds me of when Reggie White left Philadelphia for Green Bay. A premiere pass rusher like Peppers comes along once every five to 10 years. Peppers has 33 sacks and 13 forced fumbles in the last three years, but has played without the benefit of a solid rusher on the opposite side most of that time. In 2010, he led all defensive linemen with nine passes defended.
I think Peppers would benefit from a few less snaps in 2011 as well. We've talked about that 3rd DE stepping up to solidify the rotation, so Peppers and Israel Idonije can each get a break from time to time.