NFL's best at sacking QB's

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila overrated among top defensive ends in league

Last season, Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila ranked third in the NFL with 13.5 sacks. On the surface you would say "KGB" had a great season, but those who watch the Packers closely know KGB's sacks came in bunches.

He wasn't consistent enough week in and week out, which to be considered a top defensive end/pass rusher in the game you need to be. KGB is a threat every play, but he wasn't making enough plays to become the factor the defense needed him to be.

In fact, if you ranked the top 10 defensive ends/pass rushers in the game, KGB likely doesn't make the list. Yes, he can make plays, but his lack of run support and his "hot and cold" play don't make a top player, even his contract says otherwise.

With that in mind, here's a list of the top 10 defensive ends/pass rushers in the NFL. What seems obvious is there's not a Reggie White or Bruce Smith playing today — a defensive end who does everything great. Most are great pass rushers, but not so great as run stuffers.

Keep in mind on this rating system that sacks are not everything.

1. Patrick Kerney, Falcons: Pluses — Plays the pass (13 sacks in 2004) and the run (66 tackles) well; has advantage playing on aritificial turf. Minuses — Not the biggest end in the world.

2. Dwight Freeney, Colts: Pluses — Is quick, and on the RCA Dome's artificial turn with noise he's tough to defend; led NFL with 16 sacks in 2004. Minuses —Had just 34 tackles last season, making some wonder if he's an every-down player.

3. Julius Peppers, Panthers: Pluses — Great athlete, who like Kerney plays the pass (11 sacks) and the run (64 tackles). Minuses — Still raw as a player, making him not complete — yet.

4. Betrand Berry, Cardinals: Pluses — Gets to the QB a lot (14.5 sacks in 2004); Minuses — His 49 tackles in 2004 were good, but could be better.

5. Jason Taylor, Dolphins: Pluses — Fast around the corner, making him a threat on every snap to snap the QB in half. Minuses — Lack of size makes him vulnerable to the run.

6. Charles Grant, Saints: Pluses — Complete player (78 tackles led all defensive ends last season) who doesn't make his name just on sacks. Minuses — Not a great pass rusher, so sometimes he's not a difference-maker.

7. Terrell Suggs, Ravens: Pluses — Great athlete; competes hard every play; Minuses —One dimensional player, who isn't as adept at playing the run.

8. Darren Howard, Saints: Pluses — Solid pass rusher who always seems to register at least 10 sacks. Minuses — Not great everywhere, so he doesn't dominate much.

9. Shaun Ellis, Jets: Pluses — Good player, who is better as a pass rusher than run supporter. Minuses — Like most at his position, not staunch against the run.

10. Kevin Williams, Vikings: Pluses — Good player, who goes unnoticed on a team not known for defense. Minuses — Not the quickest cat, which isn't a good playing on the artificial surface the Vikings play on.

OVERRATED
Simeon Rice, Bucs:
He had 12 sacks last season, but just 40 tackles. He's a part-time player, who never has been a good run stopper. His stock has been inflated playing with an above average Bucs defense.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Packers: The Packers would be better off if they could play Gbaja-Biamila part-time, because he wears down playing 60 snaps a game. Still, he's needed, since nobody else on the team is a solid pass rusher.

UNDERRATED
Steve Foley, Chargers:
Had 10 sacks and 64 tackles last season. Any team would take that from a defensive end/pass rusher.

ON THE DECLINE
Willie McGinest, Patriots:
He's still solid (9.5 sacks in 2004), but he's not a difference maker anymore.

John Abraham, Jets: He still can make plays, but injuries have slowed him. Also, if he wasn't in New York, he wouldn't get as much coverage.


Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at dritchay@sbcglobal.net.


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