Dec 22, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) celebrates with defensive end Chris Long (91) after getting his franchise leading eighteenth sack of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams defeated the Buccaneers 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Quinn Ranks Tops Among Edge Rushers Headed Into 2014

While Michael Sam might be the most talked about defensive end on the St. Louis Rams (or the NFL, for that matter), he is certainly not the only one getting droves of national media attention heading into the 2014 season. Robert Quinn, the reining Professional Football Writers of America’s Defensive Player of the Year, has also been catching a fair number of headlines after a “breakout” season last year. In fact, Chris Wesseling recently released his preseason list of “Best Edge Rushers” in the league, where Quinn makes an impressive showing.

For much of last year, Robert Quinn was slotting into Wesseling’s “second tier” in his ranking of all defensive ends in the NFL, coupled with players like Calais Campbell, Greg Hardy, and Rams’ teammate, Chris Long. At that time, there was very little negative to say about the would-be AP 1st-Team All-Pro defensive end,

“No defensive end has matched Quinn’s 17 hits on opposing quarterbacks this season. He and Long are the best players on a Rams defense that hasn’t gotten much help elsewhere.”

This time around, there is an exclusive ranking of edge rushers with some slightly modified tiers, ranging from All-Pros and Pro Bowlers down to “Potential vs. Production” and Grab bag.. After ranking outside the Top 5 last October among defensive ends, where would Robert Quinn fall on this list of top edge rushers? Well, the title of the article says it all: “Robert Quinn tops preseason list of best edge rushers.”

“Quinn’s speed ranks with the early-career versions of Jevon Kearse and Dwight Freeney as the best we’ve witnessed from a defensive end. He and Mathis are masters of the strip sack, combining”

Quinn sits atop a list of highly-prestigious names, at least in the football world, with only Cameron Wake, Aldon Smith, Robert Mathis, Demarcus Ware, and Clay Matthews sharing the top tier. To be fair, this list does only include 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers, as opposed to all defensive ends in the previously mentioned ranking. However, this “rise to the top” shows just how far the former North Carolina prospect has come since rotating reps with James Hall back in 2011.

Not to be forgotten, Chris Long also ranked high on this “top edge rushers” list, finishing Top 15 in the “Next Level” tier. However, despite the fact that Chris Long leads the NFL in pass disruptions over the past four seasons and has graded out as a Top 10 pass rushing 4-3 defensive end in each year since 2010, according to Pro Football Focus, he still cannot seem to catch a break in these highly-subjective rankings.

However, at the end of the day, it is hard to argue with having two players ranked in the Top 15, right?

 

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