On Sunday evening, NFL Network unveiled the players from 80 to 71 on the Top 100 Players of 2011. The first Eagle to make the list fell in that range at number 73, “The Hunter” Trent Cole. Just to give a bit of an idea of where Cole fell on the list, he was sandwiched by two Cowboys. Jay Ratliff at number 74 and Tony Romo at number 72.
If you are unfamiliar with the list, it is created by voting of current NFL players. The players that make this list must have credibility amongst their peers. So far, the list has had five defensive ends, three of which were behind Cole. The three ends ranked behind him were Jared Allen at number 80, former Eagle Jason Babin at number 85, and Shaun Phillips at number 97. Mario Williams came in ahead of him at number 71, although being much less productive than Cole. There are thirteen total defensive ends on the list. Other names you can expect to see are John Abraham of the Falcons, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora of the Giants, and Dwight Freeney of the Colts, to name a few. Now, let’s take a look at what got Trent Cole onto this list.
Trent Cole was introduced to the list by Andy Reid who stressed his undeniable attributes that all Eagles fans love about Cole, his relentless pressure and high motor. When the Eagles drafted Cole in the 5th round of the 2005 draft, they knew they were getting a bargain. Andy Reid brought Trent Cole in before the draft and when he came in, Trent explained to the coaches how he had 32 different moves to get past a lineman and get to the ball carrier. He’s displayed numerous amounts of those moves in his 6 seasons with the Eagles tallying up 57 sacks. With 57 sacks, Cole is already third in Eagles history on the all-time sacks list behind Reggie White (124) and Clyde Simmons (76.5). The quarterback sacked most by Cole is Eli Manning of NFC East rival New York Giants, having been sacked seven times by “The Hunter”.
With all this production, shouldn’t Cole be ranked a bit higher? Trent Cole, year after year, goes under-rated and unnoticed by fans and media. Trent Cole should be a household name and should consistently be in the same lists as Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers as the top defensive ends in this league. Since 2006 Cole has 52 sacks which is third most in the league behind only one other 4-3 defensive end, Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings. Cole is also much more well rounded than these names that appear around, or ahead of him, on the list.
“Against the run and the pass, he can play both equally well” says Reid, who has played Cole in pass coverage multiple times in his career. With new defensive line coach Jim Washburn at the helm, Cole will play a more aggressive role at defensive end, given more freedom to rush the passer. Expect this season to be Cole’s most productive in the sack column, even after having two seasons with 12.5 sacks. Washburn has turned players like Kyle Vanden Bosch and Jevon Kearse into some of the best pass rushers in the league.
“He only gets better with age and experience” said Andy Reid. If this is the case, going into his 7th season, Cole will only improve. The Eagles have Cole under contract through the 2013 season so we have much more to see from this two-time Pro Bowler.
Keep watching the Top 100 Players of 2011 on NFL Network Sunday nights at 8 o’clock to see what other Eagles appear on the list. DeSean Jackson, Asante Samuel, and Michael Vick are three players known to be on the list. Other players who could make a case to be on the list are Quintin Mikell, LeSean McCoy, and the list’s most popular position, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
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