10 NFL Defensive Ends Who Could Break Double-Digit Sacks in 2012

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IIJuly 3, 2012

10 NFL Defensive Ends Who Could Break Double-Digit Sacks in 2012

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    There is nothing better than stopping an offense dead in its tracks with a timely sack.

    At any point, a defensive end can break through the opposing quarterback's protection, fly in and throw the passer to the ground.

    It doesn't matter if an offense appears to be an unstoppable—a sack can happen on any given play. 

    With the NFL turning into such a pass-heavy league, sacks are becoming not only more valuable but also more common. 

    In that spirit, let's take a look at 10 NFL defensive ends that could break double-digit sacks in 2012. 

Quinton Coples

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    Quinton Coples might be playing in Rex Ryans' 3-4 defensive scheme as a defensive end, which might lead you to believe that he won't rack up too many sacks—but I beg to differ.

    After watching Coples perform at North Carolina, I am convinced that this guy is the real deal and should be a sack machine at the NFL level. 

    Let's just say he has a real nose for the ball and should be a first-year impact player for the New York Jets. 

Cliff Avril

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    Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril certainly gets better each and every season as he continues to improve his sack total from the year prior.

    In 2011, Avril accumulated 11 sacks for the Lions and was a complete monster for the team's defense.

    Because the Lions play in the pass-heavy NFC North with the likes of the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers and the Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler, I see Avril continuing to improve his sack total in 2012. 

Julius Peppers

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    Julius Peppers is quite arguably one of the most impressive pass-rushing defensive ends of this generation, as he enters 2012 with 100 career sacks.

    This past season for the Chicago Bears, Peppers racked up 11 sacks, improving on his mark of eight sacks from the year prior.

    I see Peppers improving that number in 2012, and he could possibly end up with 15-plus sacks in the very pass-heavy NFC North. 

Mario Williams

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    Mario Williams is really going to be a huge asset for the Buffalo Bills' defense in 2012, and he's going to prove why Buffalo handed him a six-year, $96 million contract.

    Williams has been a sack machine throughout his career, as he's accumulated 53.5 sacks thus far. 

    If he can stay healthy, which has been a struggle over the past few seasons, then he should be a nightmare for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC East. 

Jason Babin

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    Jason Babin couldn't have had a better first season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, as he finished with a whopping 18 sacks.

    I don't necessarily believe that Babin will repeat his stellar 2011 season, but I do believe that he will definitely surpass the double-digit sack mark in 2012. 

    Babin is just a natural-born pass-rusher, and he's arguably the Eagles' top defensive player. 

Jared Allen

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    Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen came just a half of a sack short of tying Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5 sacks in a season.

    Allen was arguably the only bright spot of Minnesota's very inconsistent defense in 2011. 

    There are some players that I have a hard time believing will be able to repeat their dominant performances from the year before, but I actually could see Allen chasing Strahan's record yet again in 2012.

    He's just that dominant. 

Trent Cole

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    Along with Jason Babin, Trent Cole creates huge problems for the NFC East's quarterbacks. Babin and Cole band together as one of the NFL's most lethal pass-rushing tandems.

    In 2011, Cole was able to record 11 sacks for the Eagles despite missing two games.

    If he can stay healthy for all of 2012, then there's no doubt in my mind that Cole won't only surpass the double-digit mark for sacks, but also come close to 15. 

Charles Johnson

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    Charles Johnson isn't quite as dominant as Julius Peppers was with the Carolina Panthers, but he's pretty darn close to it.

    Johnson continued his pass-rushing success with the Panthers in 2011, as he racked up nine sacks following a season in which he finished with 11.5.

    I not only see Johnson returning to his dominant form that he had in 2010, but I also see him surpassing the 11.5-sack mark and accumulating close to 15 sacks. 

Chris Long

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    The St. Louis Rams had an extremely disappointing season in 2011, but there was just one bright spot: Chris Long.

    The 27-year-old continues to improve as a pass-rusher at the NFL level, as he recorded a career-high 13.5 sacks.

    With Long entering his prime, I undoubtedly believe that he's going to continue his dominance and have yet another career year. He'll not only pass the double-digit mark, but he'll also surpass 13.5 sacks. 

Jason Pierre-Paul

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    Jason Pierre-Paul—my favorite defensive end in the NFL today. 

    It amazes me how this guy is only 23 years old, as he plays the game like a seasoned veteran. He is simply something special, and I couldn't tell you how much I really love him as a pass-rusher. 

    J.P.P. played an instrumental role in the New York Giants' Super Bowl run this past season, racking up 16.5 sacks for the team. 

    If you ask me, Pierre-Paul is not only New York's top defensive player, but he's also arguably one of the elite defensive players in the NFL today.

    There's no doubt in my mind that J.P.P. is going to come close to passing the 20-sack mark in 2012. 

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