More than half the teams in the NFL run some form of a 3-4 defense heading into the 2013 season. With the explosion of the 3-4, fans, coaches and scouts are becoming more familiar with the difference between a 3-4 defensive end and a 4-3 defensive end.
During last year's NFL 1,000 series, all defensive ends were combined in a ranking that we later found to be confusing to fans. Why scout, grade and rank Cameron Wake using the same criteria as Justin Smith when they are asked to do two very different things on each play?
That led to a revised look at defensive ends—and outside linebackers—in the 2013 NFL 1,000 rankings. The 35 players you’ll see next are all 3-4 defensive ends, or at least they played the majority of their snaps there during the 2012 season.
As always, we looked for a minimum of 200 snaps from each player when evaluating their ability to rush the quarterback and stop the run. And in cases where two players' total scores matched, we broke the tie based on which player we'd rather have on our team right now.