Trent Cole Is the Most Underrated Defensive End in the NFL

C KSenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2008

Do you know who Trent Cole is? Well, you probably do. (If you don't, shame shame, you need to watch some more football.)

But that's not the point of this article.

I know almost everybody knows who he is, but do people think of him as an elite defensive end? Not to my knowledge.

So my mission is to inform the readers of how good Trent Cole actually is.

Cole was drafted out of the University of Cincinnati in the fifth round of the 2005 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.

That season Cole recorded five sacks in his first four games. He ended up appearing in 11 more games and his total number of games played ended up at 15. He started seven of those games. But in those next 11 games, Cole didn't record a sack.

So after his stellar start, he didn't do a thing, sack-wise, for the rest of the year.

Then in 2006, the Eagles had signed left end Darren Howard, so Cole was not going to be able to play left end. But Jevon Kearse went down with a leg injury in Week Two, so Cole got his chance at right end.

He finished that year starting 14 games, appearing in all 16 games, while recording eight sacks and 62 total tackles and one interception that went for a touchdown, and the interception was against the Giants, which makes it so much more satisfying.

And then last season, Cole started all 16 games. He recorded 12.5 sacks (sixth in the league), 70 total tackles (fourth among all DEs), and four forced fumbles (seventh among all DEs, ninth overall). He also made his first Pro Bowl appearance.

No defensive end finished higher than Trent Cole in all three categories (sacks, tackles, and forced fumbles). So averaging the three categories together, Cole finished first last year ahead of every other defensive lineman in sacks, tackles, and forced fumbles all together.

(If you read this before, you might have seen me have DeMarcus Ware in here, but I took him out. Why? He's an outside linebacker...I noticed my mistake, went to and made sure. Took him out.)

Am I saying Trent Cole is the best defensive end in football? Not at all.

My point is just that Trent Cole is one of the best up-and-coming defensive ends in the league (behind Mister Mario Williams), and he could be a top five defensive end in a few years. He's only 25 and is only going to get better.

This season, I'm expecting big things for Trent Cole.

I'm expecting 13 sacks, 80 total tackles, and three forced fumbles.

And if he can do this he should gain another Pro Bowl appearance.

And then if he can maintain this for the next few years, he will be in the conversation for the five best defensive ends in the league.

I know you all likely know who Trent Cole is, but I just wanted to show you that he is a better defensive end than people give him credit for.

Go Trent Cole!