Julius Peppers has more than earned his place among the elite defensive ends of the past decade, but it’s his past performance more than his 2012 campaign that landed him on NFL Network’s latest Top 100 list, which is voted on by the players and often lags far behind on acknowledging when some of those great players had down years.
“One of my favorite players to watch on film is Julius Peppers,” Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen told NFL Network. “The way he can move and do the things he does over his span of the years is still impressive.”
This sentiment is certainly true and with 111.5 career sacks, Peppers has risen to 18th on the all-time sacks list and did well to boost that number with another 11.5 in 2012. However, the Chicago Bears end’s work against the run left much to be desired last season as Pro Football Focus graded him out at 40th among qualifying 4-3 defensive ends in that regard, sinking his overall 4-3 DE rank to No. 18 when factoring pass rush and other elements.
Meanwhile, someone like the Philadelphia Eagles‘ Brandon Graham ranked No. 2 among 4-3 DEs but probably won’t make the NFL Network Top 100 because he just broke out and didn’t get a Pro Bowl bid.
Peppers is the third member of last year’s Bears roster to make the NFL Top 100 for 2013 so far — cornerback Tim Jennings at No. 69 and linebacker Lance Briggs at No. 83 — as the list reached No. 50 this week. The PFF 101 has already been released with their reflection on the previous season, with a Chicago defensive players in cornerback Charles Tillman (No. 19) and defensive tackle Henry Melton (No. 84) making the list but no sign of Peppers.