Trent Cole is rated as the top 4-3 defensive end in the NFL by highly regarded website Pro Football Focus when it graded plays from the last 3 years.
The site terms Cole as "criminally underrated." Cole tends to agree that he is underrated, given his reaction to being selected as low as he was in the NFL Network Top 100 players of 2010.
Writes the site: In the last three years, Cole has finished fifth (2008), third (2009) and first (2010) in our overall 4-3 DE rankings, so maybe the Eagles defensive end has a point when he talks about how criminally underrated he is. He gets credit for his pass rushing, but, interestingly, he may be stronger in run defense – where he has finished with our highest grade in each of the past two years. That’s certainly not a slight to his pass rushing ability in that time, where only three defenders have accumulated more total quarterback disruptions. Grade: +113.4
The site reviewed every play and assigned a grade in an effort to reward the complete player and added weighting so it is not just about sacks. The coverage grade is worth three quarters that of the pass rushing, run defense and penalties grades.
Cole is third in the NFL and second among 4-3 ends with 52.0 sacks since 2006. He led the Eagles with 10 sacks last season, although he continues to be dogged by the assertion that he wears down later in the season.