NFC East: Top 5 Defensive Stars

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The NFC East has become an offense-first division in recent seasons, but its teams still have a proud defensive tradition and feature some of the finest defensive playmakers in the game.

Here are the top five defensive stars causing havoc in the NFC East:

5. London Fletcher, ILB, Washington Redskins

Ageless wonder London Fletcher continues to defy father time, to consistently deliver elite production from his inside linebacker position.

A stout force in the middle, Fletcher is an expert at reading the game and his intelligence and instincts compensate for his diminishing speed. The 37-year-old led the NFL in tackles in 2011 and is the cornerstone of the Washington Redskins' 3-4 scheme.

4. Trent Cole, DE, Philadelphia Eagles

Criminally underrated defensive end Trent Cole is a dominant force for the Philadelphia Eagles. He has thrived in line coach Jim Washburn's wide-9 alignments.

Cole has the power to set a hard edge against the run and the takeoff speed to get past any offensive tackle on the pass-rush. Jason Bain posted bigger numbers last season, but Cole remains the player on the Eagles front offenses must gameplan to stop.

3. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants

From a scheme perspective, versatile end/tackle Justin Tuck might have beat Jason Pierre-Paul to this spot. However, the young New York Giants star simply has that wow factor that few other players possess.

Pierre-Paul is rapidly redefining expectations for the defensive end position, thanks to athleticism men of his size aren't supposed to possess. Pierre-Paul is listed at 278 pounds, but carries it on a frame that looks more like 230 and plays at the speed of a 215-pounder.

His fluid range of movement and phenomenal first-step quickness dominated the league for Big Blue in 2011. His 16.5 sacks were impressive, but so were his 86 tackles, proving the 23-year-old is a complete lineman.

2. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Philadelphia Eagles

Despite the criticism, the Philadelphia Eagles defense is better than many think and one of the main reasons is the play of shutdown cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

A true master of the lost art of press coverage, Asomugha is a dream come true for a defensive coordinator who wants to rely on man coverage concepts.

Having Asomugha maul receivers at the line and flawlessly track their movements downfield, gives the Eagles' rampaging front more time to get to the quarterback.

1. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

Just how do the Dallas Cowboys manage to consistently underachieve with a player like DeMarcus Ware on defense? The mystery continues and so does Ware's outstanding production.

The finest pass-rusher of his generation added 19.5 more sacks to his impressive career total and enters this season just half a sack short of the century mark.

Expect Ware to reach triple digits for career QB takedowns, not long after the season has started. No other pass-rusher in the NFL can match Ware's length, fluidity and speed off the edge.