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AFC East's best: No. 20 Randy Starks

By Tim Graham

StarksMugA countdown of my top 25 AFC East players continues, one weekday at a time ...

The choice

Starks has been one of the NFL's most underrated defensive players. He became a 2011 Pro Bowler as an alternate, but his name seldom comes to mind when talking about the top defensive linemen.

Starks is versatile and can play tackle and end with aplomb. Starks recorded 4.5 sacks last year, second-most of his career. The Dolphins' coaching staff film review credited him with 10 tackles for losses, tying him for second on the team behind Cameron Wake, and 10 quarterback hits. rated Starks the NFL's sixth-best 3-4 defensive end. He ranked ninth with 16 quarterback hurries. Starks tied for second in PFF's pass-coverage metric, and -- this isn't the most glowing stat for the Dolphins' 2011 defense -- his two interceptions tied him for second on the team. He was in the top 10 in PFF's pass-rush and run-stopping metrics.

Fast fact

Starks is entering his ninth season, easily making him the most experienced player on this list so far.

How acquired

Signed as a free agent from the Tennessee Titans in 2008. (Paul, a reader in Beijing, suggested I add this feature to each of the profiles because "a lot of us are focused in on how [a team] acquires such great players." Good idea.)

Hint about No. 19

He is coming off a lackluster season, but his overall defensive talent and body of work keep him in my top 20.

Picks to date

20. Randy Starks, Dolphins defensive lineman
21. Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots right tackle
22. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots tight end
23. Marcell Dareus, Bills defensive tackle
24. Antonio Cromartie, Jets cornerback
25. Eric Wood, Bills center

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |