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July 06, 2017

Preseason All-NFC East team: Defense edition

Eagles NFL

Last week, we rolled out our "NFC East Dumpster Fire" series. This week, we'll take a somewhat more positive look around at the NFC East, as we'll name our "Preseason All-NFC East Team."

Yesterday, we started with the offense. Today, we cover defense and special teams.

Defensive end: Brandon Graham, Eagles, Olivier Vernon, Giants

Graham and Vernon have been in the NFL for a combined 12 years, and have one season of 10 or more sacks between them. Graham and Vernon are both very good players, but the NFC East does not presently have a dominant edge rusher, like they did in the days of Demarcus Ware, Lawrence Taylor, and Reggie White. 

Ryan Kerrigan should get strong consideration here, but we'll squeeze him in with the linebackers, although obviously, that's not really the right fit in this mock 4-3 defense.

Defensive tackle: Fletcher Cox, Eagles, Damon Harrison, Giants

Cox is paid like an elite player, but he merely played like a great one last season. Still he is very clearly the best interior defensive lineman in the division. Meanwhile, the Giants went from the 24th ranked rush D in the NFL in 2015 to third a season ago, and that was due in large part to the free agency signing of Harrison.

Linebacker: Sean Lee, Cowboys, Jordan Hicks, Eagles, Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins

Lee is made of papier-mâché and dandelions, but he stayed healthy in 2015, racking up 145 tackles.

Jordan Hicks has been a play-making machine early in his career. In just 24 career games (21 starts), Hicks has 135 tackles, 2 sacks, 7 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 4 fumble recoveries, and 14 pass breakups. As we reported earlier this week, Hicks injured his hand while on vacation in Greece, but that is not believed to be serious.

As noted above, we'll shoehorn edge rusher Kerrigan in with the linebackers, as he is far more worthy of recognition than anyone else the NFC East has to offer at linebacker.

Cornerback: Janoris Jenkins, Giants, Josh Norman, Redskins

Like Damon Harrison above, Jenkins was an great free agent signing for the Giants last offseason, and Giants fans love to retweet the following to rub it in my face:

Meanwhile, Norman is overpaid, but still obviously a very good corner in a division that lacks them. I will note that I was tempted to leave Norman off in favor of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Safety: Landon Collins, Giants, Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles

In 2016, Collins had 125 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 INT, and 13 pass breakups. Stud.

As for Jenkins, there isn't anything he can't do from his safety spot. He can play centerfield in single-high looks, he can be a physical tackler in the box, he can cover slot receivers man-to-man, and he makes big plays, although he will leave a few on the field as well.

Kicker/Punter/LS: Dan Bailey, Cowboys, Donnie Jones, Eagles, Jon Dorenbos, Eagles

Bailey is second all-time in field goal accuracy, Jones is the understood league MVP every season but they just just give it to someone else to keep it interesting, and Dorenbos is a magician.


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