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May 08, 2019

Preseason All-NFC East team: Defense edition

Eagles NFL
050819LaneJohnson Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

A group of very good NFC East pass rushers hanging out with a rare player who has shut them down.

At this point in the offseason, NFL rosters are pretty much set, at least in terms of players expected to make any kind of reasonable impact. And so, let's take a look at the NFC East, and determine who has the best players at each position. 

In case you missed the offense edition, it was dominated by Eagles players. Here we'll cover the defensive side of the ball. Oh, and since the two good teams in the division run 4-3 defenses, we'll (sort of) use that format.

Edge rushers: DeMarcus Lawrence, Cowboys; Ryan Kerrigan, Washington

DeMarcus Lawrence is a no-brainer, as he is the most talented defensive end in the division, while Kerrigan is the most consistently productive. Without looking, name as many players as you can who have at least 60 sacks over the last five seasons. OK, now go look.

Interior defensive line: Fletcher Cox, Eagles; Jonathan Allen, Washington

Fletcher Cox is by far and away the best interior defensive lineman in the division. At No. 2, I'd go with Jonathan Allen, who racked up 61 tackles (11 for loss), eight sacks, and 15 QB hits. He's primed to take off in his third season in the NFL.

"Off-ball" linebacker: Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys; Jaylon Smith, Cowboys; Zach Brown, Eagles

The Cowboys clearly have the two best off-ball linebackers in the division in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, who can both make plays from sideline to sideline, and are the strength of their defense. As for the third linebacker here, I think Zach Brown could be better than Nigel Bradham.

Cornerback: Byron Jones, Cowboys; Josh Norman, Washington

Yeah, I already know what you're going to say. Josh Norman is wildly overpaid and overrated. And yes, I agree. But, uh, who else really deserves to be here instead?

Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles; Landon Collins, Washington

Jenkins is just a great football player, as he can play safety, linebacker, slot corner, and outside corner. I considered Jabrill Peppers for the other spot, but two interceptions, no forced fumbles, and only eight pass breakups in two full seasons quickly ended that possibility.

Second team All-NFC East

Edge rushers: Brandon Graham, Eagles; Derek Barnett, Eagles

Interior defensive line: Malik Jackson, Eagles; DaRon Payne, Washington

"Off-ball" linebacker: Nigel Bradham, Eagles; Mason Foster, Washington; Sean Lee, Cowboys

Cornerback: Janoris Jenkins, Giants; Ronald Darby (¯\_(ツ)_/¯), Eagles

Safety: Jabrill Peppers, Giants; Rodney McLeod, Eagles

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