May 11, 2023
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. Yesterday we started with the offense. Today we'll look at the defense.
Sweat's numbers have improved every year he has been in the NFL:
|Josh Sweat||Tackles||Sacks||QB hits|
He edges out the Commanders' Montez Sweat for first-team honors, as well as Chase Young, whose career has been stalled by injuries. The Giants have a couple of talented young edge rushers in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, but they're not there yet. The Cowboys' Demarcus Lawrence is a PFF fave, but he has had Derek Barnett-like sack production the last four seasons.
If you include the playoffs, Reddick was the best defensive player in the NFL last season.
I probably would have still had Lawrence and Allen as my first-teamers even if Javon Hargrave hadn't left for San Francisco. With Hargrave gone, choosing these two beasts was that much easier.
I struggled a little trying to choose between the Eagles' Fletcher Cox and the Giants' Leonard Williams for second-team honors (at the bottom of the article), but ultimately Williams only had 2.5 sacks while playing next to a guy in Lawrence who commands a ton of extra attention.
I could have just as easily included Parsons among the edge rushers, but since the NFC East's linebackers aren't exactly awesome, let's put him here. Obviously, he is an elite, versatile player.
Again, I struggled with who to place on the second team. T.J. Edwards might have made the first team here if he hadn't departed for Chicago. The Giants signed Bobby Okereke to a four-year deal worth $40 million this offseason, which as probably an overpay, but he's still a decent enough starting linebacker. Thereafter, it was tough. I gave the nod to Commanders 2021 first-round pick Jamin Davis, who improved substantially in 2022 after a bad rookie season and could be in for a quality Year 3.
In our offensive edition, we did not include DeVonta Smith among the first-team wide receivers. There were four who were worthy of a spot, but someone had to be left out. That was DeVonta. There's a similar situation here with Bradberry, Diggs, Slay, and Stephon Gilmore, who the Cowboys traded for this offseason. Gilmore has been playing in relative anonymity the last two seasons on a couple of bad teams (Panthers in 2021, Colts in 2022), but he is still a top-level NFL cornerback at the age of 32 (he'll be 33 in September).
There are no star safeties in the NFC East, but Wilson and Curl are a pair of underrated, good players.
Edge defenders: Montez Sweat, Commanders, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Giants
Interior defensive line: DaRon Payne, Commanders, Fletcher Cox, Eagles
Linebacker: Bobby Okereke, Giants, Jamin Davis, Commanders
Cornerback: Stephon Gilmore, Cowboys, Adoree Jackson, Giants, Avonte Maddox, Eagles
Safety: Jayron Kearse Cowboys, Xavier McKinney, Giants
We'll give two points for first-team nods, one point for second-team. Good? Good. I mean, who cares?
Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | @thePhillyVoice
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports
Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader