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May 28, 2016

Preseason All-NFC East team: Defense edition

Yesterday, we published our All-NFC East team on offense, which was, quite frankly, very unimpressive . Today we'll take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

Edge rusher: Ryan Kerrigan, RedskinsOlivier Vernon, Giants

Jason Pierre-Paul hasn't been a dominant force in years. Now he only has one hand. Ryan Kerrigan has quietly averaged just under 10 sacks and 3.4 forced fumbles per season over his five-year career. Olivier Vernon was a good pass rusher in Miami, but certainly not among the best in the game. Over his four-year career, Vernon has averaged just over seven sacks and one forced fumble per season. According to, he is now the highest paid 4-3 DE in the NFL, on a five-year deal worth $85 million. His cap numbers the next five years will be $13mm, $16mm, $17mm, $19.5mm, and $19.5mm. His signing by the Giants was a panic move, plain and simple. Still, in a division devoid of a legitimate stud edge rusher, Vernon gets the nod here.

Interior Defensive line: Fletcher Cox, EaglesDamon Harrison, Giants

Fletcher Cox is in a league of his own here. No other defensive lineman in the division is even close. As for the other interior defensive lineman, I guess I'll go with Damon Harrison, with no conviction whatsoever. Harrison is a good run stopper, but that's all he does.

Linebacker: Sean Lee, CowboysJordan Hicks, EaglesMychal Kendricks, Eagles

Sean Lee is a China doll, but when he can stay healthy he's awesome. Jordan Hicks was on his way toward being the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year before he tore a pectoral muscle, although he still has to prove he can have a strong follow-up to his impressive first season. Mychal Kendricks, meanwhile, is more talk than action but is unquestionably very gifted athletically. The NFC East's linebackers are not particularly strong.

Cornerbacks: Josh Norman, RedskinsDominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Giants

Josh Norman is clearly the best corner in the division, and DRC has become a playmaker on the Giants' defense.

Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, EaglesRodney McLeod, Eagles

Jim Schwartz thinks the Eagles may have one of the best safety tandems in the NFL. He's not wrong.

Final tally

Eagles 5, Giants 3, Redskins 2, Cowboys 1.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski