Tha Sports Junkies 101

TSJ101’s NFC East Preseason Defense First-Team Selections

Juston via Flickr


The NFC East may lack solid team defensive units but it does possess quality, high end players that can get the job done.

In the secondary, a pair of Redskins man the corner positions, while the Eagles make their presence felt at the safety spots.

The front seven is loaded with disruptive defensive lineman, and playmaker’s at linebacker.

Defensive End: Connor Barwin

The Eagles are switching back to the 4-3 defense, and Barwin is changing positions as a result. One of the more underrated pass rushers in the game, Connor Barwin logged seven sacks last year, as an outside linebacker. With more opportunities to rush the passer, Barwin should produce double digit sacks this season. He’ll flourish under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s “wide-9” scheme.

Defensive Tackle: Fletcher Cox

Arguably the Eagles MVP in 2015, Cox led the Eagles with 9.5 sacks as a 3-4 defensive end. He added 71 tackles as well. His 54 quarterback hits, ranked second among de’s behind Micheal Bennett. The 12th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, has blossomed into a 2x second team All-Pro selection. He signed a massive six-year $103 million dollar deal, with $63 million guaranteed in June.

Defensive Tackle: Chris Baker

Baker had a breakout season in 2015, with 53 tackles and six sacks. He played 58 percent of defensive snaps last season, which led the Skins’ d-line. Entering the final year of his contract, expect to see a motivated Chris Baker for the “Burgundy and Gold” this season

Defensive End: Jason Pierre-Paul

Jason Pierre-Paul appeared in only eight games last season because of his infamous fireworks incident. As a result, his play suffered tremendously. He only mustered one sack all season. With the additions of Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison, “JPP” should expect to see a lot of favorable matchups this season. There’s no reason to think that Jason Pierre-Paul, wont return to his dominant ways.

Outside Linebacker: Sean Lee

The Dallas Cowboys need Sean Lee to produce in the worst way, while the defense deals with several suspensions this season. Lee has dealt with multiple injuries in his career, as he’s missed nearly 40 percent of all possible games since the Cowboys drafted him. When healthy, he’s a game changer for the Cowboys defense. Last season, Lee registered 128 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a interception

Outside Linebacker: Ryan Kerrigan

Kerrigan has been the most consistent player on the Redskins roster since his arrival in 2011. He’s started all 16 games in his career over the past five seasons. Ryan Kerrigan is the only player in the NFL, with at least 7.5 sacks in each of the past five seasons, according to Pro Football Reference.

Inside Linebacker: Jordan Hicks

Hicks played exceptionally well as a rookie. In eight games, he had 50 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and touchdown. He was responsible for breaking Tony Romo’s collarbone in week two. A week later, Hicks had a breakout performance against the Jets. In his first start, he had 14 tackles, an interception, and fumble recovery. A torn pectoral muscle cut his season short. Hicks’ health is vital to Philadelphia, as the Eagles lack depth at the linebacker position.

Free Safety: Malcom Jenkins

The Eagles secondary is far from great, but Jenkins provides the team with a high level of play from the free safety position. Since he signed with the franchise in 2014, Jenkins has started 32 consecutive games. Last year, he posted a career high 109 tackles. He also added three forced fumbles, two interceptions, and a touchdown.

Strong Safety: Rodney McLeod

Signed as a free agent from the Rams in 2015, Rodney McLeod had a solid season, last year. Pro Football Focus, had him rated as the fourth best tackling safety, and ninth best in coverage. McLeod recorded 82 tackles, an interception, fumble recovery for a touchdown, and three forced fumbles. He was a starter for three seasons in St.Louis, in addition to being a captain for two of those. He may not be a household name, but he’s a young player entering the prime of his career.

Cornerback: Josh Norman

Josh Norman, took his talents to the nation’s capitol after the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag in April. In 2015, Norman allowed only 50 receiving yards in a game once, according to Pro Football Focus. He excels in zone coverage, and the Redskins defensive scheme, implements a ton of zone coverage. His 56 tackles, three forced fumbles, four interceptions, and two touchdowns earned him first team All-Pro honors in 2015.

Cornerback: Bashaud Breeland

Entering his third season, Bashaud Breeland is evolving into an exceptional defensive back. As a rookie in 2014, he started 15 games, gaining valuable experience. Last year, he was the best player on the Redskins’ defense. After week eight, Breeland only allowed only 50 or more yards receiving, three times. Breeland tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also added 81 tackles, and three forced fumbles.