After looking over the protectors of the QB, lets take a look at the guys trying to break those walls down. This division has fearsome defenders that have been wrecking havoc on opposing offenses. The amount of talent in each team’s defensive line is substantial which will make this one of the toughest groups to evaluate.
The scoring systems will be the same as the previous articles. Now let’s get started and check out how these teams stack up on the defensive lines.
Philadelphia Eagles – 10 points
This Eagles team could have the most resilient group of defenders in the league led by the mighty Fletcher Cox. Cox has been a great player since entering the league, but an even greater leader for the team. It also helps to have other veterans on the team like Chris Long, Brandon Graham, and newly acquired Michael Bennett. We also can’t forget about the younger players like 1st round pick, Derek Barnett, or Timmy Jernigan. All of these guys bring an intensity that puts fear on QBs. This defensive line gets a ton of credit for their recent victory in the super bowl, as they should. They were #1 in rush defense, #4 in total yards, and #4 in total points allowed in the league. Much of the reason for their success is due to the defensive line being able to attack in waves. We still haven’t mentioned the pickup of Haloti Ngata, or the rookie Josh Sweat that brings a motor that may rival anyone in the league. Eagles fans should be excited to see potentially a top 5 defensive line of all time.
Dallas Cowboys – 8 points
Much like the Eagles, the Cowboys also have multiple waves on their defensive line. We all witnessed an outstanding performance by Demarcus “Tank” Lawrence this past year. Tank once again finds himself in a contract year as he plays with the franchise tag. He’ll be looking to feed off that season to have another double digit sack year to receive a big pay day. Tank isn’t the only one set out to prove something; Taco Charlton is a former 1st round pick looking to show why he was taken early by the Cowboys. He’s coming into the year with a full season under his belt and a better understanding of Marinelli’s defense. Tyrone Crawford is not only a great leader for the younger guys, but he’s also very versatile being able to play both inside and outside. Guys like David Irving, and Maliek Collins have shown potential when healthy as well. Another guy we can’t forget is Randy Gregory whose been reinstated by the NFL. Gregory was regarded as a top 3 pass rusher in his draft class, now he’ll have another shot to showcase his skills and prove many doubters wrong. This is a very talented group that finished in the top half in sacks the previous year. Now we’ll see if they can move up and make a run to finish in the top 10.
New York Giants – 6 Points
This year the Giants will be transitioning to a 3-4 defense from a 4-3 defense. After being taken in the 2nd round Tomlinson has quickly become an impactful player. Dalvin Tomlinson led all rookies last season in interior stops with 26. Although he’s been great, the Giants went out to find him some help by drafting BJ Hill. Hill brings versatility that allows him to play anywhere on the line. Damon “snacks” Harrison is a guy that demands double teams on almost every down. His role will continue to be the guy that takes up space and eats blocks. New comer Josh Mauro is arriving from Arizona where he spent 4 years under the Giants new coach James Bettcher. Mauro is suspended for the first 4 games of the season but will provide solid depth to this new defense. Robert Thomas and Kerry Wynn will also be part of the rotation, both veterans are known for being run stoppers. After finishing second to last in yards allowed, this team will need the defensive line to step up.
Washington Redskins – 4 Points
Here’s a team that has done an excellent job getting younger on the defensive front. Jonathan Allen racked up 10 tackles and a sack during his 5 games last year. Allen was causing problems while on the field before suffering an injury that took him out for the year. To tag up with Allen, the Redskins sought out another Alabama player named Da’ron Payne. Payne isn’t a sack artist by any means, but he’s crucial to stopping the run. Due to his size most people tend to undervalue his athleticism. Payne will have an immediate impact on this defense that ranked last in the league against the run. Opposite of the Alabama boys will be Stacy McGee who started 10 games last year. While he may not jump off as a playmaker, McGee brings a veteran presence to help lead this defensive front. As for depth the Redskins still have the veteran Ziggy Hood, and also drafted Tim Settle. As a rookie Settle has to beat out multiple guys, but he’ll showcase his abilities during training camp that should land him a good role in this rotation.
These beasts are known for setting the tone for games and will be relied on heavily. Offenses will have many problems on their hands with this amount of talent on each line. Next week we’ll be going through the linebacker cores for each team. That may be the toughest group to evaluate thus far. Below you can see how these teams have stacked up against each other.