NFC East Preseason All-Americans: Defense edition

NFC D

Pass rushers: The two first teamers are obvious. This will be a huge year for both Anthony Spencer and Brian Orakpo, who are both in contract years, although Spencer is used to having to “prove it,” which he did last season. Ryan Kerrigan was up and down last year, but showed so much as a rookie that I know he can play. The jury is still out on Brandon Graham, who still has yet to play 500 snaps in any season, although he showed a lot of promise last year.

Interior D-Line: Fletcher Cox is probably already the best interior defensive lineman in the NFC East, and Barry Cofield is a player who flat out balled down the stretch last season. Linval Joseph had a little bit of a hiccup last year after a very promising rookie season, and Jason Hatcher is a nice starter. Jay Ratliff is definitely in decline at this point, but can still play. It’ll be interesting to see how he looks in a 4-3. Cullen Jenkins is a one-dimensional interior pass rusher at this point in his career, but still an effective role player if used properly. I hated leaving Mike Patterson off this list, but he has significant health concerns.

43 Linebackers / 34 ILB: Sean Lee and Bruce Carter are by far the most talented linebackers in this group. They are also by far the most injury prone. I took the two old heads for my second teamers (although I wonder how much Fletcher has left), and a pair of young guys I really like so far as my 3′s. Williams in particular is an interesting player. I really haven’t quite figured him out yet. Is he a S/LB tweener? Is he going to be a 3-down guy? What I do know is that he’s very talented, and in my opinion, he’s the best of the Giants linebackers. Mychal Kendricks needs to bounce back from a rookie season that didn’t wow anybody.

CB: The CB position is kind of a mess in the NFC East. The secondaries in general just aren’t very good. Brandon Carr was decent enough last season, but I wouldn’t say he has lived up to his massive contract just yet. Still, he’s probably the best CB in the division right now. Right behind him would be Prince Amukamara, who keeps getting better. Ditto that for Morris Claiborne, who should be better in year 2. And then it gets ugly. Josh Wilson is a solid starter, but in any other division he might struggle making a similar kind of list, much less make it to the 2nd team. Cary Williams is as physical as they come. To be determined how well he’ll cover in Philly. Corey Webster was so good in 2011, and so God awful in 2012. If he can be a player somewhere in the middle, I think the Giants would take that. And yes, I’m aware that DeAngelo Hall had a good game against Dez Bryant Week 17 last year.

Slot CBs: Brandon Boykin was the best player in the Eagles secondary last season, which isn’t saying much, although he still put together a good rookie season. And we’re referring to “Boykin the corner,” not “Boykin the kick returner.” Orlando Scandrick is thought to be one of the better slot corners in the NFL. I don’t see it. Solid role player, nothing more. Technically, E.J. Biggers will probably play on the outside when he comes in, and Hall will move inside, but since he’ll likely be the “3rd guy” we’ll lump him in here. Frankly, I’d give Biggers a hard look at a starting job with Hall coming off the bench, but that won’t happen. Jayron Hosley started off his rookie campaign very well, but had some really bad games as the season progressed.

S: Holy hell, what a disaster.

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27 Comments

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  6. Brian says:

    3 of the top 4 safeties went to the U. Chip, 2 years from now, DRAFT DEON.

  7. Brett says:

    Amukamara first team? He must be the best of a bad bunch.

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  9. Tim says:

    Yeah, this is just not accurate. Look at the best teams to run this scheme: Colts under Dungy, Vikings in 92-94, Bucs under Kiffin. Ware and Spencer compare favorably to these DEs (and the Cowboys compare favorably in the front 4 overall) in terms of size. See here if you need more info:
    http://www.cowboysnation.com/2013/05/the-sprinters-scheme-part-3-getting.html

    Your weight-based “wear down” argument (and I’ve seen lots of people make it) seems more based on speculation about some abstract concept of a 4-3 defense versus a 3-4, instead of an actual understanding of what this particular scheme looks like in action. Check out the defenses I mentioned above– these are more helpful examples than having to guess at what might happen to these DEs next year.

    1. Tim says:

      Sorry, this was supposed to go below– it’s referring to mjoedgaard’s comment, not the overall post.

    2. mjoedgaard says:

      If we look at the 2002 Bucs. the best DE was Simeon Rice at around 270 pounds, the best DE for the Colts was Freeney at just under 270 (Im using official numbers as that is the only thing we can compare). Ware is official 254 pounds, so he would need another 15 pounds to be in that those others area and Spencer would need to add 15-20.

      Yes there is a Mathis who is light, but they are the exception, not the rule.

      Also to your point down below about Ware lining up wide 9 on the weak side. First PLEASE let him line up wide 9 on every down so we can run down the Cowboys throat and 2nd, the weakside thing is bogus as you could just let the TE motion over if it was really a problem.

      Ware will not be moved around like he was before, because that is extremely impractical for a 4-3 DE, so he will be facing the likes of Jason Peters on every down instead of having him been able to move around and exploit the worth pass protector.

  10. dannymac056 says:

    100% agree. Really like the Antrel Rolle and Fletcher Cox picks as 1st teamers- both spots I thought you might go a different direction.

  11. mjoedgaard says:

    I suppose Kenny Phillips is only 2nd string because of his knees?

    Its clear that this division got tons of talent at pass rushers (I mean Justin Tuck and Trent Cole are left off) and then some good players at LB and DT, but omg the secondaries in the NFCE.

    1. Jimmy Kempski says:

      Yep, knees.

    2. Tim says:

      Will be interesting to see how Spencer/Ware are affected by having to play more with their hands down on the line, and Cole/Graham having to play more standing up and not moving forward all the time.

      1. mjoedgaard says:

        Unless Ware and Spencer get up into the 270 range, they is a great chance they will be worn down unless they are aligned wide and are just rushing the passer.
        Right now the Eagles nickle is a 4-2, so there is a good chance that Cole and Graham wont fell the same problem and they might have an easier time because they will get the chance to rush 1v1 with TEs and RBs now, something a 4-3 DE is never able to do.

        1. KD says:

          is there evidence along those lines? Mathis played at 235 and he never seemed to wear down as the season went on. In fact, he consistently played well down the stretch of a season before moving to 3-4 OLB. Ware will be fine.
          Spencer plays at 261, where Freeney played at 268, is there really a difference there?

          Wake played DE at 238, seemed fine.

          I think people want to believe that moving to 4-3 DE will be a challenge without much evidence to that being the case. Pass rushers that play the run extremely well and no longer have to drop into coverage? Probably a good idea.

          1. mjoedgaard says:

            You can always find outliers, but as a 4-3 DE you are battling with a 300 pound OT on every down, where as an 3-4 OLB you are often 1v1 with a TE or RB or you a dropping back in coverage. There is a reason why a 4-3 DE can only play around 60-70% of the defensive snaps where a 3-4 OLB is over 90% for a guy like Ware.

            If Ware is still going to play 90% of the defensive snaps at his current weight, he will be worn down.

            Another concern is that Ware is so good in space and using that to his advantage when he is pass rushing that its going to be a whole new world having to be up close and battle with that OT, the same concern is there for a guy like Cole, but the other way around. He is really good at using leverage against the OT that having to be more of speed rusher is also something he isnt so used to (got alittle experince from the wide 9).

            1. Scott says:

              take a looksee and watch how many times Ware is 1on1 with a TE or a RB..if that was the case in his career he would have already broken the Sack record for a season years ago….He routinely goes up against the left tackles in games and is usually doubled with a TE or chipped by a RB as well…

              the biggest difference for him to get used to is playing from a 3 point stance all the time instead of just in the nickel….he will do fine without having to worry about dropping into coverage…

            2. Tim says:

              These aren’t outliers. Check out Dungy’s Colts, the 92-94 Vikings, and the early 2000s Bucs. Ware will be playing weakside DE, which will have him in a wide set outside the LT on most downs, on the non-TE side.

        2. Chandus says:

          “Right now the Eagles nickle is a 4-2, so there is a good chance that Cole and Graham wont fell the same problem and they might have an easier time because they will get the chance to rush 1v1 with TEs and RBs now, something a 4-3 DE is never able to do.”

          The Cowboys Nickel and Dime packages also used to have Ware and Spencer in 4 or 5 man lines and usually with their hands on the ground, especially when Wade and Parcells were in charge of the D.

          Sure, those were passing downs and they were asked to rush the passer, but with Kiffin, they’re supposed to rush the passer first, disrupting rushing lanes if the play isn’t pass.

          Look at film from the Colts D under Dungy.

        3. Tim says:

          Yeah, this is just not accurate. Look at the best teams to run this scheme: Colts under Dungy, Vikings in 92-94, Bucs under Kiffin. Ware and Spencer compare favorably to these DEs (and the Cowboys compare favorably in the front 4 overall) in terms of size. See here if you need more info:
          http://www.cowboysnation.com/2013/05/the-sprinters-scheme-part-3-getting.html

          Your weight-based “wear down” argument (and I’ve seen lots of people make it) seems more based on speculation about some abstract concept of a 4-3 defense versus a 3-4, instead of an actual understanding of what this particular scheme looks like in action. Check out the defenses I mentioned above– these are more helpful examples than having to guess at what might happen to these DEs next year.

  12. NYG_Slater says:

    oye, when guys like Will Hill and Patrick Chung make the third team while Justin Tuck gets left off (deservedly), you know the safety position is a shitfest.

    1. NYG_Slater says:

      Oh and no disrespect to Will Hill. If i had to pick safeties to play…..I’d start Will Hill ahead of Rolle and Meriweather, If only to quicken his development…

  13. Joe D says:

    Yikes… bEast does not have that impressive amount of stars on defnese…

  14. KD says:

    Cowboys lover.

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