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2018 NFC West All-Division Team: Defense and Special Teams

2018 NFC West All-Division Defense and Special Teams: All four teams have enough talent to give opposing offensive coordinators nightmares.
2018 NFC West All-Division Team

The NFC West is shaping up to be one of the best divisions in all of football. On defense, two of the most respected coaches in the league are Pete Carroll and Wade Phillips. All four teams have enough talent to give opposing offensive coordinators nightmares. The defense will be aligned as a 4-3, as a majority of NFC West teams prefer that style. Here is how the NFC All-Division defense and special teams would line up.

2018 NFC West All-Division Team: Defense and Special Teams

Defensive Tackle: Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald is perhaps the most obvious pick of this entire exercise. Donald is the first defensive tackle to win Defensive Player of the Year since Warren Sapp in 1999. He racked up 11 sacks in 2017 despite missing the first game due to a contract holdout, and missing the last game due to rest. Donald is currently in another contract dispute with the Los Angeles Rams, which would be the only reason he could potentially not be a permeant fixture on this list.

Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh

Entering the league as the second overall pick in the 2010 draft, Ndamukong Suh has been the gold standard of defensive tackle play. Throughout his career with the Detroit Lions and the Miami Dolphins, Suh was named All-Pro three times. Now, for the Rams, he will be paired with arguably the only defensive tackle better than him in Donald.

Defensive End: DeForest Buckner

DeForest Buckner is more of a defensive tackle than a defensive end, but he possesses a skill set to play both. Buckner is too good to not be included on this team in some capacity. He finished the 2017 season as the sixth highest graded defensive lineman by PFF.

Defensive End: Chandler Jones

No edge-rusher had a more productive season in 2017 than Chandler Jones. Jones abused opposing offensive tackles like his brother, Jon “Bones” Jones, would beat up his UFC opponents. Jones led the league with 17 sacks and was named All-Pro.

Outside Linebacker: Frank Clark

The more playing time Frank Clark has gotten with the Seattle Seahawks, the more productive he has been. In 2017, Clark started 12 games, a career high, and led the Seahawks with nine sacks. Clark is more of a defensive end, but registered snaps as a Sam-linebacker as well.

Middle Linebacker: Bobby Wagner

Bobby Wagner is arguably the best linebacker in all of football. In 2017, he had the highest PFF grade of all linebackers and was the third highest graded player overall. Wagner was also tied for first in solo tackles.

Middle Linebacker: Reuben Foster

Despite only playing in 10 games for the San Francisco 49ers, Reuben Foster was one of the best linebackers in the league. The rookie linebacker missed several games with various injuries but still made a positive impact. Foster was the second highest graded rookie in 2017 by PFF and the fourth highest linebacker.

Safety: Earl Thomas

Earl Thomas is not only the last remaining player from the Legion of Boom on the Seahawks but perhaps the most important. With Thomas, the Seahawks were a formidable defense. When he got hurt, it was as if the entire defense forgot how to play football.

Safety: Lamarcus Joyner

Though both Thomas and Lamarcus Joyner are free safeties, they both should be included on this team. The Florida State product has spent time at both safety and cornerback but has found a home at the top of the Ram’s defense. Joyner was the third highest graded safety in 2017 by PFF.

Cornerback: Patrick Peterson

Since being drafted fifth overall in the 2011 draft by the Arizona Cardinals, Patrick Peterson has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league. The three-time All-Pro has made the Pro Bowl in every season of his career. He has also been a model of durability, starting every game in that span.

Cornerback: Richard Sherman

While Peterson is an obvious candidate to make this team, the second cornerback spot was not so obvious. New Rams additions Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are both deserving, but Richard Sherman ultimately wins the spot. Sherman has been considered the best cornerback in the league for several years, but last year his season was cut short. If he regains his form, he may deserve to be on the All-Pro team, rather than just the NFC West team.

Kicker: Robbie Gould

The NFC West featured two of the best kickers in both Robbie Gould and Greg Zuerlein. Gould, however, receives the nod for this team. Gould led the league in field goals made and was second in field goal percentage. He was also perfect from 50 yards or greater.

Punter: Johnny Hekker

There is arguably no better punter in the league than Johnny Hekker. Since coming into the league in 2012, Hekker has been named All-Pro four times, including the last three in a row. Not only is his punting outstanding, but he is also very good when it comes to fake punts. He has posted a career quarterback rating of 112.4.

Kick Returner: Pharoh Cooper

Due to trading an abundance of picks for the number one overall pick, the Rams only made four selections in the 2016 draft. One was Pharoh Cooper, who wasn’t taken until the fourth round. Cooper hasn’t made a huge impact as a wide receiver but has been deadly as a return man. In 2017, he led the NFL in return yards per kickoff, and was second in return yards per punt, earning him All-Pro honors.

Be sure to check out the NFC West All-Division Team on offense.

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