2022 AFC West Defense: All-Division Team

2022 AFC West Defense

As we reach training camp and get closer to preseason, it’s time to take a look at the best players in each division by position. Here we will be looking at the AFC West All-Division Team. This is quite arguably the most stacked division in the entire NFL and possibly even one of the most stacked divisions of all time. As such, there will be some tough choices to be made and some players that would probably make the list in other divisions will not make it here. This article will focus on the 2022 AFC West defense and will be using a 3-4 defensive formation.

2022 AFC West Defense: The All-Division Team

Defensive End: Dre’Mont Jones (Denver Broncos)

When it comes to 3-4 defensive ends, Dre’Mont Jones has been fairly solid the last couple of years. He’s had 12 sacks over that time period, 16 tackles for a loss, 22 quarterback hits, and one forced fumble and recovery. He’s not one to stuff the stat sheet, but he’s quite capable of getting the job done at the line of scrimmage.

Defensive Tackle: Chris Jones (Kansas City Chiefs)

Chris Jones is a monster at defensive tackle and one of the best in the league at his position, having gone All-Pro three of the last four seasons. While he hasn’t topped his 2018 numbers of 15.5 sacks, he’s still a force to be reckoned with, having put up 23.5 sacks over the last three years. His best game in 2021 came when he had 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble and recovery against the Dallas Cowboys, which helped him become the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Jones is one of those linemen that can cause problems for the offense essentially by himself. He’s been playing at a high level for a while now and is still in his prime, so this can be expected to continue for quite a while yet.

Defensive End: Sebastian Joseph-Day (Los Angeles Chargers)

While Joseph-Day is currently listed as a defensive tackle, he is currently projected to play 3-4 defensive end on the Chargers lineup. In that spot, he’d be quite serviceable. He was well on his way to a career year in 2021 before getting injured and only playing seven games. He’d started getting to the quarterback more, getting three sacks in those seven games. If Joseph-Day can stay healthy for the whole season (or most of the season) as he did in 2019 and 2020, then he may well be on his way to a proper breakout season, but he’s already done enough to warrant a spot here – though granted, solid/proven 3-4 defensive ends are not in high supply in the West at the moment.

Outside Linebacker: Joey Bosa (Chargers)

The West has a lot of top-tier talent at edge-rusher. In particular, between Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Maxx Crosby, and Chandler Jones, it feels almost a travesty to leave any of them off. But we can only pick two of them. Bosa has been a monster at pass-rusher for years and has been consistently racking up the sacks. He has 29.5 sacks over the last three years, having 10.5 of them in 2021. He also had seven forced fumbles, which was tied for second most in the league.

Bosa has evidently adjusted to playing 3-4 outside linebacker (as opposed to 4-3 defensive end) quite well and should continue to be a nightmare for quarterbacks for years yet.

Inside Linebacker: Denzel Perryman (Las Vegas Raiders)

Perryman had a huge breakout season in 2021 with the Raiders, finishing with a career-high 154 combined tackles and 102 solo – the former of which was a franchise record. This helped him get the first Pro Bowl berth of his career. He had done well with the Chargers in the past, but struggled with injuries for most of his early career and never put together an elite year. However, he has finally established himself more properly; time will tell if he will be able to keep up that level of play, but he has more than earned his spot on this list.

Inside Linebacker: Nick Bolton (Kansas City Chiefs)

The West is pretty lacking in Pro Bowl talent among inside linebackers outside of Perryman – to the point where perhaps the most solid option outside of Perryman is Nick Bolton, who is just coming off his rookie year. It was certainly a solid rookie year, where he had 112 combined tackles (70 solo), one fumble recovery touchdown, and 11 tackles for a loss. He was good at stopping the run as well. If he keeps that level of play up, he may eventually get a Pro Bowl nod.

Outside Linebacker: Maxx Crosby (Raiders)

Crosby was already a quite solid pass-rusher entering 2021, but he broke out into top-tier territory this past season. He went Second-Team All-Pro, thanks to having career highs in tackles (56), quarterback hits (30), and pass deflections (seven). His total of eight sacks wasn’t jaw-dropping, but he was still a nightmare for quarterbacks regardless, and he is pretty firmly establishing himself now as one of the better edge-rushers in the league.

Cornerback: J.C. Jackson (Chargers)

Why the New England Patriots allowed this guy to walk in free agency is a mystery, but the Chargers will certainly not be complaining. Jackson is one of the best ball-hawks in the league, having nabbed 17 interceptions over the last two years – no one else has more in that time period. (He had nine in 2020 and eight in 2021, respectively.) He also led the league in pass deflections in 2021 with 23. This sent him to his first Pro Bowl and his first All-Pro honors.

Jackson is one of the better young defensive backs in football right now and should continue to be a problem for opposing quarterbacks for years to come.

[pickup_prop id=”21816″]

Free Safety: Justin Simmons (Broncos)

The West has a few elite members among the secondaries, and free safety Justin Simmons is another one of them. Having hit his stride in 2019, he has gotten either Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors every year since. In those three years, he has nabbed 14 interceptions and had 36 pass deflections – with five of those interceptions and 12 of those deflections being in 2021. Also to his credit, he has not missed a single game since 2017.

Strong Safety: Derwin James (Chargers)

James has had his struggles with injuries at times, but it’s rather telling that in his four seasons, both of the ones where he has played a full season (or almost full), he has gone All-Pro. He’s one of the best at his position, but he is also quite capable of playing essentially anywhere on the defense. He’s been in on 100 tackles in both 2018 and 2021 and had five career interceptions, plus three forced fumbles in 2021. His ability to be a defensive everyman elevates him a step further, which says something given that he is already a top-tier talent at safety.

Cornerback: Patrick Surtain II (Broncos)

After seeing that previous elite talent in the secondary, it may be surprising to find there isn’t another All-Pro/Pro Bowler cornerback in the West. However, if Patrick Surtain II takes steps forward after an already quite promising rookie year, he ought to be well on his way there at some point. In his rookie season, he pulled in four interceptions – two of them in one game including a pick-six against the Los Angeles Chargers, which got him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Surtain is a quite promising young cornerback and even after just one year, is one of the best options at his position in the division.

2022 AFC West Offense: All-Division Team

[pickup_prop id=”25339″]

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images