In this series, the Last Word on Sports NFL department will be selecting the best players in each division by position. With many changes coming to the NFC East team’s defenses this off-season, let’s take a look at the 2022 All-NFC East defensive team.
2022 NFC East All-Division Team: The Defense
Defensive End: Chase Young, Commanders
For the All-NFC East defensive team, Chase Young headlines as the best defensive lineman. Young suffered an ACL injury last season that will keep him off the field for at least week one. However, Young is a true talent and should continue terrorizing NFC offenses once he is back on his feet for the Washington Commanders. Young has had a rough start to his career with an above-average rookie season followed by a season-ending injury in 2021. The former Buckeye has amassed 9.0 sacks in two seasons with six passes defended and six fumbles forced. Young is primed for a breakout season leading this high-powered defensive line
Defensive Tackle: Fletcher Cox, Eagles
Next to Young stands Fletcher Cox. Cox is a highly talented veteran who has spent all 10 NFL seasons playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. Cox has long since preyed on NFC East offenses with 58 total sacks and 14 forced fumbles. The big defensive lineman is notorious for plugging up the running game and pursuing opposing quarterbacks and should continue to do the same leading a revamped Eagles in 2022.
Defensive Tackle: Jonathan Allen, Commanders
Jonathan Allen lands at the second defensive tackle position next to Cox. Allen has been great since entering the league in 2017 with 26 total sacks. The Washington Commanders have had offensive struggles in the past, but players like Allen, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young have been able to keep themselves in games defensively. The Commanders are looking at another great defensive season led by Allen and Young on opposite sides of the defensive line.
Daron Payne, Dexter Lawrence, and Leonard Williams are several other names who could be listed on the defensive line. Payne has had a good career since entering the NFL from Alabama in 2018. He could build on his 14.5 sacks and find himself on this list next year alongside his Washington teammates. Lawrence and Williams both head up the defensive line for the New York Giants. Both Lawrence and Williams hope to capitalize on a new season with high expectations starting with the defensive line.
Defensive End: Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys
Demarcus Lawrence commands the other end of the defensive line. The veteran pass rusher has racked up 48.5 sacks over eight seasons playing for the Dallas Cowboys. He missed a large chunk of last season with a broken fifth metatarsal. He was later activated on December 2nd but was only able to register three sacks and five passes defended in 2021. The veteran pass rusher is still very talented and should bounce back this year to lead a young Cowboys defensive line. The Cowboys defensive line will depend on the health of Lawrence and solid play from young guys like Neville Gallimore, Carlos Watkins, and Osa Odighizuwa.
Linebacker: Micah Parsons, Cowboys
Micah Parsons had a tremendous rookie season with 84 tackles, 62 solo tackles, and a whopping 13 sacks. Parsons brought life to a struggling defense by pressuring opposing quarterbacks early and often. The former Nittany Lion was selected to the Pro Bowl and was awarded first-team All-Pro as a rookie. Parsons was also awarded the Defensive Rookie of the Year unanimously. He will look to continue his dominance by pressuring the quarterback and covering the middle of the field.
A Micah Parsons Year 2 jump? 😳 pic.twitter.com/TWRAXxJQV5
— PFF (@PFF) July 28, 2022
Linebacker: Blake Martinez, Giants
Blake Martinez is next for the linebackers. Martinez got off to a rough start for the New York Giants after a solid tenure with the Green Bay Packers. The talented linebacker racked up three sacks with 151 tackles and 86 solo tackles in 2020, his first year in the Big Apple. In 2021 Martinez suffered a torn ACL during a week three matchup. He was placed on season-ending IR. He is looking to get back on track and return healthy to lead a hopeful Giants team in 2022.
Linebacker: Haason Reddick, Eagles
Haason Reddick rounds out the linebackers fresh off a great season with the Carolina Panthers. Reddick racked up 11 sacks last season and has decided to bring his talents to Philadelphia. He brings pass-rushing ability and underneath coverage to an already solid Philadelphia defense. The Eagles made a great move signing Reddick to bolster their struggling linebacker core to defend routes underneath and get after the passer.
Cornerback: Trevon Diggs, Cowboys
Trevon Diggs is coming off a career season in 2021 with 11 interceptions. Diggs was also selected to the Pro Bowl and awarded first-team All-Pro honors in his second season in the NFL. Diggs’s 11 interceptions were the most in the NFL and the most in a single season since 1981. The talented defensive back leads the Dallas Cowboys defense alongside Parsons and Jayron Kearse. With Diggs, Kearse, and Parsons, the Cowboys defense will keep them in games if the offense struggles.
Cornerback: Darius Slay, Eagles
Darius “Big Play,” Slay starts his third season with the Eagles. He has a knack for making big plays and defending any passes thrown his way. Slay had an impressive career for the Detroit Lions with 19 interceptions and 104 passes defended. He followed those numbers with four interceptions and 15 passes defended in two seasons for Philadelphia. Slay heads up a good secondary for an improved Philadelphia Eagles defense in 2022 with the addition of Reddick.
Lowest passer rating allowed in single coverage this season:
🔒 Darius Slay – 25.6 🔒 pic.twitter.com/y6msovasll
— PFF (@PFF) January 14, 2022
Safety: Xavier McKinney, Giants
Xavier McKinney headlines as the top Safety in the NFC East. During his second season, he intercepted five passes and defended 10 passes. McKinney keeps the lid on the secondary playing centerfield, minimizing or preventing big plays. The Giants have drastically improved their ranks through the draft and with free agency signings as of late and solid play from guys like McKinney, should improve and compete for the division in 2022.
Safety: Jayron Kearse, Dallas Cowboys
Jayron Kearse is the last name on this list. He has had a quietly solid career with 20 passes defended and three interceptions over six seasons. Kearse plays centerfield very well preventing big plays when aggressive players like Diggs bite on double moves and get burned downfield. Kearse will be a key player for the Cowboys minimizing damage from the overly aggressive Diggs and helping Parsons control the run game. If he can get more involved defending passes the Cowboys defense will have another year above expectations.
Be sure to check out the 2022 NFC East All-Divison Offensive Team.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images