2022 NFC East Breakdown by Position: The Defense

Defense Article: NFC East Defense Breakdown

During the month of August, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be breaking down every division in the league by position. This article contains a position-by-position breakdown of the NFC East defenses. The breakdown will contain “the best” at each unit followed by “the rest” in descending order.

Related: AFC South All-Offense

2022 NFC East Defense Breakdown by Position: The Defense

Defensive Line

The Best: New York Giants

The Rest: Washington Commanders, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles

The New York Giants headline the NFC East defensive line starting with Leonard Williams. Williams has 35.5 career sacks and has solidified his reputation as a premiere defensive lineman in the NFL. After Williams is Dexter Lawrence and Azeez Ojulari. Ojulari was great last season with 13 starts. In 17 total games played, Ojulari forced a fumble, defended two passes, and racked up eight sacks with 49 total takles. Lawrence has played well with nine career sacks in three seasons with the Giants. The former Clemson Tiger has impressed with 145 tackles and 81 solo tackles in that time span. Lawrence is primed for a breakout season in year four aside Williams and Ojulari.

The Washington Commanders are next on this list with Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. Payne is entering his fifth season out of Alabama with 14.5 sacks and 227 total tackles. Allen Compliments Payne with 26 sacks and 264 sacks since 2017. Both are former Crimson Tide linemen and should continue to terrorize the NFC East.

Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave are next for the Philadelphia Eagles. Cox is a veteran with 58 career sacks and over 400 career tackles since 2012. Cox has played his entire career with Philadelphia and has stabilized the run defense since entering the league. Hargrave has spent his last two seasons in Philadelphia with 12 total sacks adding to his 14.5 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hargrave and Cox are two great linemen that plug up the middle and control the ground game. Last on this list is the Dallas Cowboys with Osa Odighizuwa and Neville Gallimore. Both these players are young and have a lot to prove. Overall the NFC East is very talented at the defensive line position and should make for some interesting trench warfare.

[pickup_prop id=”24384″]

Edge Rushers

The Best: Washington Commanders

The Rest: New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles

Chase Young and Montez Sweat own the edge rusher position in the NFC East. Young has had his career somewhat derailed by injuries in his first two seasons missing two games his rookie season and only playing in nine games in 2021. Sweat also missed time in 2021 leading to some tough defensive games for the Commanders. Sweat and Young have a combined 30 sacks since 2019 and are very dangerous when on the field together.

The Giants and Kayvon Thibodeaux come in after the Commanders. The rookie edge rusher suffered a knee injury in the preseason but is expected to make his debut during the season opener. Thibodeaux is a very talented rusher who is likely to make his presence known his first time on the field.

The last two teams include Dallas and Philadelphia. The most talented edge rusher left is DeMarcus Lawrence. This aging rusher still has some life left in his game, but he needs to have a big season for the Cowboys to compete for the NFC East. The Eagles Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat are very talented but will still be looking up to the Commanders. A breakout season for Sweat could catapult the Eagles into the lead for the NFC East.

Linebackers

The Best: Dallas Cowboys

The Rest: New York Giants, Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas has the most complete and talented linebacking group with Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, Anthony Barr, and Jabril Cox. Parsons and Vander Esch are very talented in all aspects of the game. They control the run game well while covering opposing linebackers and running backs. Parsons is coming off a tremendous rookie season after being awarded the defensive rookie of the year and being selected as an All-Pro linebacker. Parsons looks to double down on his 13 sacks last season and lead the Cowboys to the playoffs.

The Commanders and Eagles are both looking for leadership at the linebacker position. Philadelphia will likely lean on Haasan Reddick and his 31 career sacks during his first season as an Eagle. Meanwhile, the Commanders are hopeful Jamin Davis can improve his game and back up their impressive defensive line.

Cornerbacks

The Best: Philadelphia Eagles

The Rest: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Commanders

The Eagles continue to command the NFC East secondary with Darius “Big Play,” Slay, and James Bradberry. Slay has put together a fantastic career with 23 interceptions and 119 passes defended. Bradberry is no slouch with 15 interceptions and 82 passes defended in six seasons. The Eagles have one of the better cornerback groups in the NFL.

Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown are next in this super-talented division. Diggs is hot off an All-Pro season with 11 interceptions and 21 passes defended. He is entering his third season leading the Dallas Cowboys secondary. The Giants and Commanders bring up the rear in the NFC East with Adoree Jackson, Aaron Robinson, Kendal Fuller, and William Jackson III. New York and Washington will be looking for breakout players and impact players to solidify their secondary during the 2022 season.

Safeties

The Best: Dallas Cowboys

The Rest: New York Giants, Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles

As talented as the cornerbacks are, the safeties are as equally pedestrian. Dallas has the best group with Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, and second-year safety Kelvin Joseph. Kearse and the Giants McKinney are the two most talented safeties in the division while the rest of the division searches for centerfielders. The Commanders will deploy Kamren Curl and Bobby McCain while the Eagles expect solid play from Marcus Epps and Anthony Harris.