The draft is done, the free agents have been signed, the coaches have met their players. Now there’s not much to do but wait for training camp. While we wait, it seemed like it might be fun to evaluate and rank the NFC East position-by-position.
Last off-season, Hogs Haven published articles that focused on ranking position groups and head coaches in an effort to identify what the division would look like in 2018. This year, we’re going to look at the division again, but we’re gonna try to ramp things up a bit by adding some film analysis to some of the position group reviews.
Click here to read the other “Ranking the NFC East” articles in this series
This article has 4 sections:
- A very brief positional overview of where each of the 4 teams is at with the edge rusher position, but with a little extra focus on the Redskins.
- A simple film review of 7 of the top edge rushers in the NFC East this season: Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Anderson, Montez Sweat, Demarcus Lawrence, Lorenzo Carter, Derek Barnett, and Brandon Graham.
- A list of the top of the depth chart (4-5 players) for each of the 4 teams in the division.
- Some poll questions focused on identifying the best edge rusher in the division, as well as the teams with the strongest and weakest pass rush groups in the division.
Let’s start with the brief review.
Last year, Olivier Vernon led the Giants with seven sacks, but he is now in Cleveland, along with his teammate Odell Beckham Jr. This leaves Lorenzo Carter, who was second-best of the team’s edge rushers in 2018, with 4 sacks, as the returning edge-rushing sack leader for the New York team.
The rest of the Giants’ edge rushing unit seems to be made up of mid-to-late round draft picks, street free agents and college free agents. This group, to my eye, has the appearance of the Redskins’ 2018 wide receiver corps - some average talent, backed up by unproven talent. I just don’t see enough proven pass rush power across the front seven of the Giants to create any consistent problems for opposing offensive coordinators, although they have spent a number of draft picks here (particularly on the defensive interior). This defense may even regress from the rather paltry 30 total sacks they accumulated in 2018.
Conversely, the Eagles looked stacked in the pass rush department — a statement that seems to be true every year. We highlight the two first-round picks, Barnett and Graham, in the film room, below, but didn’t do film review of former 2nd-round pick, Vinny Curry...or last year’s 4th rounder, Josh Sweat...or this year’s 4th rounder, Shareef Miller.
The Eagles were second in the division in sacks behind the Redskins last year, amassing 44 sacks.
When you look at the inside of the defensive line and see Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson backed up by Tim Jernigan, it’s easy to see why Eagles fans are feeling good about their ability to put pressure on the passer (again) this season.
The Redskins have gotten consistent production from Ryan Kerrigan for eight seasons now. Kerrigan has never missed a game, and he has produced between 7.5 and 13.5 sacks per season every season. In fact, his only year with less than 8.5 sacks was his rookie year.
Kerrigan has had some good partners over the years, including Brian Orakpo, Preston Smith and Junior Galette, but this season may give the Redskins the best weapon they’ve had yet in Montez Sweat, a 6’6”, 260 pound package of speed and muscle that should up the ante for Washington’s opponents in 2019.
The Redskins, like the Eagles, are already possessed of a strong interior pass rush, with Jon Allen, Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne combining for 20.5 sacks in 2018 alone.
With the entire young 5-man interior DL group returning with another year of experience, and the addition of Montez Sweat in place of Preston Smith, who left in free agency, the Redskins seem primed to improve on the division-leading 46 sacks they logged last season.
The Cowboys boast a big-money pass rusher in Demarcus Lawrence, who just finished a season on the franchise tag, and was rewarded with a 5-year, $105m contract, though he regressed from a division-leading 14.5 sacks in 2017 to 10.5 sacks in 2018. Lawrence really made his reputation in a single 9-game stretch to open the ‘17 season in which he accumulated 11.5 sacks in 9 games. He has added just 13.5 sacks in the last 23 regular season games he has played for the Cowboys, and has just 34 sacks in 5 seasons with Dallas. However, it was revealed in October of 2018 that Lawrence had been playing through a torn labrum for 2 years, and he finally got surgery to correct the injury after signing his extension this offseason. It will be interesting to see what he produces following the surgery and the big contract.
Randy Gregory and Tyrone Crawford ranked 2nd and 3rd on the team in 2018, combining for another 11.5 sacks. Of course, Gregory has, once again, been suspended by the NFL — this time for an indefinite period of time.
The Cowboys traded for Robert Quinn this off-season — Quinn’s second time being traded in as many years. He has compiled 15 sacks over the past two seasons, and 24 over the past 4 years. Of course Taco Charlton was a first-round pick in 2017, but he has just 4 sacks in his NFL career to date.
All in all, this Cowboy defense doesn’t look to have the ingredients for a fearsome pass rush in ‘19, but if Lawrence and Quinn can revive some of their past magic, they could do some damage, and possibly match the 39-sack total (3rd in NFC East) they put up in 2018.
The film room: Andrew’s analysis
In this section, we’ll offer a look at a few of the top players in the division, with an analysis of their styles, skills and limitations written by Andrew York, who has volunteered to help me with this series.
Andrew is a self-taught film analyst with a pretty impressive resume. He has a PhD in Experimental Particle Physics and has spent several years doing research with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, and now does R&D work as a US government contractor. He will put that analytical brain to work this off-season helping to analyze some of the top players in the NFC East.
Let’s see what Andrew thinks about some of the NFC East’s top running backs. He will look at 7 players, in order:
- Ryan Kerrigan
- Ryan Anderson
- Montez Sweat
- Demarcus Lawrence
- Lorenzo Carter
- Derek Barnett
- Bandon Graham
Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins
Ryan Kerrigan is one of my favorite Redskins. He always seems like a positive, consistent, reliable force on the team and achieves consistently high production every year. As a result, it is very difficult to remain objective in this film analysis, but I will do my best.
Ryan Kerrigan has an explosive first step and great ability to cover short distances quickly to get a tackle or sack, but in space, most quarterbacks can run away from him due to his limited speed. He also has great field awareness, keeping his eyes on the ball throughout a play and adjusting to get to the ball carrier whenever possible.
His primary pass rush move is a bull rush, and he can transmit a lot of power from his base to his inside arm to stand someone up and walk him back before making a play on the ball carrier.
Perhaps his most impressive trait is his consistency. He will always perform his assignment and is always ready to capitalize on the mistakes of the opposing team. In addition, he is an excellent tackler and good in run defense. He also has an uncanny ability to turn sacks into strip sacks and was the Big Ten’s all time leader in forced fumbles as a senior in college.
However, Kerrigan is not as versatile as some of the NFL’s other top OLBs. If he can’t win with a bull rush, he does not have very elite bend to win around the edge (he can’t get as low as, say, a player like Von Miller). He also does not have a wide array of counters to defeat an opponent if he doesn’t win on first contact. And lastly, he is neither very fast nor very good in coverage.
Overall, Kerrigan is a consistent, dependable, productive player, but not an elite player who forces teams to gameplan against him. He bullies lower-tier offensive tackles consistently, and most of his production comes against them, but he struggles against the upper-tier offensive tackles of the NFL, and, in my film review, I never saw him double-teamed, although this could also be due to the amount of respect opposing offenses showed the Redskins players who make up the interior of the DL.
Redskins vs Cowboys, Week 7 | NFL 2018 on YouTube
Posted by Bill Chula on Wednesday, June 5, 2019
[5:51] Kerrigan does a great job bull-rushing La’el Collins. It looks like Kerrigan explodes so quickly off the line that Collins doesn’t really have a chance to get set, and Kerrigan uses his inside (right) hand to stand Collins up and walk him back, then does a good job shedding him to make the sack. I saw plays like this in multiple games.
[8:01] One of the highlights of last year. Kerrigan is initially successfully blocked by Cowboys TE Geoff Swain, but then Swain abandons the block to act as a quick read for Dak. Dak takes a long time scanning the field, failing to see Swain get open or Kerrigan closing in on him until it’s too late. Kerrigan does a great job keeping his eyes on the QB, shows decisiveness to immediately rush him when an opening appears, and shows great short-area quickness closing that distance so quickly. This play also showcases Kerrigan’s ability to punch the ball loose on a sack (allowing Preston Smith to get the defensive TD).
Redskins @ Eagles, Week 13 | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[6:28] Kerrigan gets stonewalled by Lane Johnson and taken out of the play completely. This is what it looks like when he attempts a bull rush, but the opposing tackle is stronger, longer, and able to set his base.
[7:10] Having had no success with the bull rush, Kerrigan tries to rush around the edge, but gets walled off by Lane Johnson and held in place until it’s too late to make a play. Kerrigan shows no counter moves (hand fighting and/or a spin move) to redirect inside and make a play on the RB. I saw this too often against very good offensive tackles.
[37:55] Kerrigan breaks off to cover Ertz and easily could have given up a big play if not for an overthrow by Wentz. He doesn’t look especially nimble side-stepping at the line, doesn’t do a good job jamming Ertz at the line (which is realistically the only way he could have won this matchup), and doesn’t flip his hips quickly enough, nor mirror Ertz well enough, to keep pace with him once Ertz begins his route. Overall, Kerrigan looks stiff and lacks nuance in coverage. He is much better with his hand in the dirt, and several plays like this helped me understand Mark Tyler’s insistence that the Redskins switch to a 4-3 defense where he wouldn’t have coverage responsibilities.
Ryan Anderson, Washington Redskins
Ryan Anderson was a controversial Redskins draft pick in the 2nd round of 2017. Although he was a starter at Alabama with good college production, he lacked many of the athletic measurables that are typical of high-level NFL players at the OLB position. He has short 31.5” arms, he ran a slow 40 time, and his vertical jump and 3-cone time do not indicate good explosion or agility respectively. However, he was known by his Alabama teammates as a tone setter, a player who took every play seriously and demanded seriousness during practice. He was also noted for his strength, aggression, and his ability to set a physical edge.
Anderson was virtually invisible on the Redskins defense in his rookie year. Teams typically prefer their strongside (left) OLB to be a physical edge-setter who is good against the run, the role for which Ryan Anderson is best suited. However, the Redskins already have a starting LOLB in Ryan Kerrigan, so it was always going to be tough for Anderson to get playing time. Anderson reportedly slimmed down and sped up in his second year, earning more snaps as a rotational LOLB.
After watching tape of Anderson in 2018, I think he is a very Rudy-like player who I find myself wanting to root for. His short arms make it hard for him to stand a tackle up and drive him back in the manner of Ryan Kerrigan. Nor does he have Kerrigan’s ability to close short distances quickly to make a play.
But what he lacks in physical ability, he makes up for in effort. He is a very smart and technically sound player who does a great job scanning the backfield and keeping his eyes on the ball so that he always knows when he can make a play, even if he’s currently being blocked.
He is strong and keeps his hands active so that they don’t get locked up, making him available if the play comes to him. And although his short arms make it tough to win on a bull rush, he shows very good technique and effort bending around the edge to get to the QB.
Most notably, he never quits on a play. Football is a taxing sport, and even the best players often make decisions about when they are no longer involved in a play so they can rest and conserve energy. I never saw that from Ryan Anderson. He is always trying to hustle towards the ball and maintains his assignments until the whistle blows.
Although I think he only displayed backup-level ability in last year’s tape, he is a very reliable backup who could be very effective if he could somehow take a leap forward athletically. It’s not likely to happen, but he’s someone I find myself rooting for.
Redskins vs Cowboys, Week 7 highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[7:13] Anderson is slow in his get off, but keeps his hands from getting locked up and keeps his eyes on the ball, so that when the play shifts in an unexpected direction, he is able to break free and run to Dak for the sack. I would describe most of Anderson’s big plays as “opportunistic” like this one, but those opportunities are only possible because he keeps his eyes on the ball and never gives up on a play. Note that La’el Collins seemed to decide this play was over while Anderson was still fighting.
Redskins @ Eagles, Week 13 | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[10:10] Anderson times the snap well and is the first player off the line. He tries bull rushing Lane Johnson and is ineffective, as Johnson is able to use his long arms to keep Anderson at bay. Anderson keeps his eyes on the ball, sees Wentz trying to get around the edge, and uses his strength and active hands to break free to intercept. Wentz redirects inside and Anderson can’t quite get there before Wentz makes the pass. Anderson effectively sealed the edge and kept Wentz on his toes, never giving up on the play. However, it’s evident here that Anderson’s short arms put him at a disadvantage in bull rushes, making it tough for him to stand someone up and get them off balance.
[41:24] Anderson gets fooled by one of the league’s best TEs. Ertz blocks and engages just long enough for Anderson to think he’s acting primarily as a blocker. Anderson gets past him and realizes his mistake quickly by keeping his eyes on the ball. He turns around to pursue Ertz and manages to tackle him from behind before he gets to the goal line. Anderson gave up the play, but didn’t quit on it, and managed to stop Ertz from scoring. The Redskins would go on to make a goal line stand on this drive, made possible by Anderson’s effort in salvaging this play.
Montez Sweat, Washington Redskins
Shaquan Montez Sweat is long, strong, and blazing fast, filling the Redskins’ need for a speed rusher to play on the right. Some athletes test well at the combine, but their athleticism isn’t visible on tape. That is not the case for Sweat.
His length is evident in how easily he can stack blockers with his punch, hitting them hard in the body and forcing them up while they can’t reach Sweat’s body for a return punch. It is also evident in his tackle radius, as it often looks like he reaches out with tentacles to tackle someone who thought they were already past him. His strength is evident in the way he can hold blockers in place while he diagnoses a play, then throw them aside to get into the backfield. His speed is evident in the plays where he explodes off the line of scrimmage so quickly that he runs past an OT unblocked. It is also evident in his ability to tackle ball carriers from behind.
But there is more to Sweat than his athletic gifts. When I watched him play, I was also struck by his intelligence and effort. He was very good at diagnosing the play and finding the most efficient route to the ball carrier. In addition to that, he never quit on plays, even if the play was breaking away from him. I think that combination of intelligence and effort bodes well for his ability to develop in the NFL.
His ability to develop will be important, because the only real weakness that I saw in him is that he is still very raw in several aspects of his technique. He doesn’t use many counter moves and he doesn’t get low when bending around the edge. I don’t think it’s that he can’t do these things, but simply that he hasn’t needed to in order to succeed in college. It’s difficult to develop a counter when your first move wins most of the time. But that won’t cut it in the NFL, where many of his opponents will be as athletically gifted as he is. Also, Sweat played 4-3 DE in college, so he has no real experience in coverage.
Lastly, it’s worth noting he has a very long, thin body for an edge defender, though he is still deceptively strong, as shown in the clips below. He has a lot of room to fill out his frame and looks to have the kind of body that can add muscle easily. A year or two in an NFL strength and conditioning program could make him truly, scarily strong.
Mississippi State vs Auburn | NCAA 2018 on YouTube
[1:20] Really watch this play. Sweat rushes up to engage the RT, but all the while keeps his eyes on the ball in the backfield. He uses his long arms to hold the RT at bay while he diagnoses the play. It’s a run fake where the fake goes towards him. Sweat isn’t fooled by it, and as soon as he diagnoses the play, he sheds the RT and breaks towards the QB who kept the ball. He doesn’t get there, but he keeps running until the whistle is blown. This shows not only his strength and length in throwing aside a starting RT like a used tissue, but also his intelligence in recognizing the play and hustle getting after the ball even when he has little chance to make a play in time.
[4:25] Sweat explodes so quickly past the Auburn RT (I felt so bad for him this whole game) that the tackle can’t get set and has no leverage to hold him. Sweat does a great job of using his long inside arm to keep the RT at a distance and redirects quickly around the edge to get the sack. This shows not only Sweat’s explosion and speed, but also his quick bend around the edge (even though he didn’t have to bend very low). This was a very typical play for Sweat, who often exploded so quickly past an OT that he went unblocked or poorly blocked into the backfield.
Mississippi State vs Alabama | NCAA 2018 on YouTube
[1:26] Sweat bull rushes Jonah Williams (taken #11 overall in the 2019 draft) and stands him up with his long arms while he diagnoses the play. Then Sweat sheds Williams and runs around him to get near the ball carrier Najee Harris, wrapping Harris up in his long, tentacle-like arms. Not many players could show the length and strength to stack and shed Jonah Williams so easily, nor the tackle radius to grab Najee Harris from so far away.
[5:33] Alabama double teams Sweat to take him out of this play. I wanted to include this as an example because there were many plays where I saw Sweat getting double teamed by an opposing offense or otherwise schematically getting taken out of the play (designed short passes behind him, run plays to the opposite direction, etc). Forcing a double team is a win for the defense because it opens up opportunities elsewhere on the field, and forcing opponents to game plan against you is the mark of an elite player.
Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys
Demarcus Lawrence (along with Ryan Kerrigan) has been one of the most productive edge rushers in the NFC East the last 2 years. I haven’t chosen to show a clip of a Demarcus Lawrence sack in the film study below, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t produced them. Although Lawrence’s early years were somewhat muted due to injury and usage, he really broke out in 2017 with 14.5 credited sacks. He followed up with another 10.5 sacks last year.
I really didn’t know much about Lawrence going into this film analysis other than his production. After watching a lot of Lawrence on film, I think he is another very good, but not quite elite edge rusher who is an interesting contrast to Ryan Kerrigan.
Kerrigan is more explosive and seems to have more power on his initial punch to knock a tackle back and get him off his base, whereas Lawrence has more fluidity to get past an OT around the edge and displays more counters if he doesn’t win on first contact. Lawrence is also very much an effort player who keeps trying to work his way into a play and be disruptive even if he isn’t able to get a sack or tackle. Overall, I think Kerrigan is a better athlete and shows more ability to bully lesser athletes and win on first contact, but Lawrence shows more ability to work past some of the best RTs in the NFL using effort and counters. As a 4-3 DE, Lawrence isn’t asked to play a role in coverage.
Cowboys @ Redskins, Week 7 highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[4:23] This is an obvious passing play as it’s a Hail Mary at the end of the 1st half. It’s clear that the Redskins are essentially having Bibbs help double team Lawrence in order to seal the right side. I wanted to include this as an example of teams double-teaming Lawrence because there were several examples I saw through my film review of teams double-teaming Lawrence in long passing situations or finding other ways to game plan against him, and this is the mark of a great player.
Cowboys vs Eagles, Week 14 highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[4:01] Lawrence is grabbed and held in place by Lane Johnson, completely taken out of the play. I just wanted to include this to show that the best RTs in the NFL are still able to stonewall Lawrence, though few RTs have the length and strength of Lane Johnson.
[7:28] That being said, Lawrence uses a nice spin move here to get past Johnson, although he isn’t quite able to get to Wentz in time to affect the pass. Plays like this show his ability to keep working past an OT if he doesn’t win on first contact.
[9:18] Lawrence isn’t able to get past Johnson, but shows good awareness and effort jumping up to try to block the pass. I saw a lot of effort plays like this one from Lawrence, he never stops trying to be disruptive and make a play on the ball.
Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants
Over the last 2 years, the Giants have completely overhauled their edge rushing unit, trading away established veterans like Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul and replacing them with journeyman veterans and mid-round picks. One of those mid-round picks is Lorenzo Carter, taken in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL draft.
I didn’t know much about Lorenzo Carter before doing this film breakdown. I expected to see a below-average starter struggling to adjust to NFL strength and speed. Instead, I saw a natural starting LOLB who looked more prepared to start than our own Ryan Anderson, taken in the 2nd round in 2017.
Carter was a 5 star HS prospect recruited by Georgia, though he never lived up to those expectations in college, failing to gain more than 5 sacks in a season. It’s not clear why he couldn’t put it together in college; he certainly has the athletic gifts to do so. He tested well at the combine, and has amazing reach with 34” arms (2nd only to Montez Sweat, at 35 3/4”, of the players mentioned in this article).
Carter’s athleticism showed up on tape last year. He has good (not elite) acceleration and very good ability to time the snap and bend around the edge. In addition, his long arms were visible on tape, as he did a great job using that length to keep opposing RTs at a distance, occasionally standing them up to get past them and displaying a rare tackle radius.
The only real problem I saw was lack of play strength. Carter is a very tall, long-limbed player who doesn’t look like he’s filled into his frame just yet. However, a year or two in an NFL strength and conditioning program could do a lot for him.
Giants @ Falcons, Week 7 highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[1:40] Carter does a great job using his long arms to stand up the opposing RT, at one point stiff arming him while working around the edge to eventually pull in Matt Ryan for a sack. This play shows off Carter’s long arms, effort, awareness (keeps his eyes on the ball the whole time), and tackle radius.
[4:30] Carter explodes so quickly off the LoS that the RT can’t get set and gets poor leverage, allowing Carter to bend around the edge and almost get to the QB. Carter shows good timing of the snap and bend in this play, looking like a very natural edge player.
[10:24] The only major weakness I saw in Carter is lack of strength to win with pure power. Carter attempts a bull rush here, but isn’t able to use his length to stand the RT up, and doesn’t have the strength to win with power.
Giants vs Cowboys, Week 17 | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[2:38] Carter does a good job keeping his eyes on the ball and faking outside, only to cut inside, using his long arms to stand up La’el Collins and almost get to the QB, forcing Prescott to get the ball out quickly.
Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles
Derek Barnett didn’t have the best combine, but was known in college for being a hard worker and a technician. Drafted by the Eagles at #14 overall in 2017, Barnett has been a consistent presence on the right side of the Eagles defense for two seasons.
Barnett is a bit of a brawler as an edge player. Ever since college, he has won with active, powerful hands and unrelenting effort. He doesn’t have the quickest feet, but he times the snap well and is often one of the first players past the line of scrimmage as a result. He uses his active hands to keep opposing OTs from gaining purchase on him as he moves in a roughly straight line towards the ball carrier.
He doesn’t have great bend around the edge, nor does he have explosive athletic traits to close the gap quickly and win with speed. If he can’t win with his hand-fighting, he will try to win with persistence, as Barnett will rarely give up on a play.
Eagles vs Colts, Week 3 highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[1:44] Barnett does a good job swiping away the hands of the LT. Although he is double-teamed by the RB and LT, he manages to split them and get past them using his active hands, though he can’t get to the QB in time for a sack.
[9:10] Barnett explodes so quickly past the LT that the LT can’t get set and gets poor leverage, allowing Barnett past for a sack. Barnett shows good timing of the snap to explode quickly after the whistle and good use of his interior hand to pin the LT in place while he bends around the edge.
Eagles @ Titans, Week 4 highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube
Posted by Bill Chula on Monday, 10 June 2019
[8:49] This is what it looks like more often than not when Barnett cannot win with his hands. Barnett is at the top of the screen, rushing against LT Taylor Lewan, who does a good job tying Barnett’s hands up and getting inside him, standing Barnett up and stopping his progress.
[11:50] Unable to win the hand fight, Barnett attempts to spin inside, but it is an undeveloped spin move and he doesn’t get any penetration with it. Barnett shows a willingness to use counters, but is still not very developed in that area of his game.
Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
Brandon Graham is a very similar player to Derek Barnett, or should I say that the other way around given Graham’s time in the league? Graham also wins with strong, active hands and relentless pursuit of the ball carrier. Graham also does not have the most elite athletic traits, but makes up for it with grit and tenacity. Graham also has a history of college production that far exceeds his athletic measurables.
There are some differences between Graham and Barnett, however. Graham is built like a bowling ball, 2” shorter than Barnett, but 9 lbs heavier at the Combine weigh in. Graham also seems a bit more polished in his various pass rush moves (which you’d expect, given his 7 additional years of NFL experience), but doesn’t quite have Barnett’s agility. And, lastly, Graham mostly lines up on the defensive left (opposite the RT), while Barnett mostly lines up on the right (opposite the LT).
Eagles vs Colts, Week 3 highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[1:44] Graham does an excellent job shedding the hands of the RT and redirecting to get pressure on the QB. Graham beats his block through strong, active hands and relentless pursuit forwards.
[4:28] Graham a great job exploding quickly past the RT before he’s set and bending around the edge to get to the QB, although Luck steps up in pocket to avoid him. Graham displays good timing of the snap to get quickly around the edge, even though he doesn’t have the best bend or acceleration to get around the edge.
Eagles vs Cowboys, Week 10 highlights | NFL 2018 on YouTube
[2:10] Graham rushes and stands up Tyron Smith with his bull rush and active hands, then works his way back to be in in the area when Amari Cooper is tackled. Graham shows on this play his constant hustle and desire to be around the ball carrier.
A look at the top of the depth chart for each team
Of course, no position group consists of just one or two players. In a sport that is as physically demanding as football, one in which player injuries are common, the unit depth is as important a factor as the skill of the star players.
Here, we’ll take a look at the top of the depth chart for each team — the pool of players from which the ones on the final 53 seem likely to be chosen. Not all the players listed will make the team, and I might easily miss — especially for the Redskins’ division rivals — players who will make the Week One roster, but this list should give some idea of the relative depth of the four positional groups.
- Brandon Graham
- Derek Barnett
- Vinny Curry
- Josh Sweat
- Shareef Miller
- Lorenzo Carter
- Kareem Martin
- Oshane Ximines
- Markus Golden
- Demarcus Lawrence
- Robert Quinn
- Taco Charlton
- Joe Jackson
- Dorance Armstrong
- Ryan Kerrigan
- Montez Sweat
- Ryan Anderson
- Jordan Brailford
Who is the best edge rusher in the NFC East?
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Which NFC East team has the BEST edge rushing group in the division?
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Which NFC East team has the WEAKEST edge rushing group in the division?
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Which Redskin will lead the team in sacks in 2019?
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