Now we hit my favorite unit in the NFL, Defensive Line.. the most important spot other than QB on an NFL team. Without a stout d-line you can have fun sitting at the bottom of the standings. So simply put, if you’re ain’t on here, I hope the rest of your defense is nasty.. otherwise have fun waiting for next years draft.
Honorable mention: Bengals, Buccaneers, Panthers.
10) New England Patriots
Projected Starters (4-3): Kony Ealy, Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown, Trey Flowers.
Nobody here jumps out as a superstar, but as a unit this is one of the most efficient the NFL has to offer.
9) LA Chargers
Projected Starters (3-4): Joey Bosa, Brandon Mebane, Corey Liuget.
Mebane comes over from Seattle to be the plug between two super athletes that could be playing LB if they wanted, in Liuget and reigning rookie of the year Joey Bosa.
8) Houston Texans
Projected Starters (3-4): JJ Watt, Carlos Watkins, Jadeveon Clowney.
Now, this unit could easily end the season #1.. but Watt will need to prove he’s healthy, and Clowney will need to prove he can play great football consistently.
7) Buffalo Bills
Projected Starters (4-3): Shaq Lawson, Marcell Darius, Kyle Williams, Jerry Hughes.
This group will reach an elite level if Lawson (who missed his whole rookie season) can play like the first round pick he was.. as well as if Hughes/Darius start playing up to their mammoth contracts.
6) Miami Dolphins
Projected Starters (4-3): Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Phillips, Charles Harris.
Talent wise this unit is juiced. Let’s see if Wake can keep holding off father time, if the rookie Harris can play, and if Suh can go a year without trying to kill someone on the field.
5) Seattle Seahawks
Projected Startes (4-3): Michael Bennett, Malik McDowell, Ahtyba Rubin, Cliff Avril.
The ends are solidified with superstars, and McDowell could be the steal of the draft if Seattle can unlock his potential. McDowell, Rubin and second year man Jarran Reed will duke it out for the two tackle spots in what should be one of the NFL’s top camp battles.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars
Projected Starters (4-3): Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Sheldon Day, Dante Fowler Jr.
The big battle down in Duval county will be former #3 pick Dante Fowler Jr vs last years rookie phenom Yannick Ngakoue. Jackson had a stellar season last year, and the addition of Campbell truly makes this a special unit.
3) LA Rams
Projected Starters (4-3): Robert Quinn, Dominique Easily, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers.
What’ll be interesting here will be who plays on the line and who plays LB between Connor Barwin and Quinn. A healthy Easily would be massive for this team but can’t be counted on.. so why are they so high with a question mark at one end, a very good player in Brockers at the other end, and an injury prone DT? Hmmm… Oh yeah! Cause Donald is the best player in the NFL.
2) New York Giants
Projected Starters (4-3): Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Olivier Vernon.
When you’ve got a guy nicknamed nickname is snacks, you’re instantly top 5. But in all seriousness ‘snacks’ Harrison is an elite plug, put in two elite ends, and that equals an elite unit.
Projected Starters (4-3): Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd*, Danielle Hunter.
If we were talking about the Pats the * would mean something totally different.. but in Floyd’s case it’s that he’s a super talent, but his season and career are currently up in the air due to nerve damage in his knee. If he’s able to play, he’ll line up next to the NFL’s best plug in Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen who’s arguably the most underrated pass rusher in the NFL, and Danielle Hunter, a man who recorded 12.5 sacks in his second season last year.. as a backup… The top defensive line heading into the 2017 NFL season belongs to the Minnesota Vikings.