2021 DEFENSIVE LINE RANKINGS
Minicamps and OTAs are wrapping up across the league and it’s time for teams to audit their rosters based on these early impressions. We’re going to do the same. Over the next few weeks, we are going to review and rank the different position groups for the Giants, Jets, and Eagles followed by an ultimate power ranking going into training camp. This deep dive into the position groups is designed to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each team to help predict which prop bets may be smart picks for this upcoming season.
We will start with one of the most impactful groups on the team, the defensive line. Pass rush, run stuffing, and depth will all be factors in ranking the rosters. Interior defensive linemen are the strengths of all three teams. Let’s dive in to see how they stack up.
Philadelphia Eagles (#1)
Key Players: Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham, Ryan Kerrigan, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Milton Williams
Philadelphia gets the top spot here because of the two-headed attack they have on the interior and the impressive depth in the defensive line rotation. Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave are possibly the most dangerous (and most expensive) pair of defensive tackles in the NFL. It’s nearly impossible to double-team both of them and whoever is left 1-on-1 has a very good chance of winning their matchups. Additionally, their defensive end rotation is five players deep and most of those players can move inside on pass-rush downs.
New York Giants (#2)
Key Players: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Azeez Ojulari, Ifeadi Odeneigbo, Austin Johnson, Ryan Anderson, Danny Shelton, BJ Hill
The Giants’ defensive line received leaguewide accolades and was the foundation of the Giants’ improved defense last season. The return of Leonard Williams is a great sign, but also a huge question because his only impressive season came last year when he was looking for a new contract. Rookie Azeez Ojulari and free agent acquisition Ifeadi Odeneigbo will bolster a pass-rush that left a lot to be desired in 2020. Ojulari could be a Defensive Rookie of the year candidate this season.
New York Jets (#3)
Key Players: Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson, Sheldon Rankins, Kyle Phillips, Vinny Curry, John Franklin-Meyers, Folorunso Fatukasi, Jonathan Marshall
The Jets are at the bottom of this list but certainly not the bottom of the league. Quinnen Williams is already one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL and he is only expected to get better. The main issue is the surrounding cast. The addition of Carl Lawson should help the pass-rush improve, but there isn’t much to be excited about beyond those two. Sheldon Rankins and Vinny Curry are past their primes and the others are replacement-level players or young ones in need of development.