How does the Washington Commanders' defense fare against the rest of the NFC East?

Chicago Bears v Washington Commanders
Chicago Bears v Washington Commanders / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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NFC East Defensive Lines

One constant for the Washington Commanders over the last few seasons has been the defensive line. Every preseason, they would be hyped as one of the top units in the NFL. That made sense, too, as they boasted four former first-round picks.

Jonathan Allen, Da'Ron Payne, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young is a terrifying group on paper. However, by the end of the year, they would usually end up being disappointing.

We'll spare you most of the details and just say that Sweat and Young were traded during the 2023 season.

Allen and Payne are still there. Both are top interior rushers and should keep that defensive line strong. The Commanders brought in a few solid veterans this offseason, including Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler Jr., and Clelin Ferrell. They also got an intriguing season from KJ Henry in 2023 and are hoping for contributions from Phidarian Mathis this season.

Washington got a steal in the draft when Jer'Zhan Newton fell to them at pick number 36. Newton is having surgery on his foot, though, so it's unclear when/if he'll contribute in 2024.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't too scary in this area (their dominance comes later). DeMarcus Lawrence is the big name here, and he's far removed from those two monster seasons in 2017 and 2018. Marshawn Kneeland was a great pickup in the draft.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a loaded unit that features Bryce Huff, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Jordan Davis, and Jalen Carter. They also added Jaylx Hunt in the draft. Slightly overrated, Graham is on the decline, Sweat is solid, and Carter is solid. Davis took good steps in 2023 but has a lot to prove. Huff was the star of the show.

The New York Giants were one of the worst rushing defenses in football last season (although the Commanders weren't far behind). They were also near the bottom in sacks (although the Commanders were once again not great). They didn't make any big additions this offseason and lost Leonard Williams last year. Dexter Lawrence is holding it down, though.

The Commanders have a lot of newer blood on the defensive line, but they have a pair of stars and a lot of potential to keep them close to the top of the division.

NFC East defensive line rankings:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. Washington Commanders
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. New York Giants