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2018 NFC West Pre-Season Position Rankings: Defense

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Ranking the defenses in the NFC West.

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I appreciated and agreed with many of your comments about the offensive rankings. While I believe that RB David Johnson is as talented as any RB in the NFL, it was difficult to rank him ahead of RB Todd Gurley who had over 2,000 yards combined (rushing and receiving and 19 TDs in 2017---the kind of season Cardinals’ fans were hoping to get from David Johnson.

A few of you were arguing that G D.J. Fluker (SEA) should be rated higher than G Jonathan Cooper (SF), and while I agree that Fluker might be more physcially talented, Fluker’s 2017 PFF grade was 42.3, while Cooper’s was 67.0.

You might be interested to know the 2017 PFF grades of the QBs: 1---Russell Wilson (87.2); 2---Jimmy Garoppolo (85.2); 3---Jared Goff (81.2); 4---Sam Bradford (68.9). Of course, only Wilson and Goff played in every game.

Thus, in ranking the defensive players by position, in order to take the subjectivity out of the equation, today I am doing so by the 2017 PFF grades----obviously 2018 is a brand new season and some of these rankings may not be accurate projections. As you can see---there is a glut of defensive talent in the NFC West.

DE:

1---Chandler Jones (ARI)---87.3
2---Frank Clark (SEA)---81.2
3---Matt Longacre (LAR)---73.9
4---Solomon Thomas (SF)---53.2

DT:

1---Aaron Donald (LAR)---99.7
2---Corey Peters (ARI)---80.6
3---Jarran Reed (SEA)---77.9
4---Earl Mitchell (SF)---56.8

DT:

1---Ndamukong Suh (LAR)---90.9
2---DeForest Buckner (SF)---90.4
3---Nazair Jones (SEA)---75.5
4---Robert Nkemdiche (ARI)---73.8

DE:

1---Dion Jordan (SEA)---83.6
2---Arik Armstead (SF)---78.9
3---Samson Ebukam (LAR)---70.0
4---Markus Golden (ARI)---48.2

OLB:

1---K.J. Wright (SEA)---82.2
2---Bryce Hager (LAR)---71.4
3---Deone Bucannon (ARI)---48.2
4---Malcolm Smith (SF)---N/A

MLB:

1---Bobby Wagner (SEA)---96.7
2---Josh Bynes (ARI)---76.2
3---Mark Barron (LAR)---71.2
4---Brock Coyle (SF)---41.3

OLB:

1---Reuben Foster (SF)---90.7
2---Barkevious Mingo (SEA)---72.8
3---Haason Reddick (ARI)---47.6
4---Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (LAR)---N/A

CB1:

1---Marcus Peters (LAR)---85.7
2---Richard Sherman (SF)---82.7
3---Patrick Peterson (ARI)---79.6
4---Shaquill Griffin (SEA)---77.2

CB2:

1---Aqib Talib (LAR)---86.2
2---Byron Maxwell (SEA)---84.0
3---Ahkello Witherspoon (SF)---81.1
4---Jamar Taylor (ARI)---74.0

SS:

1---John Johnson (LAR)---85.9
2---Jaquiski Tartt (SF)---85.7
3---Budda Baker (ARI)---84.5
4---Bradley McDougald (SEA)---77.3

FS:

1---Lamarcus Joyner (LAR)---90.3
2---Earl Thomas (SEA)---87.6
3---Antoine Bethea (ARI)---86.7
4---Jimmie Ward (SF)---46.9

P: (Per 2017 Net Average)

1---Johnny Hekker (LAR)---44.3 net (47.9 ave.)
2---Bradley Pinion (SF)---41.3 net (43.9 ave.)
3---Andy Lee (ARI)---39.7 net (47.3 ave.)
4---Jon Ryan (SEA)---38.8 net (45.0 ave.)

Team Averages:

1---LAR: 1.83
2---SEA---2.63
3---SF---2.83
4---ARI---2.92

Analysis: The defenses in the NFL West all have tremendous potential in 2018. The Rams are loaded up front and on the back end---but they seem vulnerable at linebacker. The Seahawks are loaded at linebacker and very good on the back end, but seem a little vulnerable up front. The 49ers have very good talent up front and a solid secondary, but their linebacker situation is iffy, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding Reuben Foster. The Cardinals look strong up front and in the secondary, but there are question marks at linebacker and nickel personnel.