The Rams have struck gold once again. The reigning Super Bowl champions signed another all-pro Thursday afternoon, this time getting middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Wagner was the backbone of a Seattle Seahawks defense for almost a decade, and is now headed to his former divisional rival.
With a core of Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and Wagner, it is tough to imagine there is a better defensive trio in the NFL than what the Rams have. But are they the best overall defense now? This article reveals my projection on what the top five defenses in the NFL are.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Since the Buccaneers have Tom Brady, this defense will never get the media attention it deserves, but Tampa Bay’s unit is loaded with talent on all three levels.
Tampa ranked in the top five in rush defense in the last four seasons, largely due to the talent they have in the front seven. Vita Vea is the league’s best nose tackle, and the linebacker duo of Devin White and Lavonte David have the ability to make plays all across the field.
The Buccaneers Super Bowl win against the Chiefs can be mainly credited to the play of the defense that day. Patrick Mahomes had the worst game of his career, throwing two interceptions and zero touchdowns against a team that was cliquing on all cylinders. With Tom Brady back, this team can once again compete for a ring.
No team got hit harder by the injury bug a year ago than the Baltimore Ravens. Defensively, the team lost its top three starting cornerbacks and starting safeties to injury, which opposing teams exposed on a regular basis.
However, if the team remains healthy, it has all the potential to be a top-tier defense statistically. If the return of Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters was not enough to rebuild the secondary, the signing of Marcus Williams gives the Ravens a stellar safety who can tackle and play coverage.
Brandon Williams and Patrick Queen headline a front seven that ranked first in rushing yards allowed per game last season. With that type of run defense and a healthy secondary, the Ravens have a chance to be the number one ranked defense in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints
It is unfortunate that New Orleans was unable to fix their offense last season because their defense played at an incredibly high level. They were in the top five to ten in every major defensive category, and have enough talent to match up against any NFL offense.
Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport dominated opposing linemen all season, combining for 21.5 sacks in 2021. Linebacker Demario Davis is the team’s captain and a disruptive playmaker.
In the back end, Marshon Lattimore and CJ Gardner-Johnson provide great play and ruthless smack talk, and are often able to get under the receiver’s skin. While they lost star safeties Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins, the team seems to be in position of locking up “the Honey Badger” Tyran Matheiu.
New Orleans look to return to the playoffs this upcoming year, and will need to rely on their defensive unit to do so.
Los Angeles Rams
Despite losing Von Miller in free agency, the Los Angeles Rams have somehow upgraded their linebacker group with the signing of 8x All-Pro Bobby Wagner. Wagner is one of the best leaders and high-IQ defenders in the entire league, and is a nightmare for teams to game plan against.
Los Angeles’ pass rush recorded the most sacks in Super Bowl history in their win, and it will remain elite with Leonard Floyd and Aaron Donald. I expect them to draft a replacement where Miller used to line up.
In the secondary, Jalen Ramsey continues to lockdown whoever he lines up against. Unfortunately, There is no clear second cornerback following the departure of Darious Williams. I understand these are small critiques on a relatively flawless defense, but these couple small weaknesses are all that separate one and two.
While the Rams have more starpower on their defense, Buffalo has the most well-rounded unit in the NFL, elite in all facets of the game. In 2021, the Bills were first in yards and points allowed per game. Their biggest strength is in the defensive secondary, which includes the best safety tandem in the NFL with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde.
Up front, Buffalo has plenty of young, talented players. Ed Oliver and Greg Rousseau were Buffalo’s best defensive linemen, and both are younger than 25. At linebacker, Tremaine Edmunds already established himself as a phenomenal leader at 23 years old.
This offseason, the team signed 2x Super Bowl champion Von Miller to a six year deal, and will also be getting former all-pro Tre’Davious White back from injury. As good as Buffalo’s defense was a year ago, it has the potential to improve more in 2022.
If you want to read about the best landing sports for the remaining free agents, check out this article.
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