All-NFC East: Outside linebackers

All-NFC East: Outside linebackers
June 9, 2014, 12:30 pm
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Who is the best OLB in the NFC East?
Brian Orakpo, Redskins
50%
Connor Barwin, Eagles
1%
Trent Cole, Eagles
7%
Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins
43%

If you could build an All-NFC East team for 2014, which players would you choose? Over the next few weeks, we’ll discuss the candidates and break it down, position by position.

Today we’re debating outside linebackers. (As I explained in our defensive line discussion, the CSNWashington.com staff has decided to run a 3-4 scheme). Anyway, here are our candidates:

Brian Orakpo, Redskins

Why choose him?

Orakpo is healthy and motivated to prove he deserves a lucrative, long-term contract. He also stands to benefit from having a pass rush coach, Brian Baker, on staff and from scheme tweaks designed to allow him to get after the quarterback more often this season. The 27-year-old has 39.5 sacks in 64 career games. 

 Connor Barwin, Eagles

Why choose him?

A well-rounded OLB who can cover, stop the run and rush the passer. Barwin, 27, registered five sacks while rushing the passer only 58-pecent of the time last season. Word out of Philly, though, is that he could see more time as the “predator” in the Eagles’ defense this season.

Trent Cole, Eagles

Why choose him?

Although he’s due to turn 32 in October, Cole showed he still can get the job done last season, registering eight sacks and forced three fumbles. Unlike Barwin, Cole spent the majority of his snaps pursuing the quarterback. PFF ranked Cole as the seventh most effective 3-4 outside linebacker in the game in 2013.

Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins

Why choose him?

Like ‘Rak, Kerrigan figures to benefit from working with Baker and scheme tweaks designed to give the OLBs more pass rush opportunities. In addition to matching his career-high for sacks (8.5) in 2013, the 25-year-old led the Redskins with 40 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Two more numbers that jump out: 10 forced fumbles and two INTs returned for touchdowns in 48 career games. 

El-Bashir’s picks: At the risk of being called a homer, I’m going with Orakpo and Kerrigan. If they can stay healthy, this could be a big year for the duo.

Your picks: Let us know whom you would choose as your All-NFC East outside linebackers in the comment section. If you feel we have forgotten someone, we will consider write-in candidates.

Tomorrow: Wide receivers.