If you could build an All-NFC East team for 2014, which players would you chose? Over the next few weeks, we’ll discuss the candidates and break it down, position by position.
Today we’re debating inside linebackers. Here are our candidates:
(Note: Cowboys’ star Sean Lee was removed from consideration due to the season-ending knee injury he suffered in OTAs last week.)
Jon Beason, Giants
Why choose him? After being dealt to the New York from Carolina in Week 5, Beason became a major factor in the Giants’ midseason turnaround. He instantly assumed a leadership role, getting players to arrive early for players-only film session. The 29-year-old also produced on the field, racking up 93 tackles and one interception in 12 games.
Mychal Kendricks, Eagles
Why choose him? Recorded 106 tackles, four sacks, a league-best four fumble recoveries and an INT. Plays side-to-sideline and took 1,022 snaps, the 16th most among ILBs. Also has a great mentor in DeMeco Ryans and should continue on his upward trajectory.
Perry Riley, Redskins
Why choose him? Although the 26-year-old seemed to take a small step backward last season, it should be noted that he was not alone. Many players did not perform up to expectations in Washington during a distraction-riddled year that resulted in just three wins. But he’s got a new contract and a new opportunity to prove that he hasn’t reached his ceiling.
DeMeco Ryans, Eagles
Why choose him? The unquestioned leader of an Eagles’ defense that allowed 22 or fewer points in 11 of the final 12 games in ’13. Also played 1,157 snaps, the most among all defensive players in the NFL last season, and recorded 127 tackles, four sacks and two INTs. And, at 29, Ryans in showing no signs of slowing down.
El-Bashir’s pick: With Lee out of the equation (he would be a no-brainer at this position) I’m going to go with Kendricks for his athleticism, youth and upside and Ryans for his leadership and production. (Dallas' Bruce Carter received some consideration for this list but I just couldn't justify picking a player who was benched for lack of effort in '13).
Your pick: Let us know whom you would choose as your All-NFC East inside linebackers in the poll and defend your pick in the comments. If we forgot someone, we’ll accept write-in candidates.
Tomorrow: We’ll make our picks for All-NFC East offensive tackles.