Top-5 Defenses in the NFL Entering 2022
After this wild off-season, and most rosters now being close to finalized for training camp. I will be going over the top-5 defenses in the NFL entering the 2022 season.
5. Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packer’s defense turned heads in 2021, finishing in the top ten in yards allowed despite missing both Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith. Although Smith left in free agency they will get Alexander back next season and took two defensive players from Georgia in the draft, Devonte Wyatt and Quay Walker.
When Jaire Alexander is healthy the Packers have the best CB trio in the NFL by a wide margin. The other members of that trio Rasul Douglas and Eric Stokes broke out last season and proved themselves as top-tier corners. In Jaire Alexander’s last healthy season he allowed just a 68.3 passer rating when targeted. Stokes allowed a 78.8 passer rating on 96 targets as a rookie and Douglas allowed just a 50.8% reception rate last season.
Jaire Alexander postseason stats:
🔒 7 targets
🔒 2 catches
🔒 16 yards
🔒 2 INTs
🔒 Passer Rating: 0.0
CB1 😤 ❌ ✈️ pic.twitter.com/0WxjwfvZdU
— PFF (@PFF) January 26, 2021
They also have a very solid safety tandem in Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage. They filled their longstanding weakness at linebacker last season with De’Vondre Campbell who was an All-Pro last season and earned a five-year $50 million contract extension. On top of all that, they have a dangerous pass-rushing unit that features, Rashan Gary (81 pressures), Preston Smith (62 pressures), and Kenny Clark (64 pressures).
4. New Orleans Saints
The Saints are host to one of the best secondaries in the league. Led by star cornerback Marshon Lattimore who has been to four Pro-Bowls in his five seasons in the NFL. They also have standout corners Paulson Adebo and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. They lost deep safety Marcus Williams in the off-season but replaced him with Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu which I think is an upgrade. Last season this secondary allowed the fourth-lowest average QB rating (81.7)
Marshon Lattimore = ELITE
— Boot Krewe Media (@BootKreweMedia) January 11, 2022
The Saints are even better on the ground, they have a dominant front seven and allowed the lowest yards per carry last season (3.7). The pass-rushing duo of Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport is lethal and David Onyemata is fantastic in the middle. Cam Jordan has made the Pro-Bowl in five consecutive seasons and had 12.5 sacks and 13 TFLs last season. Demario Davis is one of the smartest linebackers in football and has made three straight All-Pro teams. In 2022 look for Pete Werner and Zack Baun to have breakout seasons at linebacker.
3. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have the most stacked defensive line in the league. Nick Bosa is already one of the best players in football and had 15.5 sacks and 21 TFLs last season. They also have a depth chart consisting of Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, Javon Kinlaw, and Kerry Hyder Jr. In three playoff games last season the 49er’s defense had 12 sacks and were allowing an 85.8 QB rating and 15.6 points per game.
Next season this 49ers defense will get former Pro Bowler, Jason Verrett, back who tore his ACL in week 1 last season. They also signed CB Charvarius Ward who allowed a 77.0 QB rating when targeted last season. In 2021 the 49ers ranked top seven in both passing and rushing defense allowed and ranked third in total. The main reason for that is All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner who had 137 tackles last season. The only question I have for the Niner’s defense is the lack of depth in the secondary, they are outstanding in all other areas
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The name of the game with the Bucs is continuity and consistency. Last season Tampa Bay brought back every single defensive starter and finished in the top ten of nearly every defensive metric. This season they are only losing safety Jordan Whitehead, but he is being replaced by Keanu Neal and Logan Ryan. Joe Tryon’s development will be vital for the Bucs this season as in his rookie year he had four sacks while playing less than half the team’s snaps.
Pass rush win rate at edge, 2021
Jason Pierre-Paul: 13.3%
Joe Tryon-Shoyinka: 26.5%
(ESPN / NFL Next Gen Stats)
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 14, 2021
This is one of the best run-defending units in the league and 346-pound DT Vita Vea is the anchor behind that. They also now have one of the best defensive lines in football with guys such as Vita Vea, Joe Tryon, Shaquill Barret, Akiem Hicks, William Gholston, and Logan Hall. Additionally, they have Devin White and Lavonte David at linebacker who have a combined four All-Pro seasons.
1. Buffalo Bills
The Bills already boasted arguably the best defense last season. Leading the NFL in almost every defensive statistical category. They allowed the least points per game, yards per play, yards per game and led the league in DVOA and FPI. Now add All-Pro edge rusher Von Miller and first-round cornerback Kaiir Elam this defense should be improved from last season when it was already ranked number one.
The addition of an elite edge rusher like Von Miller puts this defense in a separate tier from the rest of the pack and up there with some of the best defenses in history. Miller has 115.5 career sacks and had four sacks and six TFLs in last year’s playoffs for the Los Angeles Rams. Additionally, they signed Tim Settle, DaQuan Jones, and Jordan Phillips on the defensive line.
Von Miller has been adding to his incredible career this season. Here are where these stats rank among all edge defenders since 2011:
🔹 93.9 Pass Rush Grade (1st)
🔹 117 sacks (1st)
🔹 699 pressures (1st)
The future Hall-of-Famer is not done yet 😤 pic.twitter.com/AFjJ6S4ZxA
— PFF DEN Broncos (@PFF_Broncos) October 13, 2021
The Bills have one of the best secondaries in the league, which is highlighted by their dynamic safety duo of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Last season Poyer made the All-Pro first team and Hyde made the second. They also have one of the best young cornerbacks in the league in Tre’Davious White, who has already made two All-Pro teams in his career. The Bills have top-level talent and good depth in all three phases of defense and that is why they have the best defense entering the 2022 NFL season.