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Washington Football Team Defensive Projections: Better Than Top-3 In NFL?

The Washington Football Team's defensive unit is expected to be very good to dominant in 2021. Will they be?

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Football Team's ability to make the playoffs and more in 2021 will largely rest on the defense of coordinator Jack Del Rio. 

READ MORE:  Projecting the WFT Offense

As we did for the offense, it's time to analyze the defense through the recently-released ESPN Mike Clay fantasy projections simulations. 

ESPN WFT D

The vaunted defensive line looked like this:

Daron Payne racked up just over 4.5 sacks on 861 snaps, playing more than Jonathan Allen who racked up 4.8 sacks and 59 tackles.

Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle and James Smith-Williams contributed as well, about 700 combined snaps and 4.1 projected sacks for the threesome.

Chase Young and Montez Sweat combined for 17.6 sacks between them with Young playing 926 snaps and Sweat racking up 817.

Here's a bit of a surprise with a loaded unit: Casey Toohill is projected to play 163 snaps and both rookies William Bradley-King and Shaka Toney are forecasted to contribute over the course of the season, too.

Under Clay's projections, first-round pick Jamin Davis playin 817 snaps and racking up 108 tackles along with 2.0 sacks seems like a good rookie season, but when you look at Jon Bostic only playing 654 snaps and Cole Holcomb only projected to play 523, that means either Washington went with only one linebacker a lot (dime?) or something kind of strange happened.

Last year, Bostic played over 1,000 snaps, which is not preferable. (These projections were obviously calculated before Josh Harvey-Clemons was released and Joe Walker was added.)

READ MORE: Josh Harvey-Clemons released, Joe Walker signed

On the back end, Kendall Fuller playing just over 1,000 and William Jackson III playing 980 seems close to being accurate. Ideally Washington would need more interceptions than just five combined between them.

Jimmy Moreland and Benjamin St-Juste are the next two corners in line with Danny Johnson and veteran Darryl Roberts also chipping in.

Again, it seems like the reserves are projected for a very low amount when you consider how much teams are in nickel and sub packages.

One number that just makes zero sense is that Landon Collins is projected to play 980 snaps, the same as Jackson, and ... It's really hard to see that. If Collins makes 109 or more tackles and plays 980-plus snaps ... that would be an enormous surprise.

Newcomer Bobby McCain was paired with Collins as the main starters with Kamren Curl contributing, but not as much as many would think. 

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Troy Apke is expected to play more than Deshazor Everett and rookie Darrick Forrest, which again, would be surprising. Also there's no Jeremy Reaves. 

The defense overall is projected to rank third in the NFL, with strong grades for the defensive line overall and the cornerbacks. That's good, because if this team is going to go where it wants to go, they need a dominant unit.