Quinn is the model of consistency for a defense that should rank near the top of the NFL this season. Quinn has recorded three straight double-digit sack seasons and is in line for a fourth this year. He is an absolute monster on the line and he requires a constant double team.
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Defensive tackle: Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals
Campbell is one of those rare tackles that can play the pass just as good as the run. He is an absolute force on the line and has been very consistent during his seven-year career with the Cardinals. Campbell will once again put up the numbers that make him one of the premiere defensive tackles in football.
Defensive tackle: Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams
All Donald did his rookie year was compile nine sacks with 37 total tackles and that was without even starting until Week 6. With a full year of experience under his belt and a defense that didn’t lose anybody and added Nick Fairley, you can expect a monster year out of Donald with double-digit sack totals.
Defensive end: Cliff Avril, Seattle Seahawks
Avril doesn’t get the publicity the other Seahawks defenders get, but all he does is go out and perform. Avril struggled a bit through the first half of last year before really stepping up in the second half. He was a huge part of the Seahawks late season success. He got rewarded for his work with a four-year extension in the offseason, as they believe he will pick up right where he left off last season.
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Outside linebacker: Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Smith has endured a couple of rough seasons that included multiple suspensions because of off the field problems. Smith has had no distractions this offseason and is poised for a huge season in a contract year. Smith is one of the most talented linebackers in the NFL and if he stays out of trouble, there is no reason to believe he will not have another big year for the 49ers.
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Inside linebacker: NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers
Bowman is coming off a season where he did not play a single snap while recovering from a torn ACL. All reports out of 49ers camp is Bowman looks like his old self again. With best friend and teammate Patrick Willis retiring, there will be even more opportunities for Bowman to make plays. Look for Bowman to reclaim his spot as the top linebacker in the NFC West.
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Outside linebacker: Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks
Irvin has had a rough offseason after the Seahawks declined to pick up his fifth-year option. Whether Irvin remains a Seahawk beyond this season is still up in the air, but he has a lot of extra motivation this year to prove some people wrong, as well as set himself up for a big contract next season. Irvin will be a monster at linebacker racking up tackles and sacks this season. When all is said and done, Irvin should be one of the top outside linebackers in the division.
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Cornerback: Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
When it comes to cornerbacks, there is no one better than Richard Sherman. He is the ultimate shut down corner, as most teams will not even challenge him during the course of a game. Sherman has been rehabbing his shoulder this offseason, but looks to be ready to go for training camp. He should once again be a lockdown corner for the best defense in the NFL.
Getty ImagesJonathan Ferrey
Cornerback: E.J. Gaines, St. Louis Rams
Gaines is on the verge of being the next lockdown corner in the NFL. After a stellar rookie campaign that saw him produce two inceptions and lead the NFC West with 15 pass deflections, Gaines is looking to be that lockdown corner the Rams desperately need in 2015. Gaines will only become more familiar with different receivers his second season and should end up being one of the top corners in the NFC West.
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Safety: Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks
Chancellor is one of the hardest hitting, fastest safeties in the league. Last season, Chancellor was playing hurt and was still an elite talent. This season, Chancellor has stated he has never felt better. That could be a scary thought for opponents. Look for Chancellor to have a monster year in Seattle with multiple interceptions and a lot of big hits.
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Safety: Antoine Bethea, San Francisco 49ers
Bethea was the 49ers MVP last season making multiple big plays. Expect even more this season with the absence of a couple of big playmakers. Bethea is one of the more underrated safeties in the division and should be in line for another big year.