The 2023 NFL season is rapidly approaching, which means it is once again time for us to unveil our preseason All-Division teams. We've done this exercise for the past several years, and the point is to preview which players at each position, in each division, we expect to put forth the best performance this coming season.
We began last week with the AFC, beginning with the, continuing to the and , and finally finishing up with the . This week, it's on to the NFC. We'll begin on Tuesday with the East and then work our way through the remainder of the conference.
Without further ado ...
Offensive skill positions
There is a reasonable debate to be had regarding which of Hurts and Dak Prescott is the better player, but Hurts is almost surely in better position to succeed this season. He's playing behind the NFL's best offensive line, with a coaching staff that has shown it can mold the system to his skill set, and with an explosive group of weapons that is as good or better than the one in Dallas. Pollard has been one of the NFL's best running backs for years, but the Cowboys wouldn't let him show it often enough. It's wheels up this year with Zeke Elliott no longer in town. Barkley slowed down toward the end of last season and has always been a bit more boom-bust as a runner than is ideal, but he's an excellent pass-catcher and a threat to break a big play every time he touches the ball. With a more pass-focused offense and better pass-catchers to spread the defense, there's hope that he can be more consistent down-to-down on the ground.
Lamb, Brown, and Smith are all arguably top-10 to 12 receivers in the league. If it weren't for the existence of Justin Jefferson, we would be talking about how outrageous the start of Lamb's career has been. The only players in league history to match or exceed Lamb's first-three-year totals in receptions (260), receiving yards (3,396) and receiving touchdowns (20) are Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr., A.J. Green, and Michael Thomas. He's Dak's No. 1 target again this year, and with Brandin Cooks on the other side to actually threaten the defense, he should have even more room to operate. Brown, meanwhile, maintained his spectacular efficiency even in a higher-volume role, and added even more of a vertical element to his game. Smith is as pristine a route-runner as there is in the league, and actually matched Brown's production from Week 2 on last season. They'll be the top two options for Hurts, and they'll command high volume. Goedert gets the nod over Darren Waller due to Waller's age (he turns 31 next week) and accordant injury risk (he's played only 20 of 34 possible games over the past two seasons).
During his rookie season, it looked like Andrews was lost. Luckily for the Giants, he has bounced back with consecutive excellent seasons, and last year was named a Second Team All-Pro. He's headed into the prime of his career and should be one of the game's best left tackles for years. Johnson, meanwhile, has been arguably the best right tackle in the league for quite some time and has shown no signs of slowing down. There's no reason to think he won't be great again this year.
Martin has been in the NFL for nine seasons, and has made both the Pro Bowl and one of the two All-Pro teams in eight of them, with the lone exception being the year he was limited to 10 games due to injury. He is the best guard and arguably best overall offensive lineman in the league. Dickerson has quickly become another very good piece of the best offensive line in the league, slotting in between Kelce (arguably the NFL's best center) and Jordan Mailata and playing excellent football. He made the Pro Bowl last season for the first time, and like Thomas, is headed into his prime. Kelce came back for one more year at age 36, but being that we've seen plenty of centers remain quite productive into their late-30s, he should be just fine.
Parsons is a game-wrecker of the highest order, an impossible puzzle for offensive linemen and coordinators alike to solve. He is the Defensive Player of the Year favorite for his exploits as a pass rusher, but he does so much more than just that. It's hard to believe he's only headed into Year 3. Reddick has become a beast since moving to the edge full time, and has racked up double-digit sacks with three different teams over the past three years. Sticking around in Philadelphia to play on one of the most loaded defensive fronts in football should be good for him. Demarcus Lawrence is one of the most underrated defensive ends in the league because he's not a premier sack artist but instead a complete player who dominates in the run game while using his strength and power to push the pocket and generate pressure that doesn't always result in a sack for himself. He's 31 now and not playing as many snaps as he used to but Dan Quinn is going to put him in the best position possible to succeed.
Dexter Lawrence and Payne each deservingly got paid this offseason, and Lawrence, in particular, seems like he might still have even more pass rush upside after notching a career-high 7.5 sacks last season. It seems almost impossible that a man his size can move the way he does. Payne picked up 11.5 sacks last year, and while that might overstate his productivity slightly, he's been improving as a two-way force for a while and is a terrific piece of a very good defensive front.
The linebacker talent in this division isn't nearly as good as the defensive talent at other positions. Perhaps if Parsons counted as a linebacker, or if Nakobe Dean had more experience, or if Jamin Davis had lived up to his first-round billing, that would be different. But as it stands right now, LVE and Okereke just being dependably solid second-level players makes them the best bet for good seasons this year.
Slay and Diggs each made our list of the, while Bradberry was an honorable mention. They each benefit from having one of the league's premier groups of rushmen forcing quarterbacks into quick decisions, but their coverage skills are top notch nonetheless. Diggs probably has the best ball skills of any corner in the league, and last season he was a lot less boom-bust than during his 11-pick 2021 campaign. Slay's ability to bounce back from a poor first season in Philly has solidified him among the league's elite, and Bradberry keeps playing at a super high level on the outside.
Curl is so underrated. I wish more people knew about how good he is. And Kearse is a tight end eraser who also functionally plays linebacker within the Dallas defense. He's a unique, versatile chess piece who is one of the most important factors in making the Dallas defense what it is.
Elliott has made multiple 50-plus-yard kicks in every year of his career, and he's connected on better than 83.9% of his field goals overall in five of six seasons. He's in his prime and attached to a great offense. Way's punting average has been in decline for a few years but he's also a multi-time Pro Bowler who has led the league in yards per punt twice. Turpin was an All-Pro returner as a rookie and is working on John Fassel's special-teams unit, which is always beneficial for a return man.