Defensive Ends (6) – Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Marcus Smith, Steven Means, Bryan Braman

The first three that are listed have received extensions recently and are getting paid to get after the quarterback. Marcus Smith has flashed at some points in the preseason and will stick due to being a high draft pick.

Means has had a solid camp and preseason while Braman is a special teams star. Jim Schwartz loves to rotate his defensive lineman often, hence the six defensive ends.

Defensive Tackles (4) – Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart

Cox and Logan are arguably the best defensive tackle tandem in the league. Allen (above) makes it on this list but could be traded before the season starts or shortly after that. Hart, if his injury from Saturday is not too serious, rounds out the group.

Outside Linebackers (4) – Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Najee Goode, Quentin Gause

Kendricks and Bradham are locks to start, and Najee Goode gives the coaching staff a reliable veteran who can step right in. Quentin Gause edges out Myke Tavarres.

Middle Linebackers (2) – Jordan Hicks, Stephen Tulloch

Pretty self explanatory as Hicks was already announced as the starter and the veteran Tulloch came in as the backup, and mentor to Hicks.

Cornerbacks (6) – Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe, C.J. Smith

Carroll and McKelvin will handle the starting duties on the outside as long as they are healthy and efficient. Brooks looks to have the nickel corner spot wrapped up.

Mills, a seventh-round pick from LSU, looks to be the first guy in behind those three with Rowe and Smith in support. JaCorey Shephard could force his way onto the team with a solid showing in the final preseason game.

Safeties (4) – Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod Jr., Jaylen Watkins, Chris Maragos

There aren’t too many starting spots open throughout the defense, especially at safety. Jenkins and McLeod lock up the starting rolls while Jaylen Watkins sits at third on the depth chart. Maragos will look to maximize his opportunities on special teams.

Here is a list of potential practice squad players for the defense:

DE Jake Metz

DT Destiny Vaeao

DT Aziz Shittu

OLB Myke Tavarres

MLB Don Cherry

CB JaCorey Shephard

S Blake Countess

Look for four or five of these guys to make it to the practice squad.

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