Around the League  

 

Free agency primer: Ranking the interior D-linemen

Around the League's positional free-agent previews are ranked according to the players we would want -- not the players who will make the most money. On Thursday, we took a look at the top pass rushers. Our series continues with available defensive tackles and "five-technique" (3-4 alignment) defensive ends. We listed each player with the team they played for in 2012. Here goes:

Starters with questions


1. Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders
2. Desmond Bryant, Oakland Raiders (UPDATE: Agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns)
3. Jason Jones, Seattle Seahawks (UPDATE: Agreed to terms with the Detroit Lions)
4. Mike DeVito, New York Jets (UPDATE: Agreed to terms with the Kansas City Chiefs)

Notes: I struggle to rank Seymour at No. 3. He's months away from turning 34, but Seymour was arguably a top-15 interior lineman before missing the second half of the season with a hamstring injury. He had missed only four games since 2007 prior to the injury, but the Raiders aren't about to re-sign him (despite the fact he'll count $14 million against the cap). Oakland is also prepared to lose Bryant, who -- despite his DUI arrest earlier this month -- is an attractive player at age 27. ... At 6-foot-6, 311-pounds, Bryant graded well against the run and pass last season. He might bloom in the right situation.

Jones was an interesting rotational player for the Seahawks last season, but notched just three sacks and might be more of situational run-stopper. ... DeVito played under the radar in New York. Solid against the run, he gets my No. 6 ranking. Despite the Jets attempting to supplant him with younger players in 2012, the team wound up leaning on DeVito through 15 starts.

Effective in the right role


5. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City Chiefs (UPDATE: Signed with the San Francisco 49ers)
6. Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints
7. Chris Canty, New York Giants (UPDATE: Signed with the Baltimore Ravens)
8. Sione Pouha, New York Jets
9. Alan Branch, Seattle Seahawks
10. Terrance Knighton, Jacksonville Jaguars (UPDATE: Has signed with the Denver Broncos)
11. Sammie Lee Hill, Detroit Lions (UPDATE: Has agreed to deal with the Tennessee Titans)
12. Isaac Sopoaga, San Francisco 49ers (UPDATE: Has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles)

Notes: This group comes equipped with issues. With just half a sack in his past 31 starts, Ellis has failed to live up to his status as the seventh overall pick in 2008.


With the offseason officially under way, Around the League will examine what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | Niners | Rams | Seahawks

Branch's performance last season didn't equal his handiwork from 2011. A short-term deal from Seattle might be in the cards. ... Knighton sneaks up to No. 12 because he's a big (6-foot-3, 330-pound) run-stopper, but only when he feels like it. ... Hill's an intriguing player stuck behind Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. He started only two games, but Pro Football Focus graded him positively as a pass rusher after he chalked up 17 quarterback hurries.

Rotational/situational players


13. Roy Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14. Ricky Jean-Francois, San Francisco 49ers (UPDATE: Signed with the Indianapolis Colts)
15. Vance Walker, Atlanta Falcons
16. Corey Williams, Detroit Lions
17. Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers
18. Aubrayo Franklin, San Diego Chargers
19. Spencer Johnson, Buffalo Bills
20. Antonio Garay, San Diego Chargers
21. Mike Patterson, Philadelphia Eagles
22. Dwan Edwards, Carolina Panthers
23. Kedric Golston, Washington Redskins (UPDATE: Re-signed with the Washington Redskins)
24. Pat Sims, Cincinnati Bengals
25. Vaughn Martin, San Diego Chargers
26. Shaun Cody, Houston Texans
27. Derek Landri, Philadelphia Eagles
28. Tony McDaniel, Miami Dolphins
29. Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Baltimore Ravens
30. Kevin Vickerson, Denver Broncos

Notes: Miller's limited to the 4-3. The Bucs plan to let him test the market after his uneven play was masked in Tampa's top-ranked run defense. ... Jean-Francois has become a hot name in free agency, with the Packers among the teams showing interest. ... Williams, 32, has just six sacks since 2009 and lost snaps to Fairley last season. ... Hampton won't make most lists. He turns 36 in September and the Steelers are set to move on, but I expect someone to bring this mountain of a man into camp. ... Patterson was cut free by the Eagles, but his "Wide-9" experience might be a fit for Jim Schwartz in Detroit.

Position Overview

Henry Melton and Randy Starks were both hit with the franchise tag, but teams looking for depth and situational players have options here. A player like Seymour is on the wrong side of 30, but he's more of a known quantity than many of the younger free agents. Teams flipping from the 4-3 to 3-4 will look at Dorsey, but he's extremely inconsistent. Bryant and Jones are role players who might ascend in the right situation.

Unofficial list of free agents
Check out this unofficial list of the 2013 NFL restricted and unrestricted free agents, which includes Greg Jennings. More ...

The grand prize at tackle is a player who creates problems against the run and pass together. That's in short supply with this group, meaning teams might mine the draft -- rich with defensive lineman -- for the next big thing.

Teams with a need


Arizona Cardinals: There's not much at end behind Calais Campbell in Arizona's attacking 3-4 defense.
Baltimore Ravens: The defending Super Bowl champions could use help at nose tackle after Haloti Ngata played through injuries and Terrence Cody was often inconsistent.
Carolina Panthers: This defense eternally has issues up the middle and could use an upgrade over Dwan Edwards.
Chicago Bears: Melton will be back, but the Bears could use bodies inside. Stephen Paea is still developing.
Cleveland Browns: After switching to the 4-3 in 2011, the Browns are flipping back to the 3-4. Coordinator Ray Horton has talked about fitting the scheme to his players, but a 3-4 end (or two) is a must.
Denver Broncos: Kevin Vickerson and Justin Banner are both 30-plus and Jack Del Rio could use help inside.
Green Bay Packers: Coach Mike McCarthy defended his team's toughness this week, but it's been a while since this three-man front frightened anyone.
Kansas City Chiefs: Despite drafting Dontari Poe, the Chiefs still need to put more inside pressure on the quarterback.
Minnesota Vikings: Kevin Williams turns roughly 83 years old next season and Letroy Guion was uneven at nose tackle in 2012.
New Orleans Saints: Switching to the 3-4 puts the Saints on the prowl for scheme-fitting linemen who can make Rob Ryan's defense sing.
New York Giants: Justin Tuck had a down year and Osi Umenyiora and Canty are on the outs.
New York Jets: Rex Ryan seeks help up front with 34-year-old Sione Pouha on the downswing.
Oakland Raiders: With Seymour and Bryant hitting the open market, the cupboard is bare in Oakland.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Hampton has likely played his last game in the Black and Gold.
Seattle Seahawks: One of the league's most imposing secondaries could use more pressure up front.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15