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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

  1. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City Chiefs (UPDATE: Signed with the San Francisco 49ers)
  2. Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints
  3. Chris Canty, New York Giants (UPDATE: Signed with the Baltimore Ravens)
  4. Sione Pouha, New York Jets
  5. Alan Branch, Seattle Seahawks
    1. Terrance Knighton, Jacksonville Jaguars (UPDATE: Has signed with the Denver Broncos)
    2. Sammie Lee Hill, Detroit Lions (UPDATE: Has agreed to deal with the Tennessee Titans)
    3. 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.

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

  1. Roy Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  2. Ricky Jean-Francois, San Francisco 49ers (UPDATE: Signed with the Indianapolis Colts)
  3. Vance Walker, Atlanta Falcons
  4. Corey Williams, Detroit Lions
  5. Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. Aubrayo Franklin, San Diego Chargers
  7. Spencer Johnson, Buffalo Bills
  8. Antonio Garay, San Diego Chargers
  9. Mike Patterson, Philadelphia Eagles
  10. Dwan Edwards, Carolina Panthers
  11. Kedric Golston, Washington Redskins (UPDATE: Re-signed with the Washington Redskins)
  12. Pat Sims, Cincinnati Bengals
  13. Vaughn Martin, San Diego Chargers
  14. Shaun Cody, Houston Texans
  15. Derek Landri, Philadelphia Eagles
  16. Tony McDaniel, Miami Dolphins
  17. Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Baltimore Ravens
  18. 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

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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