Gregg Rosenthal

Offseason Low Down

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FA in a Nutshell: Defense

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Hide your mediocre defensive linemen; free agency is right around the corner! We recapped the offensive positions earlier in the week. Our summary of the best defensive players available is below.

Top Five Defensive Linemen

1. Justin Smith, Bengals DE: Lightweight end with a high motor can track down running backs. He's an average starter that will be paid like a superstar.

2. Chris Canty, Cowboys DE (Restricted): Dallas should retain Canty with a first-round tender.

3. Jevon Kearse, Eagles DE: He's not a free agent yet, but will be soon. Kearse has huge injury concerns, but will be a good risk/reward pickup at a reduced price.

4. Antwan Odom, Titans DE: Ah, glorious upside. Someone will overpay this 26-year old after a career high 8 sacks, but will he look as good away from Albert Haynesworth?

5. Tommy Kelly, Raiders DE: He's coming off an injury, but 3-4 teams may view him as a value pickup.

Sleepers

Marques Douglas, 49ers: He's not getting any younger, but Douglas can be a productive rotation member in any system.

Randy Starks, Titans DT: There are off-field concerns, but Starks has shown flashes of talent as a pro.

Buyer Beware

Simeon Rice, Colts DE: His mouth moves faster than his feet at this point.

Travis LaBoy, Titans DE: Injuries and mediocre play limit his attractiveness.

Top Five Linebackers

1. Lance Briggs, Bears: Once thought to be the product of Chicago's system, Briggs has emerged from Brian Urlacher's shadow. We'll guess that Washington will make him the highest paid 'backer in football.

2. Michael Boley, Falcons (Restricted): Versatile pro made big plays and recorded over 100 tackles despite playing on the strong side in '08. The Falcons should do what's necessary to keep him.

3. Calvin Pace, Cardinals DE/OLB: He could play with his hand down in a 4-3, but he shined as a 3-4 OLB in 2007. He's a solid starter.

4. Rosevelt Colvin, Patriots OLB: New England wouldn't have released him if not for a huge salary. Colvin is coming off foot surgery, but can still rush the passer.

5. Kawika Mitchell, Giants OLB: A disappointment in Kansas City, he was a underrated lynchpin to the Giants defense.

Sleepers

Landon Johnson, Bengals: The Bengals most consistent linebacker, Johnson can play every position well enough.

DeMorrio Williams, Falcons: He can't take on blockers, but the lightweight tackle machine had a huge 2005 season.

Buyer Beware

Dan Morgan, Panthers: He's one concussion away from his career being over.

  • Click here for player movement predictions and more front seven profiles.

    Top Five Defensive Backs

    1. Asante Samuel, Patriots CB:Foxborough favorites often lose their shine away from New England, and that could happen to this gambling cornerback. He's closer to a borderline Pro Bowler than a top-five cornerback.

    2. Gibril Wilson, Giants S: New York's best player in the secondary for years, Wilson is a tackling machine with some versatility.

    3. Madieu Williams, Bengals FS: One of the few free safeties in the league that can truly cover. That skill is growing more valuable in this pass-happy league.

    4. Drayton Florence, Chargers CB: He's a league average starter at best, but he's experienced and had an excellent 2006 seasons.

    5. Brian Kelly, Bucs CB: Cover two veteran could slide to safety eventually.

    Sleepers

    Erik Coleman, Jets: Didn't fit with Eric Mangini's system, but his career started well in zone defense.

    Eugene Wilson, Patriots: Depending on the price, this two-time Super Bowl starter could revive his career with a fresh start.

    Buyer Beware

    Randall Gay, Patriots: A useful role player, but may require a Patriot tax to leave that won't be worth it.

    Ty Law, Chiefs: Reputation finally catching up to his ability, which has been in decline since his last season in New England.

  • Click here for player movement predictions and more secondary profiles.


  • Gregg Rosenthal has directed Rotoworld's football content since 2003. He co-hosts the NBC Fantasy Fix and covers the NFL for NBCSports.com and Profootballtalk.com. Catch him on Twitter.
    Email :Gregg Rosenthal



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