Since the Denver Broncos weren't able to find a starting Defensive Tackle during the draft this past weekend, or more like an acceptable candidate did not fall to them on their Board, it is time to look again at the viable options via the Free Agent Pool. I wrote on this subject in January thinking it was accepted that a Free Agency period would precede the 2011 NFL Draft. Since that did not go down like each of us thought it would, let's review the Defensive Tackles available who play in the 4-3 scheme. I have included whether or not their team has an opportunity of placing the Franchise Tag on any of them, but I would add the caveat that without a CBA, their is uncertainty in that regard, as well as the service time for Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agent status. I am leaving the original text from my earlier post, but I will add an update to each one.
Brandon Mebane is the starting LDT for the Seattle Seahawks. He is 6' 1", 311 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 4th year. In 2010, he had a salary of $1.101 million.
At only 6’1, Mebane has the natural leverage and quickness to give interior linemen fits. Though his numbers were merely average, his impact on the field was anything but that. A solid tackle who does a great job reading plays and picking up the run, Brandon is quicker than he is fast. He excels at getting into the backfield off the snap, has a high motor and a healthy amount of confidence. His limited size and athleticism are obstacles. He is improving but needs to show more skills. Mebane is typecast as somewhat of a one-dimensional pocket-collapser. He is considered to a good starter. Brandon has the work ethic and the tools to be a dominant defensive tackle for the next decade. The Seahawks will try everything in their power to ensure that each of those years will be in Seattle.
Barry Cofield is the starting LDT for the NY Giants. He is 6-4, 306 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 5th year. According to Yahoo, he made $1,016,110 in 2010. Barry can excel at both tackle and end. His size and girth allow him to play in the middle but he's fast enough to get into the backfield. A good run stopper and solid tackler who's cool from snap to whistle. He isn't an explosive defender with play-making skills because of his slow reaction on snaps. He is improving but still misses some easy tackles. Considered a very reliable starting lineman, Cofield also has a Super Bowl Ring.
Daniel Muir is the starting LDT for the Indianapolis Colts. He is 6' 2", 312 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $1.759 million. Muir is a well-sized and very athletic Tackle who reads plays well and reacts quickly. He possesses both the speed and mentality to adjust and make the stops on running plays. Daniel is a bit of a late bloomer who is still learning. He doesn't wrap efficiently and sometimes needs help to finish tackles. Could be coached up on execution basics, but still, he is a starting defensive lineman.
Anthony Hargrove is the 2nd string LDT for the New Orleans Saints. He is 6' 3", 272 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 6th year. He made $622,080 in 2010. A very good athlete with above-average initial quickness, Hargrove shows solid instincts and awareness. He is very good at getting into the backfield for sacks and run-stuffs. Somewhat of a late bloomer, his focus and intensity are question marks. Anthony doesn't have ideal overall size for the position and can be an inconsistent performer because of it. He is considered a rotational defensive end with starter tools. Hargrove also has a Super Bowl Ring.
Leger Douzable is the 2nd string LDT behind Tyson Alualu for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is 6' 4", 284 lbs, Age: 24 and in his 2nd year. His 2010 salary was $385,000 and he is currently a Restricted Free Agent. Leger has good mobility and strength. He plays a safe and physical game. He has solid tackling ability and defends well against the pass. Douzable isn't an instinctive reactor to plays. He doesn't seem to have the poise and mean streak to make big plays. He is not a pass-rusher and has limited vision of the field. He is considered a fringe reserve lineman.
Fred Evans is a LDT for the Minnesota Vikings. He is 6' 4", 305 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 5th year. His 2010 salary was $1.759 million. He is currently positioned at 3rd string behind Pat Williams and Jimmy Kennedy on the Vikings depth chart. Fred can be a real load up the middle when he gets up a full head of steam. He has good acceleration and can collapse the pocket. He also picks up the run fairly well along the way. Evans is an inconsistent performer who needs to develop better technique rather than relying so much on his solid (but not elite) physical tools. He is considered a decent rotation lineman with starter potential.
Derek Landri started sporadically at RDT for the Carolina Panthers in 2010. He is 6' 2", 290 lbs, Age: 27 and in his 4th year. In 2010, he made $466,110 according to Yahoo. Landri is an intense and scrappy defender that gets a real good burst through the line and can collapse the pocket. He is very solid at picking up runners along the way. However, Derek is a little bit undersized at tackle. he isn't a great athlete and needs to keep working to improve his technique. He may just need to be in the right system to succeed as a pro. Considered a backup defensive tackle that is a fringe Practice Squad player.
Gary Gibson is the starting RDT for the St. Louis Rams. He is 6' 3", 285 lbs, Age: 28 and in his 5th year. According to Yahoo, his 2010 salary was $510,000. Gibson is a good, physical player who possesses great lower-body strength to defend the middle against running plays. He's not a shifty lineman and doesn't use his hands well enough to get an extra step to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Gary is a decent rotational lineman though.
Antonio Johnson plays 2nd string behind Fili Moala at RDT for the Indianapolis Colts. He is 6' 3", 310 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 4th year. In 2010, his salary was $390,200 according to Yahoo. Antonio has size, natural quickness, and a nose for the ball. He is a solid physical presence who works hard on every shift. He is also a very good listener and fast learner. Another late bloomer, Johnson still needs a lot of work with technique and footwork as he can lose his balance and get pushed backwards at times. He is considered a starting defensive tackle.
Andre Fluellen is the 2nd string RDT for the Detroit Lions. He is 6' 2", 302 lbs, Age: 25 and in his 3rd year. In 2010, he made $391,890. He is currently a Restricted Free Agent. A supreme athlete for a guy his size, Andre moves well, has good leverage and can penetrate beyond the line to make some plays. The problem is inconsistency. He needs to start living up to his measurables. Fluellen could put on a lot of bulk without losing too much and may be a better fit in 3-4 defenses as a Nose Tackle. He is considered to be a decent rotation lineman or occasional starter.
Clifton Ryan is a RDT for the St. Louis Rams. He is 6' 3", 310 lbs, Age: 26 and in his 4th year. His 2010 salary was $1.684 million. Ryan is a very serviceable lineman who can play both the end or tackle position. He has the explosive burst to get into the backfield, either off the edge or collapsing the pocket from the middle. He also has the tools of a play-maker. He isn't a speedy defender despite having solid mobility and will sometimes come in late on plays. He is considered a solid interior D-lineman. Clifton was limited to one game in 2010 because of Migraines. The Rams placed him on Injured Reserve on Oct 27th.