Which teams could take a DT off the board?

January 27th, 2013 | Written by Rob Staton

Sheldon Richardson will leave the board quickly in round one

Sheldon Richardson, Star Lotulelei, Sharrif Floyd, Kawann Short, Sylvester Williams.

Five defensive tackles, all of which could be on Seattle’s radar with the #25 pick — especially if they’re unable to address this need in free agency. But how likely is it they’ll be available? Which are the teams capable of making life difficult for the Seahawks?

Jacksonville Jaguars

It seems like Jacksonville’s pass rush has been terrible for a long time, but it has to be Gus Bradley’s first port of call as he improves this team. A big trade up for Derrick Harvey in 2008 didn’t solve the problem. They claimed Jason Babin towards the end of the season but he turns 33 in May. Rookie Andre Branch didn’t feature much in 2012 and had just one sack. They need a pass rusher. The question is — do they look at the interior rushers (Richardson, Lotulelei, Floyd) at #2 or do they target an edge rusher like Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore? Improving the edge is a greater need, but the interior talent might be superior.

Oakland Raiders

One of the few strengths Oakland had in 2012 was the defensive line, particular at tackle. Desmond Bryant developed into an effective force while much maligned Richard Seymour did a better job than most are willing to give him credit for. The problem is, both are free agents in 2013 and the Raiders are $4.5m over the salary cap. If they manage to keep Bryant they have the option of moving the talented Lamarr Houston inside and letting Seymour walk. In that scenario, they’ll almost certainly target edge rushers, a quarterback or a left tackle. If they lose both Bryant and Seymour, it increases the chances they’ll consider drafting one of Lotulelei, Richardson or Floyd.

Philadelphia Eagles

Chip Kelly appears set to switch to a 3-4 defense and it opens up the possibility of looking at the defensive line. If Luke Joeckel goes before the #4 pick, the Eagles could go in a number of directions. They could draft a quarterback. They could draft another left tackle, such as Eric Fisher (much depends on the health of Jason Peters). They could draft a much needed cornerback like Dee Milliner. Or they can anchor the 3-4 by going big up front. They don’t have an obvious nose tackle on the roster and could also use some help at the five technique. Lotulelei is more than capable of manning the nose at 325lbs and his excellence against the run makes this a great fit. Richardson and Floyd can both play 3-4 defensive end.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans ranked ninth for sacks and have bigger needs, but they don’t have a great defensive tackle. It really depends what they want to get out of the draft because at the moment they’re drifting into obscurity. They fired Mike Reinfeldt as vice-president but kept the man he appointed to be GM (Ruston Webster). They’re bringing in disgraced defensive coach Gregg Williams to support likely lame duck Mike Munchak. Surely they need an impact player? That could lead them to the tackle class. Chance Warmack plus any of the defensive ends or cornerbacks should also be an option. This could go either way, but ultimately there are people trying to keep their jobs in Tennessee. So which position will provide the greatest return in 2013?

Miami Dolphins

Randy Starks and Paul Soliai created one of the more dynamic defensive tackle tandem’s in the NFL in 2012. The only problem is, Starks is a free agent. There will be greater priorities for the Dolphins — Jake Long is a free agent and appears set to leave Miami, getting better receivers for Ryan Tannehill is crucial and improving the secondary is also important. This will really depend on who’s left on the board at #12. There’s every chance Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are gone by the time Miami picks, so do they take Lane Johnson? Do they draft a receiver here or wait until round two where they have a couple of picks? If Starks leaves and one or more of Lotulelei, Richardson and Floyd remain on the board, they could come into play.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have two big needs — cornerback and defensive tackle. There’s a lot of talk about Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes being first round picks and teams do love to draft corners in round one. Dee Milliner will be off the board by the 14th pick. With all due respect to Trufant and Rhodes, they’d have to see corner as a pretty significant need to pass on one of the defensive tackles. Expect one to leave the board with this pick.

New Orleans

In reaction to sporting the worst total defense in the NFL last year, Sean Payton is switching to the 3-4. Defensive tackle was a need for the Saints anyway, but it becomes even more crucial now that they’re switching schemes. No — they don’t have any obvious candidates to play OLB and get to the quarterback. But they also lack an obvious nose tackle. That’s usually the starting point for any team switching to the 3-4. This pick shouldn’t impact the Seahawks too much given Lotulelei will likely be off the board at this time, meaning the Saints will either draft a big body like Jonathan Jenkins or Johnathan Hankins — or they’ll take an edge rusher instead.

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas going tackle is more likely following the addition of Monte Kiffin, the switch to a 4-3 scheme and the recent arrest of Jay Ratliff. It’ll come down to Jerry Jones’ faith in Kiffin to work with what he’s got. The interior offensive line needs rebuilding and should be a bigger priority for the Cowboys, but the dramatic scheme-switch is a curve ball. They could draft a power end to play across fro DeMarcus Ware (Ziggy Ansah?) or they could draft a pure three-technique to provide interior penetration. It’s worth noting Kiffin came very close to recruiting Sheldon Richardson to play for USC. Richardson played JUCO football in California and almost switched his commitment from Missouri to the Trojans. He cited Kiffin’s influence as the reason he almost made the change.

Minnesota Vikings

Kevin Williams turns 33 in August and the final bricks in the ‘Williams Wall’ are starting to crumble and break away. The Vikings are unlikely to prioritise defensive tackle in round one, especially with bigger needs at receiver, linebacker, cornerback and guard. The concern will be Minnesota picks right before the Seahawks and if one of the upper-tier tackles does suffer a slight drop, they could steal in for value purposes. However, they could have their choice of the receiver class and if Jonathan Cooper slips to #24, the Vikings would be wise to pair him with Matt Kalil on the left side of the offensive line.

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When you see reports suggesting Sharrif Floyd could be a top-ten pick, you start to wonder if NFL scouts and GM’s view the likes of Loutlelei, Richardson and Floyd as superior to the edge rushers and other defensive players in the draft. If they’re rated near the top of most boards, you could see all three go in the top 10-15. It wouldn’t be a ridiculous proposition.

In 2011 the Seahawks benefited from the first offensive tackle (Tyron Smith) not leaving the board until the ninth overall pick. The second (Nate Solder) was the #17 pick. Danny Watkins was drafted two places before the Seahawks took James Carpenter. A rush on the position early could’ve put Seattle’s front office in a position where they had to look elsewhere. Carpenter could’ve been the ‘tipping point’ in terms of drafting an offensive tackle in round one.

I listed nine teams above and name-checked five tackles. If Seattle wants to address this position they’ll probably get the opportunity to do so. It’s a stretch to think Lotulelei, Richardson and Floyd will make it through all nine, however. Not impossible, just unlikely.

Seahawks fans need to hope other teams prioritise quarterbacks and offensive tackles — as has been the case in the past. Whatever anyone says about this quarterback class, the new CBA makes it much less of a gamble taking a chance to find a franchise signal caller. Every team picking in the top ten except Detroit has a question mark at quarterback. In 2012 Justin Blackmon, the #5 pick,┬ásigned a contract worth $18.5m over four years. The #10 pick Stephon Gilmore agreed a deal worth $12.1m over four years. Compare that to the #5 pick in 2010, Eric Berry, who’s deal was worth $60m over six years, or the #10 pick Tyson Alualu who signed a $28m contract.

Teams picking in the top ten these days can take more risks. In a year without obvious top-end talent, there’s a chance we’ll see multiple teams reaching for quarterbacks. Seven of the top ten are also breaking in new Head Coaches or GM’s. Will they be looking for ‘their guy’? Do players like Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon and Tyler Wilson become more attractive on contracts worth around $12-20m?

In that scenario you could be looking at the first defensive tackle leaving the board as late as #14 to Carolina. That’s the best case scenario for Seattle. It’s also probably wishful thinking. Yet there’s enough uncertainty surrounding the early picks that pretty much anything could happen — a rush on quarterbacks, defensive tackles, defensive ends, offensive lineman. This years draft more than any other is going to be completely unpredictable. And it wouldn’t surprise me if a number of unexpected players make it into the 20′s.

I’m going to do a bigger piece on Kawann Short tomorrow. He might be Seattle’s best bet if they want to draft a three-technique with the #25 overall pick. One thing I noticed today though — Short will be 24 in February. Star Lotulelei will also turn 24 during his rookie season, while Sylvester Williams will be 25. On the other hand Sharrif Floyd doesn’t turn 21 until late May. Sheldon Richardson’s birthdate is unknown but he graduated from high school in 2009. That’s quite a difference and I wonder if age will impact how teams approach this group.

40 Responses to “Which teams could take a DT off the board?”

  1. Zach says:

    I hope KC takes a QB at #1.

  2. MJ says:

    Didnt realize Short and Star were 24…yikes. Scary to think Floyd has 3 years less development than those guys. Believe Richardson is a younger guy, ie 21-22. I don’t mind older prospects, but we reached for Irvin last year and I just get nervous about high round picks being in their mid 20s.

    At thisnpoint, they need to go DT in FA, otherwise we are going to reach for a middling guy at 25. I think the smart plan would be to expect a great pass catcher at 25 and don’t fight the board. Ertz, Hopkins, etc, someone will be there and I think it’s too talented of a group to ignore to reach for a need. Obviously, on draft day, anything can happen, but at this point they should approach this as no chance a good DT will be there. If he happens to be, then draft him. Just don’t get in a scenario where we have to reach for an inferior prospect.

    • Rob Staton says:

      When Sharrif Floyd get to Sylvester Williams’ age as a rookie, Williams will be approaching his 30th birthday. And Short/Lotulelei are only a year younger than Williams. That’s a big age gap.

  3. stuart says:

    Along those lines I will be cheering for every non DT that is not chosen. The less chosen the better selection we will have. Today if I could have my choice it would be DT Floyd (Star and Richardson will be long gone). At only 21 years old whats not to love about that. If he is not the ultimately DT we are looking for, he could be Reds replacement after next season.

  4. stuart says:

    Suppose the Hawks were able to sign FA DT Starks to a 2 year contract. What would our board look like then? What other FA’s would be of interest? With Starks in the fold, what do we do about re-signing Branch and/or Jones?

    • Zach says:

      We sign Branch and get rid of Jones.

    • Rob Staton says:

      I think Branch will get a lot of suitors. He could land in Jacksonville. He’s an option for any of the teams switching to a 3-4 who need a nose tackle. Jones I’m not sure, depends what his market is. They might want to save money and go in a different direction. And if they get that DT in free agency, then I think they turn their attentions to a pass catcher or a defensive end.

  5. Zach says:

    Would we move up to say #18 just to make sure we get Floyd if he’s still there?

    • Rob Staton says:

      Could be expensive. You’re talking at least a third rounder, perhaps a little extra on top of that too.

      • Zach says:

        Could be worth it, but I don’t think we give up that much unless it’s for Richardson. I am not sold on Starks being able to be ” that guy ” we need though. If we pick up Starks I believe we should still take Short at #25. Side note….Wilson should get the car, lol.

  6. SunPathPaul says:

    This is a bit off this topic, but Russell Wilson is killing it in the Pro Bowl, MVP style…

    The question is that RW and Victor Cruz look like they have some chemistry…
    Cruz is a RFA…

    Rob and others, would you possibly go after Cruz? (w no Revis deal happening)

    • Rob Staton says:

      I like Victor Cruz but I’m not spending a R1 tender on a 27-year-old receiver who is 6-0 and 204lbs, knowing he’ll want a mega contract.

    • Zach says:

      Nope. Too much denario.

      • SunPathPaul says:

        Good Points. Just curious… I wouldn’t give up a 1 either, he had a middling season…

        RW sure looked like he was MVP… Is good to pass it around though… So a TE Won it.
        Kyle Rudolph played well, and I hope it is a sign that we are getting another good one on our team!

        Who would you compare Rudolph too? Rob, is Ertz better? at what?
        …and would Reed, Kelce or Fauria be comparable??

        Thx

  7. bjammin says:

    Russell and the rest of the Hawks made this pro bowl the most fun one I’ve ever seen. Not that I’m biased.

  8. Cade says:

    Hey guys!

    I had a question from yesterday Im hoping to get an answer or two to..

    Its a question about motor and in context to Kawann Short in particular

    “Do you think being out of the party atmosphere of a college and in the competitive atmosphere of a Pete Caroll lead locker room would make a big impact in effort for alot of players?

    So basically are players more motivated for success in the NFL vs College? If so do you think the Seahawks locker room specifically fosters high effort?

    I know it varies from player to player.”

    Thanks for any thoughts

    • Zach says:

      You would think getting drafted in the NFL would start anyone’s motor. But if there’s a coach that can get you going it’s PC. Maybe Short having a low motor really wasn’t the problem. Maybe he was just 25 pounds to heavy and got tired too easily.

    • bjammin says:

      Ask Mike Williams his first time around. NFL is professional, collegiate isn’t. Everybody’s good in the nfl, you better be a professional or it will show. Pete Carroll locker room or not, it is up to the player to make the effort. Not guaranteed. Partying not exclusive to college either. Pretty sure there’s a lot of nfl players having a lot of fun on their time off. Moffit’s svelte figure didn’t make itself.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Quite possibly, but I suppose the other side of the argument is will his motor be even more impacted once he gets paid. Having watched more Purdue tape over the last 48 hours though, I’m finding motor concerns less of an issue with Short.

  9. Zach says:

    Off topic. Is there really any way the Chiefs don’t take either Tyler Wilson or Geno Smith at #1 knowing they have no chance at them in round 2? I’ve been reading a bunch of Chief boards and most fans are fairly certain and desperate for them to pick a QB in the first round. They will have to sign up B. Albert though, otherwise they might pick an O-lineman. I just can’t fathom KC picking anything other than a QB there.

    • SunPathPaul says:

      Hmmmmm…. Reid and a new team w some talent… Do they go QB or elsewhere in R1? This will be a huge part of the frame for the draft. How many teams reach for a QB? Like Rob pointed out, the more they make a R1 run on QB’s and O-line, the better chance we have of getting the DT/DE we might want.

      Otherwise the draft goes the other way with an unsaid understanding that QB’s are a real R2 and onward thing!!!

      That will shift our picks available quite a bit…

    • A. Simmons says:

      It’s Andy Reid. He’s going to draft his QB with that pick.

  10. pqlqi says:

    Rob,

    how would richard seymour look as a transition player for a year or two a la Branch and Jones?

    • pqlqi says:

      not that I think we shouldn’t address the position in the draft…

    • Rob Staton says:

      He’s seen better days. If they want solid, unspectacular play with the possibility of him being banged up, then it’s an option. But I think they’re more likely to use the draft than go with Seymour.

  11. Zach says:

    Let’s just take 10 DT/DE’s in the draft and hope one shines.

  12. Dan Barber says:

    The 3-tech and LEO are so crucial in this defense that it is a mistake I think to depend upon the #25 pick to succeed at those spots on a Super Bowl-contending team. We have cap-space. Go get a 3-tech that is proven (Desmond Bryant/Randy Starks). Also, since Clemons is a huge question mark, go get a proven pass-rusher (Kruger/Umenyiora/Spencer). Reserve the draft for depth: nickle CB (Trufant at #25), a big X-receiver (Dobson at #56), and a NT (Brandon Williams at #87). As for WLB, it would be a nice fit to get UFA Kaluka Maiava who knows the system and won’t cost much.

    • Phil says:

      I agree — in the past, Rob has pointed out what a crap shoot it is to draft a 3-tech, so I’d prefer to get a known commodity via free agency, and maybe a LEO, too. Use the draft to go BPA at WR/TE/WLB/nickle CB/.

      • Rob Staton says:

        I think it all depends on whether Melton and Starks hit the market. Starks should do. And if he does, I really do think the Seahawks will go for it and try to get him. Carroll name checked him a lot before and after the Miami game.

  13. AlaskaHawk says:

    Rob – nice article. It will be hard to get into that top 5 in defense. We will be picking more in the 8-10 defensive player position.

    But there is hope that The jaguars could pick a quarterback instead.

    Also was reading a Chicago blog that was more focused on an offensive linemen for their #1. So Ertz could fall to us. Of course we would have a wide choice of receivers in the first.

    I am curious about Jesse Williams as DT. He should be available to us in the first round. Would he be a good fit?

    Still hope for our 3 tech even in middle rounds. Just need to keep picking and play the numbers game till we find the right person.

    • Rob Staton says:

      Chicago’s new coach hasn’t used a lot of TE stuff in the CFL I understand but I spoke to some fans and they feel it’s a big need. I think the hope on their behalf is that Jake Long ends up in Chicago and then they either go TE or guard at #20. Can only hope they like Jonathan Cooper and that he’ll be available. Their defense is good enough to compete so I expect an offense-pick one way or another.

      I like Jesse Williams but think he’s better suited to DE in the 3-4 or acting in the Stephen Paea type role as a stout one-tech. There will be options in the mid-rounds to try and find a three-technique, the aforementioned Jordan Hill being a prime candidate.

  14. Justin says:

    In regards to Revis. We don’t have to sign him, but at least drive the price up enough to prevent the 9ers from taking him. Or break their bank to get him.

  15. Trudy Beekman says:

    I only see a highlight tape of Jordan Hill, but it is incredible. Quick off the snap, relentless motor, active hands, great penetration and lateral pursuit. He also seems to have good awareness and balance. He’ll sometimes get turned sideways or all the way around, but still somehow make the play. I’m interested to see what a full game tape of his looks like, but I see some people knocking his size which looks like 6’1″ 300. Strength might be a concerned as most of his penetration comes from effort and hands or a swim move to disengage blockers quickly rather than bull rush.

    You mentioned in your article that Lotulelei could be a nose, and I really don’t see it in the tape. The size is there, but he seems best suited to just penetrate, and there were a bunch of times where he actually kind of blew it against the run. Maybe it’s because he was one-gapping, but it was kind of disappointing to see him let guys run right past him, especially against USC.

    Also Rob, did you get a chance to look at that tape of Chris Jones from BGSU? If so, what were your thoughts?