A market has begun to brew for former Miami Dolphins defensive end Kendall Langford. The free agent has already visited the Cincinnati Bengals, while the St. Louis Rams are the next stop on his road trip.
For Langford, however, neither of the teams that have shown interest in him is the best fit.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Green Bay Packers have shown an interest in the 26-year-old defensive end. After the suspension of Mike Neal for the start of next season increased the team's need for defensive line help, general manager Ted Thompson must be feeling the pressure to bring in a proven 3-4 defensive end.
The Packers' front seven was a big problem for the team last year, as the linebacker corps failed to match the performances of the previous season while the defensive line struggled to cope with the loss of Cullen Jenkins.
It was too big of a task to ask Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal and Jairus Wynn to replace the impact of Jenkins' seven regular-season sacks in eight starts last season. Couple that with the fact that Pickett is now 33 years of age, and the Packers need to bring in another defensive end to play next year and beyond.
At 26 years of age, Langford has the combination of experience in the NFL and potential for the future to both help the defense instantly and later on.
While Langford isn't on the same level of Jenkins, he is a fine 3-4 defensive end with the capabilities to rush the passer. Despite not notching a sack last year, as the Dolphins began to play more 4-3 fronts opposed to 3-4, Langford had 7.5 sacks in his first three seasons.
Even though that doesn't sound impressive, when you put those stats in context, they are. As a 295 lb 3-4 defensive end, Langford's primary job was to stuff the run and consume blockers. On most snaps he would have faced double teams trying to move him off the line of scrimmage, or prevent him from pushing the pocket in the passing game.
While the Packers would still need to improve the rest of the front seven in order to really improve as a defense, Langford would be a good addition to consume blockers for the playmaking linebackers behind him.
In Green Bay, Langford could resume that role as part of a rotation with Jairus Wynn, Ryan Pickett and Neal, once he returns.
In Cincinnati or St. Louis, Langford would have to adjust to a new role as a 4-3 defensive tackle. He is too big to play defensive end, and not of the right build to take on all the responsibilities of a 4-3 tackle. If he did have to end up with either of those teams, then the Bengals would be the better option.
The Bengals have Geno Atkins playing defensive tackle already. Atkins is a penetrating tackle who had an incredible 7.5 sacks last year. A combination of Atkins and Langford could work, as they would play in a similar way to the "Williams wall" of a few years ago in Minnesota.
While both players would play both aspects of opposing offenses, each would essentially specialize in shutting down one aspect of the game. Atkins excels against the pass, while Langford would excel against the run. Being predictable and limited like that is never ideal, but can work if there is enough talent available at the positions and if they work together on the field.
Langford is not Pat Williams, nor Cullen Jenkins, but he is a very reliable starter and falls under the category of "prudent pickup for a championship team."
A championship team is presumably what the Packers are trying to build.
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