Last season, the New Orleans Saints brought in Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers to solidify the interior of their defensive line after allowing that infamous Marshawn Lynch run in the playoffs.
Rogers and Franklin were both enigmatic characters, as one had an inconsistent career on the whole while the other was very close to the end of his career and also had played in a different scheme prior to moving to the Saints.
This year, the Saints have targeted a more reliable prospect to play inside with Sedrick Ellis, as Brodrick Bunkley is visiting with the team on Sunday.
Bunkley, the former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle, spent last season with the Denver Broncos after being let go by the Eagles as part of their rebuild in the front seven. During the first few days of free agency, he hasn't been a highly sought-after prospect, as very few defensive tackles have actually signed anywhere.
However, at 28 years of age, Bunkley is in the prime of his career and could be a very valuable pickup for the right team.
Bunkley was let go by the Eagles because he is a two-down player. He shuts down the running game as a run-stuffing tackle but cannot contribute much, if anything, as a pass-rusher. The Eagles spent a lot of money to bring in Cullen Jenkins from the Green Bay Packers to replace him.
While Bunkley was replaced by Jenkins, there are very few tackles in the NFL who wouldn't be replaced by him. Bunkley had already lost his job in Philadelphia a year earlier, but had started the three previous seasons.
During those three years, he actually notched seven sacks, including three in one year, which maybe worked against him in the long-term because people expected him to be a three-down defensive tackle.
Bunkley was never going to be that type of tackle.
He weighs well over 300 lbs. and is 6'2". While he isn't on the same level of a Casey Hampton or Terrence Cody, his size is formidable enough to make him a consumer rather than penetrator. Bunkley is a role player on the defensive line—something that many people overlook but is very valuable nonetheless.
His role is to consume double-teams and force more offensive linemen to concentrate on him while not letting them move him from the line of scrimmage. This closes running lanes and often forces running backs to bounce around in the backfield as opposed to flying through the center of the line.
While this was the job Aubrayo Franklin was supposed to do in New Orleans last year, Franklin showed his age and lack of comfort in a 4-3 front by having mostly a poor season for the Saints. Franklin was in and out of the lineup as a Saint and is a free agent this year along with Shaun Rogers.
Bunkley would undoubtedly be an improvement over Franklin if the Saints sign him, but whether it is a season too late or not is one thing to consider.
The Saints defense would have benefited massively from adding Bunkley last year as their roster was primed for a Super Bowl. However, this year, with plenty of changes on both sides of the ball and bountygate hanging over their heads, Bunkley may be too little, too late for the Saints.