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Michael Johnson, Michael Bennett, Henry Melton
Israel Idonije, Jason Hunter, Aubrayo Franklin
By and large, this is another relatively solid class, though as with some of the offensive “skill position” categories, it is a bit top heavy.
And that’s despite Greg Hardy getting franchised tagged recently, as reported on NFL.com by Albert Breer (relayed by Gregg Rosenthal).
Even with Hardy removed from play, this is an impressive class.
Michael Johnson and Michael Bennett are both coveted by their current teams (the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks, respectively), but they may end up being too expensive for a return to be a reality.
Even after those two, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton, Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston should be hot commodities on the open market.
Keep a special eye on Houston, who I see Oakland regretting allowing to get away.
On the low end, you still have some solid prospects. Israel Idonije was hurt at the end of the season, but the Detriot Lions only really used him as an occasional run-stopper, and he should fill that role elsewhere.
Ditto for Indianapolis Colts nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, another guy mostly there to plug running lanes.
Jason Hunter, Oakland’s other fleeing defensive end, is a decent pass-rusher and could do well on a team that needs someone in a rotational role.
While the bottom tier is clearly filled with part-time or one-note players, there is still a ton of value, even if it’s not top-shelf.