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NFL Cap Heaven: All-Free Agent Team, Defense

MJ Kasprzak@BayAreaCheezhedSenior Writer IIMarch 9, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 03:  Julius Peppers #90 of the Carolina Panthers looks on the sidelines during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Note: I was asked by y5nthon5a which NFL free agents I would sign and why. I have run with this idea and formed my assessments as one team…

 

2010 is an uncapped year. Imagine if Los Angeles had gotten an expansion team (who I will call the Crusaders) bank-rolled by Hollywood heavyweights, and you could buy all the free agents out there.

It’s every fan’s dream. If I were named the team’s general manager, I would have assembled the following 53-man roster before anyone else could add players, starting with the defense:

DE: Julius Peppers, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Aaron Kampman, Jarvis Green

I question how long Peppers will continue to be elite, but it’s reasonable to work off the assumption that he is still there. Vanden Bosch would take some of his double teams away and force teams to play a lot of max protect. Kampman was made average by the Packers 3-4 before getting hurt, but should be able to rush as a down lineman again and still have the ability to play outside linebacker in a 3-4, allowing a defensive coordinator to utilize both. Green is a legitimate starter who would rotate in as a fourth end…wow!

DT: Jamal Williams, Bryan Robinson, Dwan Edwards, Tank Johnson

I prefer the versatility of the 3-4, but with the glut of linemen and lack of bulk in the middle, I would run a 4-3. That being said, I do not see any of these tackles as scary, just all capable of exploiting the one-on-one blocking they would face on passes and able to occupy the middle so linebackers can make plays on runs.

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ILB: Gary Brackett, Antonio Pierce

Pierce is a good starter, and would see very little action with Brackett there and therefore would also be first off the bench on the outside.

OLB: Karlos Dansby, Keith Bulluck, Tully Bunta-Cain, Scott Fujita

With the glut of interior backers, I wanted to run a 3-4, but the line personnel did not make that the best move. Instead, I believe with this much talent around him, Dansby would be able to play on the outside (or move in if Brackett was hurt), as would Pierce in a backup role. Bunta-Cain and Fujita are solid starters relegated to special teams on this squad—this front seven is so good I would have no room for Jason Taylor as either a linebacker or defensive end!

SS: Darren Sharper, Jermaine Phillips

Sharper is small for a strong safety, but there is a lack of size at this position and he is a solid enough tackler to handle it; it may also hide his declining speed. Phillips is also a free safety and easily the weak spot at the position, but at 230 lbs. has the size to play closer to the line.

FS: Antrel Rolle, Ryan Clark

With both being 5’11” and under 210 lbs. (and probably less given how teams exaggerate size of smaller players), they cannot play strong safety. However, either is good enough to play free safety for most teams—I give the edge to Rolle as a bit more of a playmaker.

CB: Dunta Robinson, Leigh Bodden, Lito Sheppard, Deshea Townsend, Benny Sapp, Fred Smoot

Robinson and Bodden are not shut-down corners, but they are legitimate No. 1s. This team’s nickelback, Lito Sheppard, is a quality second corner, and Townsend is a nickelback at worst who would be playing dime. Sapp and Smoot are dimebacks at worst who would only play on special teams. Even with the Packers' injury problems at corner last season, this team would have a good secondary (albeit needing to move a safety over—Green Bay lost three of its top six corners).

The Crusaders defense would be absolutely dominating. Teams would need to be able to run up the middle against an average-sized but very quick line and safeties, but the linebackers would likely be able to compensate. If a team has a big-time star receiver, he might have some success against the top corner, but no team could matchup against this secondary’s depth.

If you want to know how I would utilize this free agent ranking to improve a real roster, check out my article on PackerChatters.com.

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