Interesting defensive line class this year -- we've got a pair of potential studs, both young, up top, and a slew of elderly pass rushers on the list as well.
What makes the free-agency class particularly interesting is the fact that the pass rushers in the draft don't come in the mold we see the guys in free agency. Most of the guys on this list are "traditional" 4-3 defensive ends; whereas the guys in the draft look more like hybrid-type pass rushers.
This is a pretty strong list, though, especially considering the market and cost for players is supposed to be suppressed this offseason.
1. Cliff Avril, DE, Lions
Avril's coming off a down year with 9.5 sacks, giving him 39.5 total for his five-year career in Detroit. He's not perfect against the run, but he's also got a whopping 16 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and an impressive 13 pass deflections over his career too. He seems like a good bet to land a sizable deal and should draw plenty of interest at only 26 years old.
2. Michael Bennett, DE, Buccaneers
Bennett had a huge year in 2012, sacking opposing quarterbacks nine times, playing stout against the run and forcing three fumbles. At just 27, there's an argument to be made that he's the best defensive end available on the market this offseason. One has to wonder how much he was helped by Gerald McCoy's monster season though.
3. Desmond Bryant, DT, Raiders
No, not that Dez Bryant. This Desmond Bryant actually got arrested this offseason. That's kind of a bad time to get in trouble, but fortunately for Bryant he's quite talented. Early rumors have a lot of teams on Bryant early, but you have to wonder how much his arrest will hurt his contract.
4. Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts
Freeney was given his freedom from Indianapolis and it's probably best for both parties. Freeney can chase a second ring -- perhaps with either Atlanta or Denver -- and he doesn't have to deal with playing in a 3-4 defense as the Colts transition. For Indy, they get younger. No one needs to hand him a huge deal, but he could definitely be a factor for a year or two.
5. Alan Branch, DL, Seahawks
Branch is a big dude who filled up the middle for Seattle and had a quietly strong season. Seattle would be smart to try to bring him back, considering how their defensive line is quietly facing some serious attrition.
6. John Abraham, DE, Falcons
Abraham was a bit of a surprise cut, though not entirely shocking, when he was dumped by the Falcons. He has 19.5 sacks the last two seasons and was easily Atlanta's top pass rusher last year. Just another veteran who, for a low price and short contract, could end up being a decent value.
7. William Hayes, DL, Rams
Oh hello seven sacks in 16 games with no starts. Hayes (who is from High Point, N.C., and therefore automatically good people) is a kid who could be quiet difference-maker if he lands in the right spot.
8. Richard Seymour, DT, Raiders
Seymour's plenty old at this point (33), but he's had some pretty stout seasons the last two years despite moving over to defensive tackle. He had three sacks before going down with an injury last year. Not gonna be a long-term solution, but he's not done yet.
9. Osi Umenyiora, DE, Giants
How did Osi fall this far this fast? His contract squabbles with the Giants were a problem, but a bigger problem was his inability to get after the quarterback the last two seasons, posting just 15 sacks in that time frame. Osi could end up being a steal if he has a bounce-back season, but is anyone going to be comfortable with him in anything other than a rotational setup?
10. Chris Canty, DT, Giants
Quietly strong start to last year for Canty who picked up three sacks in nine games in 2012. Not the biggest name in the world by any stretch of the imagination but could very much work as a space plugger on a cheap deal for a cash-strapped team like the Panthers.