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Friday, December 17, 2004

Rebuilding the D-line: Fundamental Problem

by Mark Quarderer
PackerChatters Staff

It kind of comes down to numbers. How many D-linemen do you intend to carry on the 53 man roster? 10, with 8 active on gameday?

Grady Jackson is under contract for next year and will be back.
KGB is under contract and will be back. A huge cap hit if we cut or trade him.
Corey Williams is under contract and will be a 2nd year player
Donnel Washington is under contract and will be a 2nd year player.

So, I feel very, very confident these four guys will be back.

Kenny Petersen is under contract and is a 3rd year player
James Lee is under contract and is a 3rd year player.

So, unless we want to eat a year of a contract, both of these guys will be back as well. That brings us to six.

Aaron Kampman has been our second best defensive lineman this year. I know that some posters think he is a weak link, but IMO, they don't know what they're talking about. Kampman will almost certainly be back unless we screw up and let him get away.

That's seven. Next is Cullen Jenkins who is an exclusive rights free agent and an incredible bargain at the league minimum. I feel pretty sure he'll be back. That's 8.

So, we're at 8 right now, and we haven't even discussed Cletidus Hunt and Truluck. Truluck can be cut and it costs us nothing. Hunt would cost us 750K to be rid of him, and IMO, that's a deal too good to pass up.

So even if we cut Truluck and lose Hunt, we still have 8 guys

3 true tackles (Jackson--Washington---Lee)
1 pass rush specialist. (KGB)
4 kind of versatile tweeners who play more end than tackle and are probably better at end than tackle, although Jenkins has shown a pass rush from the tackle spot. (Kampman--Petersen--Williams---Jenkins).

So let's assume, for the sake of argument, that we want to upgrade the defensive line. Where? And who gets deactivated for the games assuming everybody is healthy?

IMO, our need at tackle is much greater than our need at end. We have repeatedly been given ample evidence that Grady Jackson is the only tackle we have that can stop the run, and Grady will be 32 with a bad body.....so I don't know how much of our hopes we pile on his back.

Patty has argued that we should be looking at a free agent tackle who could help us immediately while Washington and Lee develop. That makes sense to me. But that brings us to 9.....we're starting to get crowded at defensive line. And now we want to spend a high draft pick on a monster power end?

Are we prepared to cut a guy like Petersen or Lee to make room for somebody else? Do we want to spend a first round draft pick on a DE who is only going to be a rotation guy for us, at least for the first year? If we sign Kampman to a long term contract, and we already have KGB signed to a long term contract, and we've got guys like Williams and Petersen and Jenkins around.....how much do we really need another DE?

So although I'm a big fan of making the defensive line as strong as possible, I'm also aware that it isn't as simple as just going out and getting a couple of guys.....things have to fall in place contract wise as well.

I know that people will probably disagree with me on this, but I think if we can get another run stopping tackle in the fold we can probably get by with our current crop of DEs. I think the pass rush has been steadily improving....but we just can't keep anybody covered long enough for it to get there.

So, if I were fixing the defensive line, and the rest of the defense, I'd do whatever it took to get another run-stuffer at DT, and then I'd get a better safety...or two...back there to compete with Roman and Jue. I wouldn't make any moves on a DE at this time, but rather I'd wait until Petersen's contract expires after 05 and then make my move for a DE then.

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