posted at 5/1/2011 11:07 PM EDT
2011 NFL Free Agents: Defensive Ends
1. Tamba Hali, DE/OLB, Chiefs. Age: 27.
Franchised by Chiefs
I'll never understand how Tamba Hali didn't make the Pro Bowl this year. A monstrous pass-rusher, he registered 14.5 sacks. Capable of playing in any defense, Hali is going to make a ton of money this offseason.
2. Ray Edwards, DE, Vikings. Age: 26.
Ray Edwards had a tremendous year, registering eight sacks and shutting down the run on his side. The question remains: How will he fare without the opposition keying in on Jared Allen and Kevin Williams?
3. Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, Giants. Age: 28.
Mathias Kiwanuka looked like he was going to have a monstrous season, racking up four sacks in the first three weeks. Unfortunately, he landed on injured reserve with a season-ending neck injury.
4. Shaun Ellis, DE/DT, Jets. Age: 34.
Shaun Ellis terrorized Tom Brady in the divisional round of the playoffs. He had a great year, but the concern is his age (34 in June).
5. Charles Johnson, DE, Panthers. Age: 25.
One of the top young defensive free agents on the market, Charles Johnson became the fifth Panther ever to record double-digit sacks (12) in 2010. He was dominant from the left end position all year. Carolina cannot afford to let him go.
6. Cliff Avril (RFA), DE, Lions. Age: 25.
Tendered by Lions (1st, 3rd)
Cliff Avril is a tremendous pass-rusher - 8.5 sacks in 13 games - but he's a liability against the run.
7 Jason Babin, DE, Titans. Age: 31.
Jason Babin recorded 12.5 sacks in 2010. However, his previous high was five sacks back in 2006. Is he just a one-hit wonder?
8. Andre Carter, DE, Redskins. Age: 32.
One of the many reasons the Redskins sucked this season was because they couldn't get any pressure on the quarterback. Why couldn't they do so? Andre Carter's conversion from 4-3 end to 3-4 rush linebacker failed. Carter, who had 11 sacks in 2009, will thrive elsewhere.
9. Raheem Brock, DE, Seahawks. Age: 33.
Raheem Brock was arrested for a DUI in early November. After that, he went on a tirade, recording eight sacks in the team's final seven games. Where did that come from? I'm not sure, but Brock turns 33 in June, so it's unlikely that he'll be able to continue this level of play for long.
10 Vernon Gholston, DE, Jets. Age: 25.
Vernon Gholston was a huge bust for the Jets as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. I'm listing him at 2.5 stars, however, for three reasons. First, Gholston is only 25, and has a ton of upside and athleticism. Second, I'd like to see what Gholston can do in a traditional 4-3. And third, defensive ends usually take a while to transition to the NFL. Granted, Gholston has shown nothing, but there's a slim chance he could be a very late bloomer. He's worth the risk.
11. Phillip Hunt, DE/OLB, CFL. Age: 23.
Signed with Eagles
Phillip Hunt led the CFL in sacks with 16 last year. The last CFL pass-rusher to come into the NFL was Cameron Wake, but as far as this signing goes, the Eagles should be happy with half of Wake's production from Hunt.
12. Wallace Gilberry (RFA), DE, Chiefs. Age: 26. Tendered by Chiefs (2nd round)
Wallace Gilberry was great as a third-down pass-rusher, recording seven sacks in 2010. He's a poor fit for the 3-4, however, and could see much more action if he moves to a team running the 4-3.
2011 Free Agents: OLB
- LaMarr Woodley, DE/OLB, Steelers. Age: 26.
Franchised by Steelers
One of the top pass-rushers in the NFL, LaMarr Woodley has 35 sacks in the past three years.
- Chad Greenway, OLB, Vikings. Age: 28.
Franchised by Vikings
One of the top outside linebackers in the NFL, Chad Greenway could be franchised this offseason. If not - Sidney Rice is Minnesota's other option - Greenway is going to receive a huge contract from someone.
- Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB, Raiders. Age: 27.
Franchised by Raiders
Moving from strongside linebacker to defensive end depending on the situation, Kamerion Wimbley totaled 9.5 sacks and really helped shut down the run.
- Manny Lawson, OLB, 49ers. Age: 27. Manny Lawson isn't the greatest pass-rusher in the world, but he does so many other things very well. Moving on to a team with a 4-3 defense might be ideal for the former first-rounder.
- Rocky McIntosh, OLB, Redskins. Age: 28.
A decent weakside linebacker in the 4-3, Rocky McIntosh was one of many Redskins who were lost in the new 3-4 look. McIntosh will have more success next year as long as he stays away from teams running the 3-4.
- James Anderson, OLB, Panthers. Age: 27. James Anderson had a very good year at strongside linebacker, recording 130 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
- Stephen Nicholas, OLB, Falcons. Age: 28.
Stephen Nicholas took over the starting strongside linebacker job in Week 4 and never looked back. He performed very well playing two downs for Atlanta.
- Quincy Black, OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
Quincy Black did a great job as Tampa Bay's two-down strongside linebacker in 2010. He missed the final few weeks with a fractured forearm, which is no big deal.
- Matt Roth, DE/OLB, Browns. Age: 28.
I'm not sure if Math Roth was hurt or not down the stretch, but he struggled late in the year after starting out really well.
- Ben Leber, OLB, Vikings. Age: 32.
Ben Leber can still start as a weakside linebacker, but at 32, his best days are behind him.
- Clint Session, OLB, Colts. Age: 26.
The Colts missed Clint Session last year; he played in only five games because of an elbow injury.
- Thomas Davis, OLB, Panthers. Age: 27.
Thomas Davis was a 3.5-star linebacker last offseason, but there's major risk here; Davis has torn his right ACL twice in the past two years.
- Justin Durant, OLB, Jaguars. Age: 25.
Justin Durant is a quality weakside linebacker, but is frequently injured.
- Thomas Howard, OLB, Raiders. Age: 28.
Thomas Howard was the odd man out in a very talented linebacking corps. Despite rotting on Oakland's bench in 2010, he could start for a new team at weakside linebacker next year.
- David Vobora (RFA), OLB, Rams. Age: 25. Tendered by Rams (original pick)
David Vobora started the final four games of the season at strongside linebacker and predictably played well. I have no idea why Vobora didn't start all year.