One of lesser addressed points of the 2013 season in San Diego was the unmet expectations of Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes to develop into a dominate tandem. While Liuget had a good season, some would say Reyes had a disappointing year. I, however, am not one of those people. In a 3-4 defense, the defensive ends are some of the lesser appreciated players on the field, and I think Liuget and Reyes can be staples of a great defense for years to come. Coinciding with that thought, Cam Thomas and Sean Lissemore were serviceable last season at nose tackle, but the Bolts have a big question to answer: do they hope to improve at the most important position in the 3-4 defense?
Cam Thomas is an unrestricted free agent in March and Lissemore is just slightly undersized with a lot of potential. Personally, I would love to see the Chargers target a player like B.J. Raji to sure up the defensive line and help push Lissemore. Raji is 27 and has plenty of experience in a 3-4 defense. If the price is right, San Diego could wind up with a huge steal yet again in free agency.
Here are the top 10 free agent defensive linemen.
10. Jared Allen
Allen is a veteran that can still chase down QBs.
Sure, he’s a little long in the tooth, just a month away from his 32nd birthday. But he can still get after the passer, evidenced by the 11.5 sacks he posted in 2013. That extended Allen’s streak of seasons with double-digit sacks to seven, a remarkable run for a guy who has gotten to the quarterback an impressive 128.5 times during his 10-year career.
9. B.J. Raji
Raji takes up space… a lot of it.
Teams like the players in the middle of their defensive line to take up space and occupy blockers. That allows outside pass rushers to avoid double teams, while also keeping would-be blockers off of linebackers trying to make tackles in the run game. At 6-foot-2 and 334 pounds, few are better at this assignment than Raji, the former ninth overall draft pick.