Ranking the defensive lines, team-by-team
Michael David Smith / FootballOutsiders.com
1 Aug. 2006

1. Chicago
Tackle Ian Scott doesn't get much attention, but you can bet Brian Urlacher sends him a nice fruit basket every Christmas. Scott keeps opposing guards away from Urlacher, and his fellow starting tackle, Tommie Harris, has a very good first step. No pair of ends gets off the ball more quickly than Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye. Backup tackle Tank Johnson has great talent but has had multiple scrapes with the law and multiple injuries, and the Bears' front office might have lost patience with him. Third-round pick Dusty Dvoracek could move ahead of Johnson on the depth chart.
18. Minnesota
Pat Williams' presence made a big difference on Minnesota's run defense, which improved from terrible to average, and his absence made a big difference on Buffalo's run defense, which declined from great to terrible. Many analysts called Kevin Williams a reach when the Vikings took him ninth overall in 2003, but he's developed into a very good player. Minnesota's starting ends, Kenechi Udeze and Erasmus James, haven't yet lived up to their potential. Both were first-round draft picks.
23. Detroit
The retirement of Big Daddy Wilkinson is a much greater loss than most fans realize. Wilkinson, unlike nearly all of his Detroit teammates, has consistently played at a high level in the last few years. Shaun Rogers is a massive and surprisingly quick run-stopping tackle, but he doesn't fit the mold of the defensive linemen Rod Marinelli coached in Tampa Bay — Marinelli likes smaller, quicker players like Shaun Cody, who will take over Wilkinson's starting role. Ends James Hall and Kalimba Edwards are both speed rushers who should fit nicely with the Marinelli defense.
25. Green Bay
Aaron Kampman is a very good end and the Packers were wise to sign him to a long-term contract this year. Kampman is a much better all-around player than the more heralded Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, a one-dimensional pass rusher. The signing of Ryan Pickett as a free agent from St. Louis won't make much difference. Pickett never did much with the Rams.