Making the Cut: D-Lineman

This is probably the quietest point of the year for NFL news. Rookies will start signing around the start of July and then mini-camps following that. With the NBA championship decided and in its rightful place, I need something to talk about.

So, let's speculate upon the future inhabitants of the 53-man roster. We may see a free agent or two signed and there may be a trade, but it is just as, if not more, likely that all of the candidates are in place.

I decided to start with the Defensive line. What a difference a year makes. This time last year, the defensive line was thin. It was so thin, that no one seemed to even really care that the DT's were allergic to running backs, because we were all having brain hemorrhages over the lack of run stoppers on the edges. This year the defensive line is a strong candidate to become the strength of this team.

Last year the Raiders kept 8 D-lineman. They still have Trevor Scott listed as a DE, but according to all reports he has moved to OLB and I will save him for the LB section.

Let's assume the Raiders will carry 8 defensive lineman again this year. Given the hybrid nature of some of the guys getting reps at OLB I can't see them going with more than 8 D-lineman and it is rare that a 4-3 team would ever carry fewer than 8. 

Barring any trades or injuries, these guys look to be locks to make the roster: Seymour, Houston, Shaughnessy, Henderson, Bryant and Kelly.

That leaves 2 spots for: Alex Daniels, Greyson Gunhiem, Kellen Heard, Chirs Cooper, Ryan Boschetti, William Joseph and Jay Richardson.

Of this group, I'd say Jay Richardson is the front runner. At 26 years old, he has been a decent rotation contributor. He registered 23 tackles and 3 sacks last year.

Of that same group, Gunhiem, Boschetti--who were both cut last year by the Raiders--and Cooper, who hasn't made an NFL team since '07, would have to dive headlong into the Lyle Alzado/Barry Bonds training regimen to impress the coaches enough to make the squad.

The 8th d-lineman is almost certainly going to be a DT. So, sorry Alex Daniels, bust your ass and you can make the practice squad, but you aren't going to make the 53.

That leaves us with William Joseph vs. Kellen Heard.

Joseph made a decent contribution at the end of last season and ended up with 8 tackles after joining the team just prior to week 10 and that was after being released just prior to week 1, when Dick decided to show up. Joseph is a big body at 310 and questionable desire, but he has proven he can be on the NFL field for a few snaps without embarrassing himself. He also played for DL coach Mike Waufle in NY.  

Then there is the big ?, Kellen Heard. The guy with the look of an NFL DT and the resume of a bouncer. After leaving Texas A&M for Memphis his senior season, he was so unimpressive to the Memphis staff that they moved the DT to the offensive line. He was then so unimpressive they moved him back to DT. 

So, who's it going to be? I know many fans are enamored with Heard's size, but his lack of college success and undrafted status lead me to believe he will be lucky to make the practice squad. Players that size and who spent 3 years at a school with as high a profile as Texas A&M don't go undrafted if they have anything close to the skill to play in the NFL. Players that have the skills to play in the NFL don't fail to make an impact at schools such as Memphis. 

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