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In the first article of this series, we talked about linebackers. In part two, we are turning our attention to the defensive line. Below are three contract-year edge-rushers and one contract-year interior defensive lineman who are looking to make their case for lucrative deals when the offseason gets here. These motivated defensive linemen could also provide some solid IDP production at a nice value along the way. Alright, let's dive in!
*This ADP is courtesy of The IDP Show and is pulled from paid best ball drafts (40 and counting) that began in January.
Carl Granderson, DE, New Orleans Saints
Considering how quiet Carl Granderson's first three seasons in New Orleans were, his 2022 campaign was a nice surprise. During the 2022 season, Granderson set career-highs in tackles (53), sacks (5.5), and tackles for loss (9). Granderson also played a career-high in defensive snaps (479), matching his 45% snap share from 2021. However, that doesn't quite tell the whole story. After a slow start to the year, it was Granderson's strong finish to last season that aided those new career marks. Over Granderson's last eight games, he logged all four of his starts and carried a 59.6% snap share. Granderson made good use of his added snaps, producing 39 tackles (21 solos), six tackles for loss, and five of his five-and-half sacks over that eight-game stretch. The coaching staff favored Granderson over former first-round picks Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner down the stretch, and he delivered.
Enter the 2023 season. The Saints have a new defensive coordinator in Joe Woods, and Marcus Davenport (490 snaps in 2022) has moved on to Minnesota during free agency. During OTAs, it was Granderson bookending Cameron Jordan with the starters in the Saints' 4-3 base setup. Players like the often-injured Payton Turner, newly-extended Tanoh Kpassagnon, and second-round rookie Isaiah Foskey will all be vying for snaps within the Saints' defensive line rotation. However, the starting job and majority shareholder of the rotation looks to be Granderson's job to lose. Granderson, a former undrafted free agent, is entering a pivotal contract year with his eyes set on a lucrative new deal after his strong 2022 finish. With his potential starting role and increased opportunity, Granderson is an excellent late-round pick coming off the board as DL60.
Marcus Davenport, DE, Minnesota Vikings
Marcus Davenport has frustrated both Saints fans and IDP managers alike since being drafted 14th overall in 2018. It was a slow first two seasons for Davenport before we saw a glimpse of his talent during the 2021 season. Davenport played in 11 games (9 starts) during that 2021 campaign, holding a 64% snap share (437 snaps) and boasting a solid 14.1% pressure rate, per PFF. In those 11 games, Davenport had far and away his best statistical production, compiling 39 tackles (23 solos), nine tackles for loss, nine sacks, and 16 quarterback hits. Unfortunately, the frustration came roaring back last season. Davenport played in 15 games (9 starts), producing a meager 29 tackles (16 solos), two tackles for loss, and only a half sack. Not great, not great at all.
Heading into 2023, Davenport has a new opportunity and a new team, signing a one-year $13 million deal with Minnesota during free agency. With Za'Darius Smith (771 snaps in 2022) now in Cleveland, Davenport will bookend Danielle Hunter in new defensive coordinator Brian Flores' defense. As our own Tripp Brebner excellently explained in his Reading the New Defense series, Flores' aggressive scheme should allow Davenport to see fewer double teams in Minnesota. Davenport should have every opportunity to revert to the player we saw wreaking havoc two years ago. And if not now, it likely won't happen. The new opportunity and change of scenery might just be what Davenport needs to get back on track. Davenport is a gamble, but given his DL52 ADP, IDP gamers can stash him on their bench and see if he can flourish with his new opportunity.
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