Left defensive end, Juqua Parker is a good football player but they’ve got to get more production out of that position. Parker was a solid contributor this year by playing in 13 games and finished with twenty-two tackles and six sacks. He shouldn’t be the starter and number one contributor at this position. He’ll be 33 years old next year, but don’t be surprised if he’s still around.
First round draft pick Brandon Graham showed some promise as a pass rusher, but I don’t think he’s a three-down player. He registered three sacks and a big one against the Niners to help win the football game. Graham had a total of 13 tackles and played in 13 games.
He didn’t have an answer for the huge arm length advantage of the big offensive lineman he was facing. He didn’t seem to have the size and technique to hold up again drive blocks on running plays. He looked more like a third down pass rusher.
Trent Cole started the season like a ball of fire then he wore down in mid season and was missing during the playoff game. There’s no question that the Birds have to reduce the number of plays he’s on the field. If they want him fresh and contributing as a pass rusher all season long.
He should be on the field all the time in pass situations, but they should sit him down during parts of games in run situations. Cole has an incredible motor when he’s fresh. He was second on the team in tackles this season with 65. He led the defense with ten sacks.
Darryl Tapp has proven to be a solid backup, who contributed three sacks in the regular season and one big sack in he playoffs. I don’t see him as a starter or top third down pass rusher for a good playoff team.
I can’t say conclusively that Daniel Te’o Nesheim can be a starter in this league. He looked overmatched in training camp and he hasn’t done much since to prove otherwise. He played in six games, contributed two tackles and registered one sack.
At the defensive tackle position, the Birds need to get bigger. Antonio Dixon was the best thing to happen to the defensive line in 2010.
He’s the biggest defensive tackle the Birds have on the roster and he’s also their best defensive tackle. Former number one draft picks Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley are solid players, but not standouts.
Bunkley played in 14 games, contributed 20 tackles and didn’t get a single sack all season long. Patterson played in 15 games, contributed 37 tackles and registered 3 sacks.
They aren’t difference-makers, which means the Birds should add another big defensive tackle and start saying good-bye to the two first round draft picks who never became anything more than average players.
Trevor Laws showed tremendous improvement, but he’s still a backup and third-down pass rusher. He was stronger and quicker this year and it helped him to lead the defensive tackles with four sacks. He played in 14 games and tallied 14 tackles.
The success of two castoffs indicts the players, coaches and player personnel people who put together this defensive line.
Castoff defensive end Jason Babin went to Tennessee garnered 13 sacks and made the Pro Bowl. Another castoff defensive end Chris Clemons went to Seattle and promptly led the Seahawks in sacks with 11. He’ll be playing this week, as the Birds defensive line goes on vacation.