The Eagles have invested a lot at the defensive tackle position in recent years. Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley were first-round picks and Trevor Laws, a second-round pick, was the team's top pick in 2008. Antonio Dixon was the No. 3 tackle last season and he was a rookie free agent who spent training camp with the Redskins. Defensive tackle is always a position the team will look to improve. Here are the best ones who are about to be available on the open market.
|1. Tony Brown, Tennessee Titans (RFA)
|The defensive tackle class took a big hit when a slew of 3-4 teams used the franchise tag on their nose tackles. That took away much of the high-end talent. Brown looks like the best available interior lineman. He's a three-year starter who has quietly developed into a very good player. He isn't huge, but plays the run well. Brown plays with good leverage and is tough for blockers to move off the ball. He can use a quick burst to get penetration and disrupt plays or pressure the passer. Brown had five sacks, three forced fumbles and 3.5 tackles-for-loss in 2009. He's likely to get a high tender.
|2. Barry Cofield, New York Giants (RFA)
|Cofield has started 63 games in his four years as a Giant. He is a quick, high motor guy. Cofield isn't a pass rusher. He only has 6.5 career sacks. He plays the run well and can be somewhat of a disruptive force. He did have three tackles-for-loss this past season. He is 6-4 and 306 pounds. Cofield is best suited to a one-gap scheme.
|3. Fred Robbins, New York Giants (UFA)
|The Giants other starting tackle is also a free agent. Robbins is interesting. He's about to turn 33 and you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. He is big at 6-4 and 317 pounds. Robbins actually looks bigger than that. He does a good job of pushing the pocket and getting to the quarterback. He has 18.5 sacks in the last four years. That is very good for a true defensive tackle. He only had two in 2009 so that brings us back to the question of whether he's a solid veteran or descending player. We'll find out what NFL teams think soon enough.
|4. Clifton Ryan, St. Louis Rams (RFA)
|Ryan is a good young player. He is a 4-3 nose tackle. He has excellent size at 6-3 and 324 pounds. He can eat up blocks and hold his ground. Ryan won't pressure the quarterback much at all (three career sacks). He can be quick off the ball and disruptive. Ryan led the Rams with 6.5 tackles-for-loss in 2009. He just turned 26 and has a bright future. The Rams will give him a high tender.
|5. Kedric Golston, Washington Redskins (RFA)
|Golston is an overachiever type. He makes a lot of hustle plays. Golston isn't athletically gifted or huge, but has become an effective starter. He is a solid run defender. He can pressure the quarterback, even coming up with the occasional sack. Golson is quick off the ball. He had three tackles-for-loss last year. He will turn 27 this spring and looks like a player still on the rise.
|6. Remi Ayodele, New Orleans Saints (RFA)
|Ayodele picked a good time to have a breakthrough year. 2009 was his first year as a starter and he helped the Saints win the Super Bowl. I was impressed with him. Ayodele has a short, thick build at 6-2 and 318 pounds. He plays the run well and is able to clog the middle of the line. He isn't much of a playmaker, but that's not his job. Ayodele does the dirty work and he's got no problem with that.
|7. Daniel Muir, Indianapolis Colts (RFA)
|I liked Muir a lot when he was coming out of college. He was an athletic guy with a good motor. It took him a couple of years and teams, but he finally became a starter for the Colts and played well in 2009. He has some size at 6-3 and 312 pounds. He tied for the team lead with three tackles-for-loss.
|8. Antonio Johnson, Indianapolis Colts (RFA)
|The top shelf players are gone. Ogunleye will turn 33 this summer and he's no longer a force off the left side. He is still good for five or six sacks a year, but isn't a consistent threat to get to the quarterback. Ogunleye could be a good band-aid for some team trying to develop a young player.
|9. Anthony Hargrove, New Orleans Saints (RFA)
|Very interesting player. Hargrove was a disruptive force for the Saints. In past years, he was a disruptive force off the field and that was killing his career. He was out of the league entirely in 2008. The Saints gave him another chance and Hargrove delivered. He was only a role player for them, but had five sacks, a forced fumble and 3.5 tackles-for-loss. That would be good for a starter, let alone a backup. I'm sure the Saints will try to keep him around.
|10. Jimmy Kennedy, Minnesota Vikings (UFA)
|Kennedy was once a top-10 pick. He didn't pan out as a starter, but has developed into an excellent role player since then. Some team could even look at him as a starter at this point. Kennedy is still a massive guy at 6-5 and 320 pounds. He was productive despite being a backup. Kennedy had three sacks and three tackles-for-loss in 2009. I'm sure the Vikings would love to keep him around as an insurance policy. They may have to deal with other teams this time around. Minnesota pulled him off the scrap heap, but he is now a solid player.
-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 7:53 a.m., March 3*