Paul Kruger stepped up as a major pass rush threat for the Super Bowl champion Ravens.
With free agency set to begin Tuesday, SI.com NFL experts Peter King, Chris Burke, Andrew Perloff and Tom Mantzouranis sat down with one mission: to draft teams out of the available free agents.
The rules were simple: it was a snake draft format, every starting position had to be filled, and restricted free agents were off limits. Each expert had to choose whether his team would play a 4-3 or 3-4 defense, and whether they were going to play three receivers or two with a fullback. Everything else was open to how each person wanted to build his team.
Below, Peter King offers an inside take on his team.
After weeks of exhausting homework and very late nights, putting aside everything in life except eating and Allagash White, here is how I built the powerhouse Free-Agent Team:
? I concentrated on the premier positions. I thought there was only one quarterback even slightly worthy of being an NFL starter, Matt Moore, so I over-picked him in the fourth round. I got my top-rated cornerback, Aqib Talib, and the third- or fourth-best in Pittsburgh's rising Keenan Lewis. My first-round pick was the best in-his-prime pass-rusher on the board, Baltimore's Paul Kruger. Thought I could get Sebastian Vollmer in the third round, but I got beaten to him, and so I settled for a meh left tackle, Sam Baker, down the line. Very happy to grab Detroit's Gosder Cherilus to play the right tackle. Quarterback, cornerback, pass rusher, tackle. I aimed high for all, and failed only at left tackle.
? I took chances on comers, particularly those who've been hidden by good players. Dallas' Victor Butler has a chance to be a good rush linebacker from the strong side, while Larry Grant never could get on the field behind the great inside linebackers in San Francisco.
? I love special teams, and I think I got the best punter (Shane Lechler) and kicker (Phil Dawson) on the market. Dawson was 13 of 13 from 40 yards and out last year, and Lechler's Lechler. Aging, but still capable of averaging 48 yards a boot.
? I'll score some points, and not just on long Dawson field goals. I have a flex-type player I love, Houston's fullback/H-back/slot man James Casey, who will play all over the map and do a good job protecting the relatively immobile Moore when he stays in to block. Reggie Bush has a year or two of impact left. Jared Cook's a bit of a tease at tight end, but he's young and solid. I'll need Brian Hartline to be my field-stretcher, which is a stretch obviously, but Hartline and Danny Amendola (136 catches, seven drops last year) will be sure-handed, and Hartline and Moore are already on the same page from their time in Miami together.
? I took a couple of chances on injured guys. Linebacker Daryl Smith (Jags) I have confidence in; safety Louis Delmas (Lions) I don't. Delmas has struggled mightily with knee injuries, and if he can ever play 16 games, he'd be the best player on my D. But I don't think he can.
INSIDE EACH TEAM: King | Burke | Perloff | Mantzouranis | Full results
FOLLOW THE EXPERTS: King | Burke | Perloff | Mantzouranis
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