The category of defense and special teams usually shouldn't be addressed until the final two rounds. There might be justification for taking a unit earlier, but only if, in your league, points are awarded for stats such as sacks and takeaways in addition to defensive scores and kick returns for TDs. Remember--the NFL ranks defenses by yards allowed, but you're most interested in the number of points they score, which informs the rankings below.
This is an article from the July 25, 2005 issue
Return game boosted with addition of Tim Dwight, Chad Morton
Bringing in vets Fred Smoot, Sam Cowart and Darren Sharper gives defense a lift
Rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson helps one of league's most porous defenses; and don't forget--you get return man Dante Hall in the deal
Eddie Drummond led NFL in punt returns (13.2 yards, two TDs) and was second in kickoff returns (26.6 yards, two TDs) in 2004
Unit allowed league-high 47.4% conversion rate on third down
|*defensive and special teams touchdowns|
Beware of 52 in the 46
First-year Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan learned the 46 scheme from the man who made it famous as a coach with the Bears--his father, Buddy--and now he'll use it to unleash a unit that features five Pro Bowl--caliber starters. The obvious beneficiary is middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who should relish playing behind a four-man front again after battling through traffic in the 3--4 the last three years. The only questions are whether Terrell Suggs, who had a total of 221/2 sacks in his first two years as a linebacker, can continue to produce when he lines up at end, and whether free-agent pickup Tommy Polley and rookie second-round draft pick Dan Cody can live up to expectations at outside linebacker. But those are minor issues for a unit that last year led the league lead in defensive touchdowns, with seven.