Oh, the age-old question, how does a DST who ranked in 4th place in 2019 improve? Answer: by arming themselves to the teeth with defensive players.
A relatively successful year for the 2019 Ravens DST was not good enough for the Baltimore front office. Yes, most defensive units have improved this offseason with the odd veteran and rookie or two. In Baltimore’s case, John Harbaugh decided to gold plate an already stellar defensive unit.
After a tough playoff loss to Tennesse’s Derrick Henry led ground and pound assault, Baltimore is taking no chances this time around. The coaching staff have decided to enter their Superbowl window, adding a plethora of weapons. Free agency brought former Sacksonville mayor Calais Campbell and ex-Bronco Derek Wolfe. Beefing up a frontline decimated by the Titans charge.
Yet, it was draft night that truly bolstered the Ravens DST. 6 of the 10 rookie picks play on the defensive side of the ball. An already strong unit became downright frightening.
Early round highlights included: stud Linebacker Patrick Queen, big lineman Justin Madubuike and Ohio’s uber-physical Malik Harrison. Convinced yet?
As impressive as the 2019 season was for the DST, there were some glaring holes in the unit. The Derrick Henry highlight reel aside, they finished with a paltry 13 sacks on the year. The top two DSTs both finished with 20+. Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe will be itching to hit AFC North Quarterbacks.
Baltimore fans have been blessed with a smart front office that draft well and remove weaknesses almost instantly. This year, they demonstrated just how clever they are. Experience, youth and depth have all joined the corps. Grab them cheap before everyone else realises how punishing they will be.
No, this is not a typo. I am confidently recommending the 27th ranked defence in 2019 as a top option for 2020. Strap in and get ready for a bold take.
As poor as the 2019 season was for L.A.s second team, the final ranking was a not a true indication of a strong DST. Whisper “Joey Bosa” and watch the AFC West Quarterbacks squirm. Fellow frontline soldier Melvin Ingram relishes mopping up any scraps available behind the OL.
On the back end, the absence of Derwin James was a huge hole in the Chargers secondary. After a foot injury in August, James did not return until the last 5 games of the season. The secondary struggled without the former 1st round pick manning the deep field. In 2020, Chargers fans are set to enjoy a full season from the IDP lynchpin.
In addition to healthy superstars, Los Angeles added a solid wave of veterans to the likely 52. Man mountain Linval Joseph will add even more weight to the impressive defensive line. Ex-Bronco Chris Harris Jr. brings further experience to the high-upside secondary.
Though their draft day may not have been a blockbuster extravaganza, the addition of Kenneth Murray will have rivals reeling. The Oklahoma product was ranked as the number 1 Linebacker on countless draft boards. Find me a tastier sandwich than Murray patrolling between Bosa and James.
Simply put, the Chargers defence is not a #27th ranked outfit. At least on paper. An injury-free year for the studs, the solid free-agent additions and a certain Kenneth Murray scream top 5 DST. If everything pans out you could end the season looking the smartest person in your draft room. Who doesn’t want that?
I get it, Kanas City’s placing on this list is borderline cheating. Yet, the 8th ranked DST in 2019 were arguably the weakest part of the Superbowl winning franchise.
The Chiefs finished 5th in interceptions, 8th in defensive touchdowns and 11th in sacks. Honey Badger, Frank Clark and co. certainly provided enough backing to allow the offence to ascend into championship status.
Despite finishing 8th in total scoring there are some obvious areas for improvement for the defence. Sadly, bottom 10 fumble recoveries and bottom 14 forced fumbles blocked the DST from a top 5 finish. The respectable 8 PPG would have had most owners fairly content with the unit. In 2020 however, Kansas could be a league winner.
A tepid free agency saw them trim a handful of underperforming defensive players and keep the important ones. Chris Jones was tagged and Breshaud Breeland was re-signed to uphold the productive secondary.
However, Andy Reids most important move came during draft night. Joining the Chargers in rookie Linebacker heaven, the Chiefs snagged the highly rated Willie Gay Jr. late in the 2nd round. Gay strolls into a starting berth in a weak Linebacker room and looks to elevate the DST to greater heights. The AFC West can no longer enjoy the freedom of the middle field at Arrowhead.
As teammates reach for the New England Patriots and San Francisco, avoid overpaying and grab some value. Kansas will be available for a fair price and have a solid top 10 floor. Couple that safety with a revamped sky-high ceiling and that championship ring now suddenly looks within reach.
Grab these guys a round earlier than the last two rounds if your league has higher scoring system and they might just get you over the line.