NFL free agents 2023: Ranking top 10 defensive linemen originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
In today's NFL, it's imperative for teams to have a defensive line that can keep the elite offenses in check. Without interior defensive linemen and edge rushers who can get into the backfield, there's virtually no chance of containing the top offensive teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles.
Fortunately for the teams lacking in that category, there is no shortage of options scheduled to become free agents in March. There are several available defensive linemen who can make an immediate impact, though the top options likely will cost a pretty penny. For some, it may be worth the price.
2023 NFL free agents: Top 25 overall | QB | RB | WR | TE | OL
Here are the top 10 defensive linemen set to hit the market this spring.
10. Sheldon Rankins, DT
2022 stats (Jets): 3.0 sacks, 43 tackles, 1 forced fumble
The Jets defense was a bright spot in 2022, and Rankins was right in the middle of it. He's a solid interior defender who should also be fairly affordable, which makes him an attractive option in what's set to be a booming defensive line market.
9. Fletcher Cox, DT
2022 stats (Eagles): 7.0 sacks, 43 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Cox's best days might be behind him, but the six-time Pro Bowler still has plenty in the tank. He proved that with seven sacks -- hist most since 2018 -- and 14 QB hits. After 11 seasons with the Eagles, it's hard to picture him in a new uniform next year.
8. Brandon Graham, EDGE
2022 stats (Eagles): 11.0 sacks, 35 tackles, two forced fumbles
Graham is proving age is just a number At age 34, he notched a career-high 11 sacks. The veteran edge rusher would be a huge get for any defense, but like with Cox, it's hard to picture him leaving Philadelphia at this point.
7. Zach Allen, DL
2022 stats (Cardinals): 5.5 sacks, 47 tackles
Allen had a strong 2022 season with the Cardinals and is only getting better with each year. He has racked up 9.5 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures, and 12 pass breakups over the last two seasons.
6. Dre'Mont Jones, DL
2022 stats (Broncos): 6.5 sacks, 47 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Jones excels as an interior pass-rusher and he put his talents on display in 2022, setting career-highs in quarterback pressures. His skill set will make him a hot commodity this spring.
5. Dalvin Tomlinson, DT
2022 stats (Vikings): 2.5 sacks, 42 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Tomlinson is stellar at stuffing the run and can hold his own as a pass-rusher as well. He has 55 tackles for loss or no gain since 2017, the third-highest mark among interior defensive linemen.
4. Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE
2022 stats (Colts): 9.5 sacks, 29 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Ngakoue isn't great against the run, but his status as an elite pass-rusher has helped to make up for those struggles. That should be the case in free agency as well.
3. Marcus Davenport, EDGE
2022 stats (Saints): 0.5 sacks, 29 tackles
Don't let Davenport's sacks -- or lack thereof -- fool you. He racked up 32 pressures in 2022. He's the top edge rusher in a weak free-agent class for the position.
2. Daron Payne, DT
2022 stats (Commanders): 11.5 sacks, 64 tackles
Payne enjoyed a career year with the Commanders, tallying 11.5 sacks to set himself up for a big payday. The 2018 first-rounder will look to prove, whether in Washington or elsewhere, that his stellar 2022 campaign was not an anamoly.
1. Javon Hargrave, DT
2022 stats (Eagles): 11.0 sacks, 60 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Hargrave has continued to be a force on the interior defensive line since joining Philadelphia in 2020. He set a career-high with 11 sacks last season and should continue to be one of the game's most disruptive defenders as he enters his 30s.
Honorable mentions: Jadeveon Clowney, Justin Houston, Poona Ford, David Onyemata, Robert Quinn.