Hey guys, the last post I talked about another less pressing position of need at TE. Though it won't be detrimental to the progress of the team if we don't sign or draft one it was still interesting to look at possible options that could make the team better. The next position that we'll look at is one that I believe is vital to the continued development of Jimmy Clausen and Tony Pike and that the O-Line. Let's face it, though our line finally started to gel and get into a rhythm at the end of the season the drop off in talent and execution was massive. Losing key players on the line like Keydrick Vincent was a big blow to the offensive line and it showed us how important those veteran players really were. Last season we had depth problems along with problems with the starting line up. We lost Jeff Otah even before the beginning of TC with a scoped knee and some believe he was keeping another undisclosed injury away from the media. That alone was a huge blow for us and the fact that a majority of the o-line become revolving doors when blocking made it even worse. Jordon Gross came back after a broken leg at the end of 2009 and didn't look the same drawing many holding and false-start penalties ultimately nullifying many positive gains from both Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen. A majority of the O-line free agents are already in their early to mid 30s but there are a few free agents that would be interesting to look at and even sign. We'll take a look at them after the jump.
Vincent was a huge part of the O-Line that helped make Double Trouble an almost unstoppable force during his time here. He is currently with the Buccaneers and is a FA this season and with so many players for the Bucs to sign it's understandable if they let Vincent test FA first. He was a big body lineman that can get a push on most D-Lines and is an excellent run/pass blocker. Very athletic for his size and is a reliable team player doesn't crumble under pressure. With having to block someone like Julius Peppers for the years he was here it served him well and he developed into a very stout reliable blocker. It was a shame when he was let go, but it would be a HUGE sign if we could pry him away from the Bucs and, I for one, would welcome him back with open arms just like when Moose was re-signed after his stint in Chicago.
Joseph is a very important part of the Bucs O-Line along with Vincent and is also a FA this season. Joseph is a very big, physical Lineman that has had experience playing at Guard and Tackle in both college and the Pro level. He is a very good run blocking Guard with adequate skills at pass blocking, although he has improved his pass blocking this past season. Joseph is a very talented player that would greatly improve our O-Line play and give us an extra push to keep the pocket intact and dig down in the trenches and help running game immensely. Many don't expect him to be let go by the Bucs but, like Vincent and many others, there may be too many FA that need to be signed and I believe that the Bucs will also let Joseph test the waters in free agency. Though don't expect to get Joseph without a fight from Tampa Bay. In the end, Joseph is too valuable an O-Lineman not to take a good look at him.
Greco is a very strong powerful offensive Tackle for the St. Louis Rams. When he was drafted by the Rams in 2008 was one of the strongest offensive linemen in the draft bench pressing 420 lbs and having a leg press of 1,050 lbs. And although strength isn't everything in an O-Lineman he has proven that he is a very talented run blocker. As a freshman he started at right tackle and had 36 starts in college at both the tackle and guard position. He had 34 touchdown-resulting blocks in college and only allowed 6 sacks in two years which also proves that he is a competent pass blocker as well. Greco is the type of Lineman that can either start or provide great depth at a position that many argue needs a major overhaul. St. Louis most likely will re-sign him seeing as they need all the help they can get out of their O-Line to keep Bradford upright, but either way he'd be a solid, reliable sign if we could get him to play in Carolina.
Essex would be another interesting sign if Pittsburg were to let him walk into FA. Essex had a slow start to his career, but had a strong finish at the end of the 2008 season. He's won two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers and filled in admirably on the road to the their Super Bowl XLIII loss to the Green Bay Packers. Essex is a better pass blocker than a run blocker, but is a reliable option to have in case one of our starting O-Linemen were to go down. He would provide, once again, much needed depth at the position and be able to come in and easily fill in and not miss a beat. Essex is more of a depth sign, but he would be a solid sign nonetheless.
Kalii is the anchor to the O-Line for the Carolina Panthers. An undersized, and often under-appreciated center, he's been a phenomenal addition to the Panthers O-Line. He's been the constant in a year where we were shuffling around the O-Line left and right trying to find the perfect combination and better the protection for rookie QB Jimmy Clausen. 2010 was his second straight year being voted to the Pro Bowl, although he was a second alternate in 2009 and a first alternate in 2010. When he did play though, he made us panther fans proud and showed why he's such an important part of our team. It is vital that we re-sign Kalil if we want to see any consistency on the offensive line and ensure that we'll keep whoever the QB is in 2011 upright .