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Mailbag: One Move To Upgrade The Entire Defense?


Are we dismissing the pros of drafting a big defensive tackle in the first round too quickly? I realize it is not a premium position but might be ideal if we trade back. I think this could upgrade our entire defense, solidifying the middle against the run. I don't think there is another single position by itself that could drastically improve the whole defense as much. Thoughts? — DAN RITCH / RAMSTEIN

Rob: Well, defensive tackle hasn't been a popular mock pick at No. 10 because it's not a particularly deep position this year. But I agree that adding another disruptive interior lineman is arguably the biggest need on the team right now. Would go a long way toward fixing the run defense, which was the unit's biggest issue last year. Plus, having a good middle rush is just as vital as edge pressure because you're preventing quarterbacks from stepping up in the pocket.

Jonny: I'm always open to the idea of drafting to the defensive line in the first round. The right player at DT levels up the defense, like you said. But there are only so many of those guys in the league, so the question is whether you see one at 10. I think I'd feel better about that proposition with an offensive tackle, who can potentially be a pillar for the team for years beyond this one.

It appears that Zack Martin can play any position on the line and do well. Why not have him be the fill-in for every spot, and when there are no injuries he goes back to right guard? — TIMOTHY BEHAN / WATERTOWN, NY

Rob: I agree that Martin can probably play any position at a high level, but he's arguably the best guard in the league. Moving him all over the place isn't a very realistic plan. (In "Madden," sure, you can plug your best backup lineman into any spot and be fine.) I do think moving Martin to right tackle was the right move last year, but making him the primary backup center, too? At some point, even a player of his caliber performs best when his range of responsibilities is narrowed.

Jonny: I mean, to an extent, yes. But I think that sort of short-changes now great he is at right guard. It's definitely worth noting that he can fill in at tackle, but whether or not you put him there depends on the competency of your backup. Because however serviceable he is there, he's better at guard, so you'd rather him be at guard if you believe someone can fill in instead. Obviously a backup has to fill in at right guard every time moves.

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