This was a very difficult ranking and not because of all the top-notch talent. Actually, this group is not very deep and it includes several unknown commodities. It may become a strong group, but right now, this unit as a whole is a big question mark in the AFC West.
1. Richard Seymour, Oakland: Seymour is, by far, the best defensive lineman in this division. It’s not even close. Still, Seymour, who is entering his second season in Oakland, has plenty to prove. Seymour, 30, has to show he is still in his prime and he can bounce back from an inconsistent first season in Oakland.
2. Luis Castillo, San Diego: Castillo is a nice player. But he probably should be the second-best defensive lineman in a division. He’s solid, not great.
3. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City: This was tough. I guess I still believe in Dorsey. But he has to show more in this third NFL season. He was expected to be much better than he has shown so far.
4. Jacques Cesaire, San Diego: A solid journeyman. He should be lower on this list next year if other players develop as expected.
5. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City: Like Dorsey, Jackson has to show up better than his rookie season. He was nowhere near as productive as the No. 3 overall pick is expected to be. But he’s a hard worker and he should make strides in his second season.
6. Justin Bannan, Denver: This free-agent pickup is underrated. He’s versatile and he knows how to play winning football.
7. Jamal Williams, Denver: The former Charger may be on his last leg. But until he hangs it up, this massive nose tackle has to be respected.
8. Tommy Kelly, Oakland: Kelly is a big, well-paid man. But he is an underachiever.
9. Lamarr Houston, Oakland: Houston was drafted in the second round this year to help Oakland’s terrible run defense. The tackle looks like he will be very active.
10. Jarvis Green. Denver: This free-agent pickup is a decent pro. He’ll help Denver.
11. Vaughn Martin, San Diego: The second-year player is an interesting prospect. He is very raw, but talented.
12. Cam Thomas, San Diego: I like this fifth-round steal. Expect him to get a chance to replace Williams right away.
13. Wallace Gilberry, Kansas City: This is a diamond in the rough. Gilberry is a project who has nice pass-rush skills.