This is the sixth in our series of position-by-position rankings. It is a little different this season because we’re ranking the players before free agency starts and before rosters are set. We will adjust accordingly as we go along. On to an improved group of defensive linemen:
1. Richard Seymour, Oakland: He is the class of the division. He is aging, but he is still a brilliant player.
2. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City: He made great strides in 2010, his third NFL season. He had adjusted well to the 3-4, and he is the anchor to a young defense.
3. Tommy Kelly, Oakland: Kelly had his best NFL season in 2010, and he pairs very nicely with Seymour. He is tough when he is motivated.
4. Elvis Dumervil, Denver: Dumervil is back to end in a 4-3 after excelling in a 3-4 defense. He struggles against the run, but he is a force as a pass-rusher.
5. Lamarr Houston, Oakland: I really like this second-year player. He is a potential star.
6. Antonio Garay, San Diego: Garay had a terrific season in 2010. He is a tremendous nose tackle.
7. Luis Castillo, San Diego: Castillo is a solid player, but I’d like to see more impact plays.
8. Matt Shaughnessy, Oakland: He’s another fine young player for Oakland. He has made the most of his opportunities.
9. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City: Jackson has been just so-so. This is a huge season for the No. 3 overall pick of the 2009 draft.
10. Corey Liuget, San Diego: The No. 18 overall pick of the 2011 draft will start at end, and he will get a chance to make an immediate impact.
11. Wallace Gilberry, Kansas City: He’s an underrated player. He can get sacks in bunches.
12. John Henderson, Oakland: He is aging, but he can still help Oakland as a run stuffer.
13. Robert Ayers, Denver: This is a big season for Ayers, the No. 18 pick in 2009. New coach John Fox likes him, so he’ll get a chance to start.
14. Trevor Scott, Oakland: Scott has a chance to be very good. He has natural pass-rushing ability.
15. Ron Edwards, Kansas City: He’s steady. The Chiefs want more help at tackle, but Edwards is OK.
16. Shaun Smith, Kansas City: The Chiefs need to bring him back. He can make an impact.
17. Marcus Thomas, Denver: Denver wants this free agent back.
18. Allen Bailey, Kansas City: The Chiefs are very excited about this third-round pick. He could play right away.
19. Kevin Vickerson, Denver: Denver re-signed him in March.
20 Vaughn Martin, San Diego: It’s time for this project to make a move.
21. Cam Thomas, San Diego: The Chargers still have high hopes for this second-year player.