If you look at the team's roster of defensive tackles, you'll note that while there is a positive youth movement with guys like Geno Atkins and Pat Sims, there seems to be a declining impression with veterans Tank Johnson and Domata Peko; both constantly rated by Pro Football Focus as two of the team's worst rush defenders. Additionally, Peko and Johnson will make a combined $5.15 million in 2011, $5.425 million in 2012 and $5.55 million in 2013. Sims is entering the final year of his rookie contract with $555,000 in base salary due in 2011.
Based on cost against production alone, one has to suspect that Johnson or Peko won't be on the opening day roster in 2011 (whenever that is).
The team looking at Auburn's Nick Fairley or Alabama's Marcell Dareus could just be a matter of due-diligence. Or it could be an indication that the team is seriously considering both defensive tackles. Who knows.
However, Fairley appears to be falling out of the top-five while Dareus is consistently listed as the best defensive tackle prospect.
According to National Football Post's Wes Bunting, Fairley could be kept out of the top five, mostly because of immaturity issues.
Immaturity issues are the one real negative that keep popping up on his front, potentially keeping him out of the top five.
The team taking a defensive tackle in this year's draft shouldn't be surprising, especially if they view that the cost for Tank Johnson and Domata Peko is worth more than their production. In our view, Johnson would be the victim of a cost-savings cut while Peko sticks around.
That also brings another discussion. With Peko, Sims and Atkins, wouldn't drafting a defensive tackle with their fourth overall selection seem very unlikely? Rookie wage scale or not, the fourth overall selection will command money. And unless the team drafts a defensive tackle fourth overall with the intention of starting him, drafting Dareus or Fairley doesn't seem logical.