We’re back for the third installment of our 2019 NFL free agency preview. We’ll be taking a look at the players ranked between 15 and 11 on our list.
This portion of the list features five defensive players and when you read the names listed below I’m sure you’ll see why.
15. S LaMarcus Joyner
In my last article, I mentioned that the 2019 NFL free agency is loaded with safety talent. LaMarcus Joyner is the second safety to be included in the top 25 and should draw some attention this offseason thanks in part to Wade Philips.
In five years with the Rams, Joyner has only been able to stay healthy for one 16-game season. The former Florida State Seminole struggled early in his career as the coaching staff tried to convert Joyner into their starting nickleback. Joyner never really performed well in this role.
In 2017, the Rams brought in a new coaching staff and defensive coordinator Wade Philips decided to try Joyner out at free safety. With a new role and Philip’s scheme, Joyner enjoyed the best year of his NFL career and the Los Angeles Rams placed their franchise tag on him.
According to Pro Football Reference, Joyner has started all 14 games and recorded one interception, one fumble recovery, one sack, and 55 tackles this season.
14. DT Sheldon Richardson
The 2019 NFL free agency also has a strong interior defensive lineman class. While Sheldon Richardson may have lost a step or two since his early days with the New York Jets, he can still be very disruptive and can often be found in the opponents’ backfields.
Richardson will be 28 years old when the 2019 NFL season starts and is sure to be an attractive option for teams looking for a player that can both pressure a quarterback from the interior and line up in various spots depending on the formation.
In 14 games with the Minnesota Vikings, Richardson has put up 24 solo tackles, 4.5 sacks, six tackles for a loss, and 16 QB hits according to Pro Football Reference.
13. S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
If I had to describe Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in one word I’d choose “ballhawk”. Since being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2014, Clinton-Dix has 14 interceptions, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Not only does Clinton-Dix have a nose for the ball, but he also has proven to be extremely durable starting a remarkable 72 straight regular season games.
While the Washington Redskins may do everything in their power to keep him in town, Clinton-Dix will be one of the top defensive back available if he makes it to the open market.
12. LB Preston Smith
If you aren’t familiar with Preston Smith you should learn the name. In 2017, he led the NFL with the highest pass rush pressure rate according to data collected by the NFL via Next Gen Stats. That’s right. A higher pressure rate than Demarcus Lawrence, Aaron Donald, or any of the other elite pass rushers your thinking of.
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) February 6, 2018
Smith has posted a modest 3.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, and 16 QB hits in 14 games for Washington this season. For his career, Smith has 24 sacks, four forced fumbles, 101 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss, and 59 QB hits according to Pro Football Reference.
While Smith excels at setting the edge and getting after quarterbacks, he does have the skill set to be successful in pass coverage. He has four interceptions and 13 passes defended in his career.
At the start of the 2019 season, Smith will be 26 years old. His youth combined with his pass rushing skills are sure to get attention from teams around the league if he makes it to the free agency.
11. DE Brandon Graham
Last but certainly not least is Brandon Graham. While Graham is a little older than some of the other defensive ends that’ll appear high in the list, he is still one of the league’s best all-around ends.
Graham had the best season of his NFL career in 2017 with 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and 15 tackles for loss helping the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl. 2018 hasn’t been quite as productive for Graham who has four sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and 10 QB hits in 14 games according to Pro Football Reference.
Graham has played for the Eagles since they drafted him in the first round out of the University of Michigan back in 2010. Considering his history with the franchise it is hard to imagine that we won’t see Graham in an Eagles uniform in 2019, however, if he decides to test the market it’s likely he will draw plenty of suitors next offseason.
That will do it for part three of our five-part series previewing the top 25 players that could be available in the 2019 NFL free agency. Make sure to check out parts four and five to see which players are included in the top 10.
In case you missed it here is a brief recap of the players ranked 25 through 16 in the 2019 NFL free agency:
25. RB Kareem Hunt
24. OT Daryl Williams
23. WR Golden Tate
22. OT Trent Brown
21. CB Ronald Darby
20. CB Bradley Roby
19. DE Ezekiel Ansah
18. C Matt Paradis
17. S Tyrann Mathieu
16. DT Ndamukong Suh
You can read more about each player by clicking the link below: