The countdown to the 2023 NFL Draft is upon us. Hopefully, you’ve done the research, read the profiles, watched some highlights and tape, and are now prepared to head into your rookie drafts.
For those who play in IDP leagues, landing spots for defensive players may be just as vital as offensive players. Landing spots can make a big difference in playing time and productivity, as there is a wide range of factors to consider when projecting teams.
Looking at depth charts can be a bit overwhelming, but there are teams who need immediate starting help. This is particularly a deep group of cornerbacks with a solid group of safeties, so if your league separates defensive backs into specific positions, there might be some good players in this group for you.
In these articles, we look at the ideal landing spots for the IDPs you should target in your rookie drafts.
Jalen Carter, DT Georgia
Ideal landing spot: Philadelphia Eagles
The Bulldogs have produced some excellent defensive line prospects in recent years. Jordan Davis, Travon Walker, and Devonte Wyatt were all coveted in the 2022 draft, yet Carter may have more upside than all of them.
His defensive line coach at Georgia told The Athletic that Carter possesses a combination of the best traits of Davis and Wyatt, referring to his ability to contribute as both a capable run-stopper and disruptive force on passing downs.
I’m skeptical of pre-draft praise from college coaches, but Scott isn’t far off the mark. Carter has powerful hands, his first step is almost unfair for a man of his size, and his lateral quickness has not been overstated.
Jalen Carter – Defensive Tackle
“Has an impressive first step and always leaves the blocker off guard.” –@NFLDraftBuzzz
— Craig McMichael (@mcmicha7) February 28, 2023
Carter’s charge for reckless driving and racing is extremely concerning. His poor conditioning at his pro day raises further concerns about his maturity and motivation. Hopefully, Carter can prove he possesses the necessary focus to become a professional.
The Eagles would be a great landing spot. Javon Hargrave exited in free agency, Fletcher Cox isn’t getting any younger, Milton Williams is unproven, and Jordan Davis has yet to prove he can be a three-down player.
Bryan Bresee, DT Clemson
Ideal landing spot: New Orleans Saints
Bresee is a menace when he’s on his game. He moves exceptionally well for a 6’5″, 300 lb lineman when tasked with rushing the passer as a 3-technique. Still, some of his most productive games came during the final games of 2022 when he predominantly lined up outside the tackle, providing optimism that he can be scheme diverse.
His blend of power and athleticism can be downright scary. He explodes through gaps, creates havoc with counter moves, and has an underused spin move that makes offensive linemen appear pedestrian.
2020 Bryan Bresee hitting the outside spin on 2nd & 11 to pressure Ian Book vs. Notre Dame pic.twitter.com/dKjLYvOCtv
— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) April 14, 2023
Unfortunately, Bresee has been beset with adversity during his college career. He played through the tragic loss of his sister to cancer in 2022 and missed significant time due to several injuries – most notably an ACL injury in 2021. We must consider these factors when considering what may be perceived as slightly underwhelming college production.
I don’t think Bresee will be on the board when the Saints pick at 29, but I would love this fit. David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle exited in free agency, vacating over 1200 snaps at the position. Khalen Saunders joined from the Kansas City Chiefs, but Saunders is nothing special.
Joe Woods’ arrival as the Saints’ new defensive coordinator would benefit Bresee. Woods tends to deploy his DTs in the B gap while also allowing them to line up over the tackle, which would play to Bresee’s strengths.
Calijah Kancey, DT Pittsburgh
Ideal landing spot: Los Angeles Rams
At only 6’1″ and 281 lbs, Kancey may not have the broad appeal of some of the other DTs listed here. He’s too light to be a good fit in every scheme, and his lack of length suggests that adding additional weight may be a problem.
However, Kancey can be a force against the pass, combining an excellent first step with quickness, lateral agility, and a knack for surprising slow-footed offensive guards with the kind of burst that has drawn comparisons to Pitts’ most famous DT alumnus Aaron Donald.
Calijah Kancey is gonna get endless comps to Aaron Donald, and there ARE plays on tape where it makes a lot of sense:pic.twitter.com/KPWZDz4eh6
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 6, 2023
Kancey’s IDP value is more contingent on his landing spot than any other player in this article. The Saints may be a good fit, but how could I pass up the opportunity to pair him with Donald in L.A.? Greg Gaines and his 700+ snaps departed in free agency, so there’s a need there. Just don’t expect immediate fireworks.
Siaki Ika, DT Baylor
Ideal landing spot: New York Giants
Ika offers a very different skill set from the likes of Kancey. The 335 lb colossus is adept in the run game, demonstrating the power, handwork, and anchor to effectively control the point of attack. His experience in handling double teams will prove beneficial.
Unfortunately, the 22-year-old offers little as a pass rusher. Ika’s tape shows he has impressive athleticism and adequate burst considering how heavy he is, but it didn’t show up at the combine, where he performed poorly in agility drills.
It’s slightly concerning that Ika’s role was reduced in 2022, but this point is somewhat overstated. He averaged 39 snaps in 2021, and that dropped to only 35 in 2022. However, his pressure rate and sack totals decreased, and that lack of statistical progression lends weight to existing concerns about his ability to contribute in multiple ways.
The Giants would be a good home for Ika. Initially, he may struggle to see the field, but I cannot see a single landing spot where he would see a healthy volume of snaps in his rookie season, barring injury to others. Learning from and playing behind the likes of Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams would present a great opportunity and may be best for his long-term value.
Mazi Smith, DT Michigan
Ideal landing spot: Miami Dolphins
Smith is a big guy at 6’3″, 323 lbs, and it shows in his style of play. He’s a force against the run, taking on double teams and stuffing gaps by driving weaker blockers off the ball, collapsing the pocket, and enabling teammates to make plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Trying to wrap up Sam LaPorta, but I can’t take my eyes off Mazi Smith. pic.twitter.com/bapXWaWNzN
— Stoney Keeley (@StoneyKeeley) April 9, 2023
Unfortunately, he lacks the pass-rush potential of the other guys listed here. Smith flashes quickness for his size but doesn’t do so consistently. His first step is questionable, and he’s too reliant on using power to beat offensive linemen.
From a dynasty perspective, Smith’s best landing spot is a team who will feature him in a two-down capacity early in his career, allowing him the time to develop the tools he needs as a pass rusher.
The Dolphins would make a good landing spot for Smith. Raekwon Davis spent more time in the A gap than any other DT except the Giants’ Dexter Lawrence, and Davis’ current contract expires after 2023. However, it remains to be seen whether new Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio utilizes a similar scheme to his predecessor.