Aaron Kampman parlayed a very good season into a great contract. The former Iowa star is one of the most instinctive defensive ends in the NFL, but he lacks the speed and burst to be a top pass rusher. That said, he’s still capable of bettering his 6.5 sacks of a year ago if Al Harris and Charles Woodson have big years in the secondary. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila has 57 sacks over the past 79 games, but he’s not nearly as dangerous as those numbers suggest. The 28-year-old tends to get engulfed by bigger tackles and has trouble disengaging once reached off the edge. KGB works hard against the run, but there’s only so much he can do at barely 250 pounds. Mike Montgomery showed some real promise as a rookie and is being counted on to be the No. 3 end. The former Texas A&M star has the size to spell Gbaja-Biamila on early downs. Kenny Peterson can play either end or tackle, but there’s a greater need for him outside. And while he’s probably never going to live up to his potential, he does provide decent depth. Seventh-round pick Dave Tollefson lacks strength and won’t be a factor in ’06. Undrafted rookies Montez Murphy and Jason Hunter are impressive athletes who easily pass the eyeball test, and both flashed enough in the spring to merit a closer look this summer.
Ryan Pickett signed a $14 million contract as a free agent in March. His consistently strong play was often overlooked during the Rams wretched ’05 season. The former Ohio State standout isn’t quite as disruptive as Grady Jackson, but unlike his predecessor at nose tackle, he’s capable of staying on the field for more than a handful of snaps at a time. Three-year vets Corey Williams and Cullen Jenkins will likely battle for the starting job at defensive tackle. Williams, who suffered through an injury-plagued 2005, has all the tools to be a very good player. Think of Cletidus Hunt with a brain and a heart. Jenkins is too small to hold up against the run on a consistent basis, but he has enough quickness to make the occasional big stop behind the line of scrimmage. He can also slip through creases as an inside pass rusher. Colin Cole keeps getting better and should provide quality depth on the nose for a second straight season. Rookie Johnny Jolly was slowed by a bad ankle during the spring and the coaches are anxious to see him in training camp. The sixth-round draft choice plays physically and is very strong. Kenderick Allen wore out his welcome with the Giants due to constant weight problems and an unwillingness to work. The Packers are hoping that his demise in New York will serve as a wake-up call. The 27-year-old has the potential to help. Undersized Jerome Nichols had some success in Europe and then flashed as a pass rusher in the OTAs.