Originally posted on Bloguin Best  |  Last updated 1/21/12

1. Calais Campbell, DE - Arizona Cardinals

While Justin Smith is busily making a case for defensive MVP for himself with the San Francisco 49ers, the price tag for Calais Campbell just goes up and up. For a 3-4 DE, only Campbell can go sack for sack, tackle for tackle, disruption for disruption with Smith. Best of all, Campbell is only 25 years old, and just hitting his prime.

A quick comparison:

Smith: 58 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 48 QB pressures, 3 forced fumbles
Campbell: 77 tackles, 8 sacks, 29 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles

The 6'8" 300 lb terror is the key to the revitalized Arizona defense, which held opponents to 20 points or less in seven of their final nine games. The Cardinals won all seven to finish the year at 8-8. There is a good chance that they will franchise Campbell, but if they don't, he is capable of creating disruption in the opponent's interior, as a 3-4 DE or a 3-technique 4-3 DT. And if paired with an elite outside pass rusher, as Justin Smith is with Aldon Smith, he could transform a defense.

Likely suitors: Cardinals, Rams, Redskins, Dolphins, Falcons, or any team hurting for interior pressure.

1A. Mario Williams, DE/OLB - Houston Texans

Pass rushers are like belly buttons: are you an innie or an outie? (And if you liked that metaphor, stay tuned for my upcoming library of football-themed children's books: The Very Violent Caterpillar, Oh The People You'll Stomp (by Dr. Suhss), and Everybody Fumbles.)

Where Calais Campbell does his dirty work on the inside of the offensive line, Mario Williams wreaks havoc on the edge. He lines up as a defensive end in a 4-3 set, as he did to start his career, or as a linebacker in the 3-4 that Wade Phillips installed last year. The technique is different (a 3-4 backer usually starts from a two point stance, offset from the line) but the goal is the same: get to the quarterback.

And though he only played five games for the Texans this season, Williams (seemingly unleashed by the move to OLB) was doing exactly that, racking up five sacks and an astounding 17 pressures in five games. The only thing that slowed him down was a torn pectoral muscle, the same injury that felled Denver pass-rushing demon Elvis Dumervil two seasons ago.

It's hard to conceive of a situation where Houston would be willing to let Williams simply walk, when they can franchise him, but ironically the team's success without him may embolden the franchise to spend their money elsewhere. If he hits the open market, expect this 26-year-old sack monster to command a hefty paycheck.

Likely Suitors: Texans, Panthers, Bears, Raiders, Patriots, or just about any team that needs an edge rusher.

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