The Green Bay Packers have a need to fill at 3-4 defensive end. Between the departure of Cullen Jenkins and the health problems of Mike Neal, the Packers' defense struggled up front in 2011. Even though B.J. Raji performed very well, Ryan Pickett performed competently and Jarius Wynn exceeded expectations, there was definitely something missing on the defensive line. Enter Kendall Langford, who the Packers are interested in according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Langford is a free agent who hasn't missed a game in his four years with the Miami Dolphins. He was drafted in the third round in 2008, and at 6'6". 295 pounds with a sub-5 second 40 time, he's a prototype 3-4 defensive end. He seems to fit the Packers' character-first philosophy as well. Said Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, "Very good run player, dependable, never been late to a meeting, never had one angry word with a coach."
On the surface, he doesn't look like a guy who is going to solve the Packers' pass-rushing woes, but he might be a better pass rusher than his zero sacks in 2011 indicate. I asked my friend Chris Nelson of The Miami Dolphins Spotlight about Langford and he had good things to say.
"Langford isn't flashy but he's a quality defensive end in the 3-4 scheme. He's coming off his least productive season but hasn't missed a game in four pro years, so he comes with a ton of experience. He's a better rusher than his sack numbers indicate and he's stout against the run, making him a very complete and quality starter. His 25 QB pressures in 2011 was fifth among 3-4 DEs, so even though he had no sacks in 2011, he can disrupt the QB."
Even if Langford isn't going to be a superstar, he would probably represent an upgrade over Wynn and C.J. Wilson. Between Mike Neal's constant injuries and his PED suspension, I'm not sure whether or not he should even be taken into consideration when evaluating potential free agents or draft picks on the defensive line. Chris also mentioned to me that he hopes the Dolphins retain Langford at a reasonable price, and they might have a chance to. Pro Football Talk reported today that he left his visit with the Cincinnati Bengals without a contract, and that he's moving on to visit with the St. Louis Rams. Whether it's that zero sack number or something we don't know about, the market for Langford doesn't appear to be particularly strong.
Of course, there are some taking the cynical view. Monty at Total Packers sees this as a PR move from the team, and figures that Langford's agent is trying to drum up interest in his client.
This is probably the PR move we were talking about earlier. The Packers vaguely express interest in someone just to keep the fan base energized. We're pretty sure the organization floated the story or told Langford's agent to float it as a win-win. The Packers look like they're doing something and Langford has another team "interested" to drive up his price.
At this point, Ted Thompson has earned the benefit of the doubt. If the Packers don't add a 3-4 end in free agency or the NFL draft, there will be cause for concern, but that time is a long way off. Whether or not the Packers' interest is real in this situation, this is one where I'm going to blindly follow like a sheep. He's a good player and I hope the Packers genuinely are interested, but if they aren't, they will strengthen at 3-4 end somehow.