Today's discussion stems from an e-mail from a reader and this thread at the Atlanta Falcons forum. This intrepid reader made a case for two defensive tackles who he thinks might be able to help out our interior pass rush. Because pretty much everybody agrees that's one Atlanta's top concerns this off-season, I thought I'd throw these out here for discussion purposes.
The first name he gave was Tank Johnson, who you may recall as living up to his name during a couple of arrests. Johnson has kept his nose squeaky clean during a stint in Dallas, but he'd basically be a project tackle with a history, as he wasn't too successful during his time with the Cowboys. With the right coaching staff in place (which we do have), I could see him being a worthy gamble. At the same time, there's nothing to suggest that he hasn't topped out as a player, which makes him much less worth it. Maybe if the Falcons could give him some sort of incentive-laden contract, but even then I don't think he's a lock to perform any better than Trey Lewis.
The second name is a bit more intriguing. Igor Olshansky of the Chargers has met incentives and can opt out of the last year of this contract, making him a free agent. An extremely strong player who is capable of playing either defensive end or defensive tackle, Olshanksky would provide quite a bit of versatility to our line. At age 26, he's still pretty young and wouldn't be incredibly expensive to get.
Over in the forums, there's a healthy debate on whether Olshansky could grow to become as good as Albert Haynesworth. I don't know if that's really a topic that I'd care to weigh in on, but I do know that he's good enough to at least rotate in and play tough at multiple spots along the line. His sack numbers are not great, though, so he might need a little more help than a guy like Haynesworth. With a number of targets in hand and most of the really top tier defensive tackles likely to be off the board by 24, I think we could do a lot worse than picking up Olshansky.
If nothing else, his name would make it easy to give him a nickname.