The defensively inept Oakland Raiders were seemingly dealt a serious blow when 33-year-old ex-Patriot Richard Seymour went down during Week 8 with a hamstring injury. Seymour was swiftly placed on injury reserve after the symptoms didn't subside in practice, effectively ending his 2012 campaign during an all-important contract year.
Seymour was playing well enough up until that point, recording 15 tackles, 3 sacks and earning a nifty top-12 defensive tackle grade courtesy of the wunderkinds over at Pro Football Focus. But the Raiders had an unlikely card up their sleeve: a 2009 undrafted free agent out of a little school in Cambridge known as Harvard.
DT Desmond Bryant didn't just suitably fill the position vacated by Seymour--he outplayed it--compiling 18 total tackles and 4 sacks in his absence. Even more impressively, the Raiders' defense improved by a drastic 3.5 points a game during the second half of their season. It'd be difficult to pin a late-season turnaround on Bryant alone, but his impact utilized in a variety of fronts and techniques (1- and 3-technique, mainly) can't easily be refuted.
Why He's a Good Fit: Even after signing DT Armond Armstead, the Patriots are still admittedly thin along the interior of the defensive line. Besides the obvious local tie-in, Bryant possesses some Patriot-esque size: 6'6" and reportedly beefing up to 311 pounds in the four years he's been in the league.
Because of the relatively small sample size (just 18 career games started), Bryant could be had inexpensively. With PFF grading him as the best defensive tackle in free agency, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal in the market on a strictly dollars-to-production ratio. DT Richard Seymour is also set to be a free agent, and while a Seymour-New England reunion isn't entirely out of the question, Bryant is the player to pursue. He has plenty of upside, plenty of years left to contribute (he's just 27), and plenty of uses for a team still left hammering away at the consistently elusive pass rush.
Patriots Free Agent Target: DT Desmond Bryant
Pats Pulpit | Feb 4