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Certain positions, such as massive interior defenders, have been devalued as the game evolves. Mountainous people-movers have yet to reach dinosaur status, though.
D.J. Reader isn’t just a great run defender; he’s also capable of collapsing the pocket. The 6’3″, 347-pound nose tackle often moves up and down the line as a 3-, 4i- and 5-technique.
“Trying to move forward, always progressing,” Reader said of his continual improvement with the Houston Texans, per Deepi Sidhu of the team’s official site. “If you’re not progressing you’re dying. I feel like I was just trying to turn forward as a player, seeing guys that came in with me, this defense, our team being better, all of us growing up. Just trying to contribute my part and I feel like I was able to do that.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Reader posted the third-best run-defense grade (with 250 or more snaps) and the best overall grade among free-agent interior defenders.
The final point is exciting considering the depth of the class.
Chris Jones, Javon Hargrave, Leonard Williams, Michael Brockers, Jarran Reed, Jordan Phillips, A’Shawn Robinson, Timmy Jernigan, Michael Pierce, Andrew Billings, Sheldon Day and Danny Shelton will flood the market with quality defensive tackles. Yet only one interior defender rates higher on this list than Reader heading into free agency, but more on that later.