Robbins among the best 4-3 defensive tackles

ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 03: 3: Fred Robbins #98 of the St. Louis Rams sacks Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks on October 3 2010 at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

One of the most talked about free agent matches for the St. Louis Rams is Giants DT Barry Cofield, lockout or not. Cofield's own merits aside, it is hard for me to imagine that he would be so desirable had it not been for the success of Fred Robbins last year. According to Pro Football Focus, Robbins ranks as the tenth best 4-3 defensive tackle over the last three years. 

When the Rams signed Robbins last spring to a three-year, $11.25 million contract, I don't think even the most optimistic fan believed he would have the impact he did with the Rams front four. It was clearly a changed unit last year in part because the Rams finally added that presence in the middle they had been seeking through a number of failed draft picks. 

Here's PFF:

There were some who questioned Robbins after a poor (by his standards) 2009. Well, one free agent move to St Louis later and those people are eating their words. The Rams wisely spared Robbins a huge amount of snaps and the end result was he was possibly the best player on a young and improving Rams team.

Robbins played on an average of 60 percent of the defensive snaps last year. He turned 34 in March, and the Rams will probably have to scale back the snaps a bit more this year. With the addition of first-round pick Robert Quinn, Spagnuolo plans to use more three and four DE sets along the front. 

Special packages or not, it still drives home the point that the Rams need to add some help at defensive tackle, to add depth should an injury occur and give the coaches legit options for those downs when Robbins will not be on the field. 

I mentioned Cofield, but look at some of the other names on this list. Brandon Mebane has been mentioned before as a possibility for the Rams. Mebane stands to benefit from a nice little bidding war for his services, which would include Seattle as a suitor. 

And what about that other name, toward the top of the list at #3? Yes, I know, the mere mention of the name Albert Haynesworth stirs all kinds of emotions. Boneheaded players have a tendency to do just that, and I've been pretty vocal in the hopes that the Rams avoid him like the plague. But there's something about the PFF write up, something that says the guy still has some potential. If the Rams coaches and his defensive linemates can hold him accountable and keep him focused on playing at a high level, the guy could be a real steal since Washinton is apt to trade him for a bag of unwashed jock straps. That's a big, big "if."

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