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Potential Bills Free Agent: DT Tommy Kelly

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Can Kelly fill Buffalo's hole at DT? (Raiders.com)

Over the past couple of days, we've been taking a look at how the Buffalo Bills can best address the defensive tackle position despite this year's free agent class at the position leaving much to be desired. We've looked at alternatives, Plan B free agents, and perhaps most importantly, the rookies. The verdict? With so little available via free agency, the Bills will almost certainly be exploring the trade and draft routes to fill the need at the position.

There is still one free agent name, however, that's mentioned frequently in Bills fan circles that needs to be discussed. That man is Oakland's Tommy Kelly. Coming off of a torn ACL that ended his 2007 season, Kelly is scheduled to hit free agency when it begins late next week. Though there has been some indication that he'll re-up in Oakland, Kelly remains the best free agent tackle currently on the open market.

Silver and Black Pride's Take
Most of us on the East Coast rarely get to see the Raiders, and by extension Kelly, play. Saint, head blogger at Silver and Black Pride, clearly has seen much more of Kelly than us - and as a Raider fan, he knows exactly what Kelly brings to the table. He was kind enough to field some questions about Kelly; here's what he had to say:

We've heard that Kelly is stout against the run; do you feel he is effective rushing the passer as well?

It is really difficult to deem anyone on the defensive line for Oakland as "tout" against the run. If anyone truly were, then the Raiders would not be the laughing stock of all run defenses for the last 24 months.

Kelly is an effective gap filler who can get after the quarterback, but is more of a "tweener" (DE or DT) than anything else. Last season was supposed to be his breakout year and it was cut short by his injury. The jury is still out on just how good he will be.

How do you think that Kelly's injury will effect his status with the Raiders? Do you think that Oakland will get Kelly re-signed before free agency starts?

Kelly's injury puts him in a very precarious position if he wants to remain a Raider. After signing Terdell Sands to a long term deal last season, with the emergence of Jay Richardson, and with the jury still out on re-signing Gerard Warren, Kelly may hit the free agent market.

What are Kelly's strengths and weaknesses? Is he more of a penetrating tackle, or is he a space-eater that frees up his teammates?

His strength is taking up space and freeing up his teammates. He doesn't really have a weakness and would be one helluva addition to any defensive line that was already deep. He can be a penetrating tackle or edge sealing DE in the right system.

If Gerard Warren is not signed, then I expect Kelly to be kept. Either one would be perfect for the Bills' D-Line... Now, can we bring Marshawn back to Oakland?!

Discussion Time
Nope. We'll just take your players, if that's alright, Saint - but Marshawn stays. Speaking of taking your players, I'm left intrigued about Kelly. At 6'6" and 300 pounds, Kelly clearly is a bit bigger than some of Buffalo's defensive tackles, and he has a slightly different skill set than our current tackles do as well. To me, from Saint's interview, Kelly would best fit as a run-down DE in a 3-4 scheme; I do believe, however, that Kelly could play the same run-down DT position in Buffalo's Cover-2. Kelly clearly wouldn't be an every down player in this scheme, so he'd need to be paid accordingly; from what it sounds like, however, Kelly could fit the bill at the right price. He's certainly worth a look.

Thoughts on Kelly or the DT position in general are welcome in the comments section. Programming Note: Today is the first day of player workouts at the NFL Combine. For those of you who have a life and don't have the NFL Network, I'll be providing a full recap of what I see later on tonight.

Raiders DT Tommy Kelly
Year G Tk Sk INT FF FR
2004 10 21 4 0 3 0
2005 16 47 5 0 3 0
2006 16 68 4 0 1 0
2007 7 30 1 0 0 0
TOT 49 166 13 0 7 0