He wasn’t a high-priced free agent acquisition.
He’s never scored an NFL touchdown.
He’s never made a Pro Bowl.
He’s not a quote machine for the media.
Yet he might be the most consistently effective defensive player of the Tony Sparano Era.
His name is Kendall Langford and although he might not get much attention from the fans and the media, those who have watched the play in the trenches closely over the past three seasons know just how valuable he is for the Dolphins defense.
Because of some of the statements above, fans won’t even think of him as being one of the Dolphins most underrated players. In a recent poll on the Dolphins official Facebook page to determine who the fans thought was the team’s most underrated player, Langford finished 14th out of 16. Even The Finsiders analysts overlooked him in their selections for most underrated Dolphin player.
So I’ve had enough with the lack of attention for #70, here are some facts about #70:
Langford was ranked as the fifth best 3-4 Defensive End in the league by Pro Football Focus as you can see by clicking here.
ESPN.com’s Tim Graham recently selected him as one of the top 25 players in the AFC East; not too shabby in a division that includes the talent-rich Patriots and Jets to go along with Dolphin players like Jake Long, Cameron Wake, Brandon Marshall, Karlos Dansby, and others.
Langford has started 44 of 49 regular season and post-season games with the Dolphins despite playing the same position as a Pro Bowler (Randy Starks), a first round pick (Jared Odrick), and a virtual first round pick (Phillip Merling, the 32nd overall pick in 2008). Langford has stayed healthy and been productive at a position where stats are hard to measure. The 3-4 defensive end often lives in oblivion as the OLB’s collect all the sacks, the NT gets credit for stopping the run, and inside linebackers and defensive backs come up with turnovers. For example, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been arguably the NFL’s best defense over the past two decades, but can you name one of their defensive ends over that time?? Perhaps the most hardcore of fans might be able to throw out the name Aaron Smith. Nevertheless, 3-4 defensive ends are an integral part of the defense as they help stuff opposing running games while collapsing the pocket as pass rushers allowing the outside linebackers to get sacks off of the edge.
Langford had more tackles than any Dolphin defensive lineman in 2010 and tied for the lead in sacks by a d-lineman with Randy Starks. Starks has also been great, but he was finally rewarded for his tremendous play in 2009 and very good play in 2010 with a spot in the Pro Bowl last year. Paul Soliai earned the franchise tag for his fine work as the team’s run-stuffing nose tackle.
Back to the original statement, “he might be the most consistently effective defensive player of the Tony Sparano Era.” Since Sparano came to South Florida in 2008, only three defenders have been regular starters for all three seasons: Yeremiah Bell, Channing Crowder, and Langford. All have been very solid, but I would argue that Langford has been a slightly better all-around player at his position than the other two. However, the larger point is that it’s time for Kendall Langford to be recognized as more than just your run-of-the-mill NFL player. Langford has improved every season, and is now one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in football. And in what’s sure to be a heated training camp battle at defensive end between Langford, Starks, Odrick, Merling, and possibly Tony McDaniel; I’ll put my money on #70 to be starting on September 12th against the Patriots.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.