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Best left in free agency: Goldson, Avril, Grimes lead the list of second-day stars

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Dashon Goldson is still waiting for the right deal. (Getty Images)

In one way, the NFL's draft and free agency processes are very similar. The bigshots all go on the first day, but those teams who are able to create multiple and repeatable contenders generally do well on the second and third days. This is the time for positional and rotational depth, and here are the 10 remaining free agents we think are ready to provide that at the highest level.

1. Dashon Goldson, S, San Francisco 49ers: Last we heard, Goldson took a private plane to Tampa Bay, so his place on our list could be moot pretty soon. This would be a great get for the Buccaneers' ailing secondary -- Goldson is a tough and effective player who covers the back half of the defense with great range and awareness. Last season, per Pro Football Focus, he gave up just 19 catches and one touchdown on 610 coverage snaps.

2. Cliff Avril, DE, Detroit Lions: Has amassed 30 total sacks in the last three seasons, and he'll be 27 years old in April, which probably gives him a full second contract before the inevitable age-related plummet you see from most speed rushers. Not necessarily a great run defender, and doesn't put up a huge number of total pressures beyond sacks, which could explain why he wasn't picked up on Tuesday.

3. Brent Grimes, CB, Atlanta Falcons: Might be the No. 1 player on this list had he not missed most of the 2012 season with an Achilles tendon injury. Then again, if he was healthy in 2012, the Falcons would have re-upped him (or some other team would have given him big money), and he wouldn't be on this list. One of the best pure cover corners in 2011, and he could be a huge addition to any team looking to take that risk. Erroneously reported to have re-signed with Atlanta on Tuesday.

4. Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots: Yes, he's a product of New England's system to a degree, but how much of New England's system is all about Welker, and his peerless command of short and intermediate routes, as well as the option routes the Patriots like to run? Depending on who you're reading, the Patriots are either really close to re-signing him, or very far away. But if you're an offensive coordinator with a heavy passing game from the line of scrimmage to about 10 yards, you have to be pounding the table for Welker to a certain degree.

5. Michael Bennett, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Actually had far more total pressures than Avril last season, including an amazing 48 quarterback hurries. Martellus' brother is a bit closer to the wrong end of the age curve (he'll be 28 in November), but he could reward a big short-term deal with a lot of production.

6. Israel Idonije, DL, Chicago Bears: Idonije will be 33 in November, but he hasn't missed a game in more than three seasons, and his versatility is what impresses us. Idonije can play all over the line, at tackle or run-stopping end, and he has more than 40 total pressures in each of the last three years. Any team with a multi-front defense should be eagerly putting together a front-loaded deal for him.

7. Jake Long, OT, Miami Dolphins: Could sign with the Rams very early today, pending a medical, in which case we'll substitute Sebastian Vollmer in his spot. Long had a pretty heavy decline as a pass-protector in 2012, but should still have enough left in the tank to make any reasonable deal a good idea.

8. Aqib Talib, CB, New England Patriots: The Redskins are said to be heavy on Talib's trail, and the Patriots want him back, as well. Potentially elite cover corner if he keeps his head on straight.

9. Antoine Winfield, CB, Minnesota Vikings: Released by the Vikings on Tuesday, Winfield will be 36 years old this year. However, as a slot corner in coverage, a run-stopper anywhere, and a leader for any young secondary, he'd be a fabulous addition. Expect the interest in Winfield to be high, as long as the price is right.

10. Andre Smith, OT, Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals chose to slap the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson and let Smith test the market despite his outstanding 2012 season, which may tell you that teams are wondering whether he'll keep up the intensity with another big payday. We wonder the same, but it's tough to find legitimate high-level power blockers on either end of the offensive line, and Smith's value is high as a mauling right tackle.

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