Hi folks, I’m going to have a go at breaking down our roster, identifying any weaknesses and how they can be remedied using the 2012 draft.
Before I start, I'm not claiming to be an expert and
most some of my points will probably be wrong. I just want to throw out some opinions and see who agrees or disagrees with me.
I'm going to break it down in parts, starting with a review of our personnel on offense and positions of need
So here we go...
I want to start by addressing the elephant in the room, Rex Grossman is NOT going to win us a super bowl and the chances that John Beck won't either. My opinion is that John Beck is a better QB though, he's more accurate, poised in the pocket, mobile and he makes less of the plays that leave you scratching your head, i.e., completing more passes to a Safety then to your receivers... (Less on that dead horse though)
Our Offensive Line, whilst upgraded from the Casey Rabach days has still not inspired confidence in me, I'm sick of see penetration into the back field and runs for negative yardage. The group has shown potential and there is upside, we just need consistency. Trent Williams, Jamaal Brown, I'm looking at you! Both have flashed pro-bowl ability, only to get abused and give up big plays.
Will Montgomery has been solid at Centre and is not an immediate concern. Korey Lichtensteiger has been serviceable at LG, but now faces an uphill struggle to recover from an ACL and MCL injury (something which I am currently experiencing myself) the question whether he returns to the starting line-up is how well he can bounce back from that.
RG to me was an area I thought would be addressed for this season, either in FA or the draft. Whilst it was addressed with Chris Chester, I don't think he is the long term answer. In my mind if your starting Guards only strong point is getting to the second level, you're in trouble... Maybe he just needs a while to gel with a new unit and find his feet in Shanahans system? Time will tell.
TE is an area of relative strength for us and despite the drop off from Chris Cooley, (maybe due to injury) Fred has picked up the slack. I want to give a shout out to Logan Paulsen, who I think is one of the best 3rd tight ends in the league. He is a core Special Teams player, good blocker, under-rated receiver and works his ass off on every play. I for one am looking forward to see how he copes while Cooley is out for a few weeks.
WR is a position where we have some good weapons. Two savvy, elite route runners in veterans Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney. An unheralded deep threat in Anthony Armstrong. Terrance Austin is somebody who has skills that translate well into a slot receiver and his connection with Beck in the pre-season might be something to look for now Beck has been given the starting nod. Niles Paul is a guy who has impressed me with his work on Special Teams and with his blocking. He's big, strong and quick, if he can develop his receiving game, I think we have a gem of a receiver.
Donte Stallworth adds a solid veteran presence to the locker room and mediocre receiving skills, he had a few moments against the Eagles, but that 58 yard drop..? Brandon Banks is not playing like the pocket rocket that he was last year, whether this is to do with the rule changes, or a change in our schemes, but right now he is not justifying his space on our roster and has been a disappointment thus far. Oh and then there is this guy who we drafted in the 3rd round and was supposed to be our saviour as a true number one receiver... Didn't quite pan out like that, the potential is DEFINITELY there with young Leonard Hankerson, I just hope it translates to production on the field.
The Running Back position is widely considered as our biggest offensive strength as is usually common place on a Mike Shanahan offense. While each of our RBs has a lot of ability, each have flaws which stops this group from being elite. I'm going to start by saying that Ryan Torain is our best rusher. On his day he has exceptional vision, great burst, hits holes with authority and punishes any defender who tries to tackle him. He has inconsistent hands and is an average blocker. His Achilles heel however, is... His hamstring, his knee, whatever decides to ail him. He is either extremely unlucky, or frail. While I am high on him, he is not someone who can be relied on for a 16 game season.
Tim Hightower, is big, strong and runs like an angry bull. His blocking has been inspired this season and he has had a number of key blitz pick-ups and highlight real moments of putting defenders on their backs, I would say his blocking skills are on par with Clinton Portis, which is high praise indeed. He is also tough and durable, undisclosing and battling through a shoulder injury to stay out on the field is an example of this. My problem with Hightower is that he has shown little vision and limited ability to create and find a hole. He seems rely purely on his blocking, miss gaping holes and make his run predictable to opposing defences who swarm him and bring him down. When he locates the hole and exploits it, it is a thing of beauty (see his pre-season TD against Baltimore) Maybe it is due to his shoulder injury? Perhaps he is struggling with the Shannys scheme? If he corrects his technique, he could easily be a feature back and rush for over 1,200 yards.
Now onto somebody who I feel is our most dynamic weapon out of the backfield, the Tongan Torpedo, Roy Helu! Every time he has touched the ball he has provided a spark, exhibiting his vision and burst to gash the opposing defence. He has also looked like a threat as a receiver out of the backfield as well. He hasn't broken a big run yet, but I think its only a matter of time as he becomes more familiar with the scheme and earns more playing time from the coaches. He is not a power guy, but is solidly built and usually falls forward after contact. The knock on Helu is his ability as a blocker in the backfield (although I don't recall him being asked to do much blocking, I could be wrong about that though) as well as not using all of his 220 pound frame. All in all, I expect big things from Helu and his potential is certainly there.
I think we have some good weapons on offense, but poor QB play and an inconsistent ground game has cost us.
Our primary needs on offense are:
QB:- Rex Grossman, is not an effective professional QB. If John Beck steps up and plays well, then we will groom a draft pick behind him until he is ready to run the offense.
OG:- We need a day one starter, especially if Licht can't return to fitness. We could also do to add depth to the position.
WR:- This could be classed as a luxury pick because A.) We have more pressing needs and B.) A good QB could be productive with the weapons we have now. However, we are still lacking a true number one big play receiver.
RB:- This may surprise some people, but I would try to shop Torain for a 4th or 5th rounder, keep Hightower and Helu and let Shanahan senior pick up another late round steal.
TE:- With Cooley’s aging and injuries, is he someone we can rely on in the future? Can Fred Davis produce on a consistent level and prove he is starting material? If we do move on from Cooley, we would need depth.
OT:- The jury is still out on Trent Williams, would he be a better fit at RT? Jamaal Brown is on the down turn of his career. Do we have another tackle on the roster who is ready to step up and replace either if the go down with injury (I still cringe when I remember Stephon Heyer starting)
So if anyone’s actually read down to this point, I commend your fortitude for being able to sit through 5 minutes of my trifling
Seriously though, thanks for reading through my first ever article! Please feedback to me on both my writing and my opinions.